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Gabrielle Union Defends Sharing Her Rape Story

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The Girl on the Train has steamed ahead of its rivals to top the USA box office on its opening weekend.

Based on Paula Hawkins' best-seller about a woman trying to piece together a mysterious disappearance, the movie's take may have been hit by Hurricane Matthew, which pummeled much of the Southeast of the us keeping folks at home.

The Emily Blunt-starring thriller - which reportedly cost less than $50 million to make - performed well among female moviegoers, who made up 68 percent of the audience, even as the film earned lukewarm reviews from critics.

Directed by Tate Taylor, Emily Blunt plays Rachel Watson, an alcoholic who becomes obsessed with the lives of her ex-husband's new wife and her nanny.

After generating quite the buzz after the Sundance Film Festival, Fox Searchlight Pictures shelled out a record 17.5 million dollars for distributing rights to the film in January, 10 months later, an additional 10 million was spent on an aggressive marketing campaign. But the release was derailed after rape allegations against Parker and his "The Birth of a Nation" co-writer Jean Celestin resurfaced. The debut has been dogged by revelations of a rape charge against Parker, made when he was in college and of which he was acquitted.

But perhaps the most closely watched opening was Fox Searchlight's "The Birth of a Nation".

Recent media attention has been focused on Parker's acquittal for rape in 1999 and his accuser's subsequent suicide.

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Its cumulative total in its second week in theatres stands at US$51.1 million, said industry tracker Exhibitor Relations.

As a sexual assault survivor herself, Union still felt that the film was important, hoping that the controversy surrounding it would lead to open and honest conversations about consent.

"It's not a tour-de-force effort", said the source, who declined to be identified so as not to be seen criticizing those who've worked on the film.

Parker had mostly been kept out of the film's marketing activity until last week, when he sat for a pair of television interviews on 60 Minutes and Good Morning America. It debuted with $6.9 million.

With its foreign take boosting its box office numbers to $66.3 million so far, it is well short of recouping its massive $110 million budget.

Another movie in its first week - Middle School: the Worst Years of My Life - took seventh place with US$6.9 million. Ticket sales for the season are down 5.7% year-over-year, as hits like "Sully" have failed to eclipse 2015 blockbusters such as "The Martian" and "Hotel Transylvania 2".

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