Overcoming mediocre reviews, Ben Affleck's action-thriller The Accountant is headed for a better-than-expected $25 million debut at the North American box office after topping Friday's chart with $9.1 million from 3,332 theaters.
The movie's standing is a testament to Affleck's star status. Also, audiences like the Gavin O'Connor-directed film much more than critics, awarding it an A CinemaScore. Males dominated Friday's audience (58 percent), while nearly 70 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 35.
From Warner Bros., The Accountant cost under $40 million to make.
In the film, Affleck plays a whiz accountant (and assassin) who cooks the books for mobsters and cartels. When he's targeted by the Treasury Department, he goes to work for a company he thinks is on the up and up. Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons and John Lithgow also star.
Stand-up comedy pic Kevin Hart: What Now? is likewise enjoying a solid launch. The movie earned an estimated $4.8 million Friday from 2,567 theaters for a projected $12.4 million weekend, putting it in a potentially close race with fellow Universal title The Girl on the Train for the No. 2 spot.
Hart's latest outing grossed $4.8 million Friday, while Girl on the Train took in $3.9 million. However, Girl on the Train should pick up steam on Saturday.
What Now?, nabbing an A- CinemaScore, follows the final performance of Hart's wildly successful stand-up comedy tour at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field in August 2015, along with a dress rehearsal. Hart's previous stand-up film, 2013's Let Me Explain, opened to $10 million on its way to earning $32.3 million domestically, the third-best showing of all time for a stand-up comedy movie.
Leslie Small and Tim Story directed What Now, which blends some fictional storylines, like Hart playing a Bond-like spy accompanied by sidekick Halle Berry, with Hart's stand-up performance.
Also opening wide this weekend is Max Steel, based on Mattel's toy action figures. The movie, from Dolphin Films and Mattel, is bombing in its debut. For the weekend, the film is expected to gross roughly $2 million from 2,043 theaters.
The sci-fi adventure film follows teen Max McGrath and his alien companion, Steel, who combine their new powers to evolve into the turbo-charged Max Steel. The unlikely friends struggle to accept their oddly connected fates as they battle evil forces threatening mankind.
Stewart Hendler directed based on a script by Christopher Yost. It stars Ben Winchell, Ana Villafane, Andy Garcia, Maria Bello and Billy Slaughter.
Now in its second weekend, embattled filmmaker Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation is also struggling badly. The slave-rebellion drama is projected to tumble more than 60 percent to an estimated $2.7 million from 2,105 theaters for a 10-day domestic total of $12 million for Fox Searchlight.
Back in the top 10, Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Deepwater Horizon round out the top five after The Accountant, Girl on the Train and What Now.