box office halloweenThe weekend, the box office took a hit from Halloween. It fell on a Friday, resulting "Ouija" simultaneously winning the weekend and earning the title of lowest-earning No. 1 movie of the year.

Let's take a look at seven lessons from a horrible Halloween weekend.

1. Halloween is a terrible box office day. Hollywood hates it when Halloween falls on a Friday because people usually have more entertaining things to do than go to the movies. That certainly seemed the case this weekend, when no film earned more than $11 million. As a whole, the North American box office was down 18 percent from last weekend. Even though there were plenty of scary movies to see, more people apparently preferred to get candy from their neighbors than from the popcorn counter

2. Jake Gyllenhaal is a spotty box office draw. He does well in big-budget vehicles ("The Day After Tomorrow") and in supporting roles in other people's dramas ("Prisoners"), but not by himself, or at the helm of low-budget vehicles. His "Nightcrawler" demonstrated that by opening with an estimated $10.9 million, in a virtual tie with last week's Halloween-themed holdover "Ouija." (As of Sunday afternoon, the two movies were separated by just $9,000, according to studio estimates.) Critics raved about Gyllenhaal's crime thriller, but audiences were lukewarm about it, giving it a B- grade on CinemaScore.

3. People don't necessarily want to see Halloween movies on Halloween. Besides "Ouija," there was "The Book of Life" (No. 5, with an estimated $8.3 million), "Dracula Untold" (No. 10, with an estimated $2.9 million), "Annabelle" (No. 15, $2 million), the "Saw" re-release (No 20, $650,000), and "Horns" (tied for 25th with two other movies at $104,000). So, less than $25 million in ticket sales for fright fare this weekend.

4. Ten years may be too soon for nostalgia. The tenth anniversary re-release of "Saw" was supposed to capitalize on both Halloween and a supposed fondness among older moviegoers for the golden era of torture-porn. One pundit even thought the movie could earn as much as $13 million and win the weekend. It re-opened wide, on 2,063 screens, but it earned a paltry $315 per venue, meaning each theater where it was showing sold an average of about 13 tickets per day. If you're Jigsaw, it's hardly worth coming back from the dead for that kind of pocket change.

5. Daniel Radcliffe, meet Jake Gyllenhaal. The former "Harry Potter" star could have leveraged his fame into lead roles in bland, big-studio fare. Instead, he's gone the Gyllenhaal route of making interesting, even bizarre movies that no one sees. That's noble, but it's not good box office, At this writing about 19.5 million people have watched the viral video of Radcliffe rapping on Tuesday's "Tonight Show," or about 1,500 times the number of people who paid to see "Horns."

6. Nicole Kidman is not a box office draw at all, and she hasn't been for about 13 years, really. She's one of those stars who remains famous more because we're fascinated with her than because we actually want to see her movies. No film she's starred in this decade has earned more than $5 million in North American theaters during its entire run. Her latest wide release, "Before I Go to Sleep," opened wide this weekend on 1,902 screens but earned only an estimated $2.0 million, debuting in 14th place.

7. It helps to have a distributor with a track record. And to be fair to Kidman, "Sleep's" distributor, Clarius Entertainment, has only two previous movies under its belt, May's "Legends of Oz, Dorothy's Return" and July's "And So It Goes." Neither film earned more than $15.2 million in theaters, though "Sleep" seems unlikely to meet even that benchmark. Of course, it doesn't help that Clarius has specialized so far in movies that feature talents long past their box office prime (Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, and Martin Short in "Oz"; Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas in "And So It Goes"; and now Kidman). If Clarius isn't careful, it'll get a reputation as the "Love Boat" of distributors.

categories Movies, Box Office