Don't look now, but this could end up being the lowest grossing weekend in theaters since at least 2008. And if you look at admissions, far worse. The weekend after Labor Day is usually the worst of the year, but even so, business was terrible. The top ten films grossed around $46 million. Could it be a lingering aftereffect of the Aurora shootings? That's part of it.
One empty film slot actually is due to Aurora. Warner Bros. had staked out this date for their "Gangster Squad," but reshoots were needed because eerie parallels to that tragedy pushed that film back to next year. Meantime, it was too late for another studio to fill the void. Had it opened, this weekend would likely have met the level of other recent years. Thus there were no new A-list or even wide audience B-genre movies. The last three years saw "Contagion," "Resident Evil: Afterlife," and "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" opening to over $20 million for the weekend.
For the second weekend in a row, a new wide-release film will fail to make the top 10– Lionsgate's "The Cold Light of Day" (a Summit Entertainment feature) grossed only $1,800,000 in 1,511 theaters, with limited marketing after foreign territories had already turned up weak.
1. The Possession (Lionsgate) – Week 2; Last Weekend: #1
$9,500,000 (-46%) in 2,834 theaters (+18); PSA (per screen average): $3,352; Cumulative: $33,349,000
A not bad hold for this horror film with an original twist (the story has elements of the traditional Jewish Dybbuk legend). For Lionsgate, this puts them in the lead of 2012 weekends with the #1 film (their eighth), but more importantly, gives them and producer Sam Raimi's company a solid low-budget hit with most of the rest of the world still to open.
What comes next: With a likely $40 million domestic gross and likely at least double that beyond, and a $14 million production cost, can a sequel be too far behind?
2. The Lawless (Weinstein) – Week 2; Last Weekend: #2
$6,002,000 (-40%) in 3,138 theaters (+350); PSA: $1,913; Cumulative: $23,520,000
Maintaining the #2 spot with a modest falloff, this Southern-set period gangster film's performance still seems to justify the decision to go wide rather than limited initially.
What comes next: With its so-so reviews, the likely $30 million-level gross is about in range for what could have been expected for this Cannes acquisition by the Weinstein Company.
3. The Words (CBS) – NEW; Cinemascore: B; Metacritic score: 38
$5,000,000 in 2,801 theaters; PSA: $1,767; Cumulative: $5,000,000
A rarity – this premiered at Sundance, and as such, a wide release is very unusual, even with stars of the caliber of Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Jeremy Irons. The results, even factoring in the weak weekend and CBS' relatively low acquisition price ($2 million), are not impressive. Cooper collaborated on this film, co-directed and written by some long-time friends, in order to showcase his non-comedy chops (as he did with far more successful "Limitless.") But counterprogramming to adults requires critical support, which this did not have.
What comes next: An adult audience tends to show up more later in the weekend, but this looks like it will have a quick playoff.
4. The Expendables (Lionsgate) – Week 4; Last Weekend: #3
$4,750,000 (-48%) in 3,260 theaters (-74); PSA: $1,457; Cumulative: $75,417,000
A normal dropoff for this sequel.
What comes next: This is going to get closer to $100 million domestically than initially seemed likely, with more than that already in internationally.
5. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) – Week 5; Last Weekend: #4
$4,000,000 (-44%) in 2,766 theaters (-365); PSA: $1,460; Cumulative: $103,700,000
A very solid hold for this, as its more adult audience continues to add to the gross of a film that based on its opening weekend was in danger of falling short of $100 million, which now has been passed.
What comes next: With much of the world yet to open, this still has a shot of passing $250 million, below hopes, but enough to give it a chance at breaking even or more.
6. ParaNorman (Focus) – Week 4; Last Weekend: #5
$3,830,000 (-42%) in 2,856 theaters (-229); PSA: $1,341,000; Cumulative: $45,098,000
With kids now back in school everywhere, this drop is reasonable.
What comes next: This should still eke out a $50 million total.
7. The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Buena Vista) – Week 4; Last Weekend: #6
$3,700,000 (-41%) in 2,717 theaters (+82); PSA: $321; Cumulative: $43,000,000
Still adding theaters and steadily adding to its gross, this Disney family drama is performing much better than its opening weekend suggested it would.
What comes next: With its modest budget, the eventual $50 million+ gross domestically plus the rest of the world should lead to a comfortable profit.
8. The Campaign (Warner Brothers) – Week 5; Last Weekend: #8
$3,530,000 (-38%) in 2,542 theaters (-399); PSA: $1,389; Cumulative: $79,473,000
A minor drop – even in an off weekend, this is yet another film holding better than expected.
What comes next: $90 million seems in reach if this keeps holding this well.
9. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Brothers) – Week 8; Last Weekend: #7
$3,285,000 (-46%) in 1,987 theaters (-200); PSA: $1,653; Cumulative: $437,849,000
Still hanging around even after almost two months.
What comes next: "The Dark Knight" lasted 10 weeks in the top 10, which seems now unlikely for this still huge grossing film.
10. 2016 Obama's America (Rocky Mountain) – Week 9; Last Weekend: #9
$3,281,000 (-41%) in 2,017 theaters (+270); PSA: $1,627; Cumulative: $26,088,000
No post-convention bump for this anti-Obama film, adding about 15% more theaters as it expands once again but with a big drop in its PSA.
What comes next: This has already grossed far beyond expectations, and its likely final gross of over $30 million will place it among the top indie releases of the year.