Box Office: Ben Affleck’s ‘Accountant’ Nearly Doubles ‘Kevin Hart: What Now?’ on Thursday Night

Dave McNary
Variety

Ben Affleck’s action-thriller “The Accountant” has tallied a solid $1.4 million in Thursday night preview showings.

That easily topped Universal’s comedy-concert movie “Kevin Hart: What Now?” which opened with $739,000 at 2,054 screens on Thursday night showings that started at 7 p.m.

The preview number for “The Accountant” came in above the 2014 figure for the thriller “Gone Girl,” which starred Rosamund Pike and Affleck and opened with $1.3 million on Thursday night on its way to a $37.5 million first weekend. “The Accountant” is expected to top a mild box office with roughly $18 million to $20 million when it debuts in 3,332 locations.

The Warner Bros. release, which cost about $40 million to produce, follows a small town certified public accountant who makes his living cooking the books for criminal organizations. “The Accountant” is directed by Gavin O’Connor from a script by Bill Dubuque. Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Tambor and John Lithgow also star.

Reviews have been mixed for “The Accountant” with aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes reporting a 50% rating.

“Kevin Hart: What Now?,” a look at the sold-out final performance of his most recent comedy tour, will open at 2,568 sites. It was filmed in August, 2015, at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field during the dress rehearsal and performance with Leslie Small and Tim Story directing.

The concert film is expected to take in around $13 million — a decent number, given its production cost of under $10 million. Hart’s a proven performer in this genre with 2013’s “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” having grossed $32 million domestically, making it the fourth-highest among live stand-up comedy films after “Eddie Murphy Raw,” “The Kings of Comedy” and “Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip.”

“What Now” is expected to top the opening for “Let Me Explain” which launched with $10 million in 2013. Rotten Tomatoes is reporting a 77% “fresh” rating for the film.

Open Road’s science-fiction adventure “Max Steel,” based on Mattel’s line of action figures, is launching amid muted expectations in the $5 million range at 2,034 locations. Starring Ben Winchell of MTV’s “Finding Carter,” the film focuses on the teenage Max McGrath and alien companion Steel, who evolve into the superhero Max Steel.

Dolphin Films and Mattel are the  production companies on “Max Steel.” Stewart Hendler directed from a script by Christopher Yost.

The second weekend of Emily Blunt’s mystery-thriller “The Girl on the Train” should finish third with about $12 million, followed by Fox’s third frame of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” at around $8 million.

The overall fall season has been a disappointment with “Sully” having emerged as the best performer with $115 million after five weeks. Major titles such as “Deepwater Horizon” and “Storks” have fallen short of expectations.

The crop of new releases will have trouble matching the grosses of “Goosebumps” and “Bridge of Spies,” both of which debuted over the year-ago period, along with the third weekend of Matt Damon’s “The Martian.”

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Box Office: 'Kevin Hart: What Now?' No Match for Ben Affleck's 'The Accountant'

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