In one of the weakest weekends of the year which may yet get weaker thanks to the oncoming Frankenstorm (stay safe, East Coasters), the only real winner was Ben Affleck's "Argo." It's rare for a movie to make it to number one several weeks into release, but the actor/director's political thriller has had outstanding word of mouth, and though it dropped a touch more than its record-breaking hold last weekend, it still managed to rise up to the top of the charts with a $12.4 million haul. It's the second-lowest number one of the year, but for a third week of release, still very strong numbers, and the film should carry on steaming towards $100 million, though the competition is going to be fiercer in the next few weeks.
Another long-player is "Hotel Transylvania," which clung to number two in its fifth weekend of release. That's more a sign of the ineptitude of the rest of the competition, and "Wreck-It Ralph" will see it plummet next weekend, but Sony has to be delighted with a $130 million haul here.
But much less happy were the new releases.
A sub-$10 million opening for a starry $100 million epic would be dreadful in most circumstances, but this was always going to be the case with "Cloud Atlas." Warners never worked out how to sell the Wachowskis & Tom Twyker's genre-spinning three-hour tale, and gave it a release that seemed to resigned to that, putting the film in only 2000 theaters, fewer than almost everything else in wide release. If reports are true that the company paid only $20 million for U.S. distribution rights, they actually aren't going to be in too massive a hole with this one (even with a C Cinemascore that doesn't bode well for word of mouth), but the Wachowskis (coming off the equally disappointing "Speed Racer") and the once-untouchable Tom Hanks (who's a few years off his last live action success) take something of a hit here. International numbers could end up saving the day — it's rolling out very slowly over the next few months, but expect it to do better in Europe and Asia. The second best (or more accurately, second least terrible) of the new releases was the unnecessary video game sequel "Silent Hill: Revelation." Its 2006 predecessor opened to a healthy $20 million ahead of a $46 million overall, but even with Halloween on the way and a 3D bump, the sequel could only make $8 million, falling behind the second week of "Paranormal Activity 4." The latter took a big drop, down about 70%, a further demonstration, after a slower opening, that the franchise's appeal is starting to wane, but these things are so enormously profitable that we can expect to see an annual installment at least until they get into double digits.
Much of the rest of the chart was made up of holdovers. "Taken 2" continued to bring in reasonable business for its fourth week, though with Bond on the horizon, it'll struggle to overtake the $145 haul of its predecessor. Still, with massive international numbers (the film's closing on $300 million worldwide), the champagne's still flowing over at Fox. "Here Comes The Boom" and "Sinister" both clung on to the top ten (the latter will get a decent midweek bump with Halloween), but the big loser here was "Alex Cross," which despite a reasonable 55% drop, only just hung on in the top ten. Expect talk on future movies in the franchise to be very quiet, and about a dozen more Madea movies from Tyler Perry.
As for the remaining new releases: train wrecks. It was never clear if "Fun Size" was aimed at teens or tweens (a Nickelodeon release, but a PG-13 rating), and as a result, neither audience turned up. It just cracked the top 10, but with only a few thousand dollars more than the five-week old "Pitch Perfect," and actuals may see it slip out again. It was fairly cheap, and as such, Paramount may end up turning a profit on home video, but it's still a very poor result. Even worse was "Chasing Mavericks," the Gerard Butler-starring surf movie that always seemed like it was destined to make no money whatsoever. Last year's sleeper hit "Soul Surfer" must have given Fox some hope, but the film made only $2 million, marking it as one of the worst wide release openings of all time, putting it in the ranks of films like "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," "Deception" and "The Real Cancun." Can we stop putting Gerard Butler in movies now?
Indie-wise, "The Loneliest Planet" opened to an excellent $20,000 on two screens, and will be expanding to the next 15 markets as a result, by some distance the best of the new indie releases. It wasn't quite the best screen average going, though; "The Sessions," which expanded to 20 screens, just pipped it, taking in a very strong $230,000. And internationally, "Skyfall" has taken in a hugely impressive $77 million in its first few days, including a massive $32 million in the U.K. alone, only just behind the final "Harry Potter" as the biggest opener of all time. So the box office should be getting a kick up the ass in the U.S. in a few weeks too…
Full top ten below.
1. Argo (WB) $12.4 mil ($60.8 mil)
2. Hotel Transylvania (Sony) $9.5 mil ($130.4 mil)
3. Cloud Atlas (WB) $9.4 mil ($9.4 mil)
4. Paranormal Activity 4 (Paramount) $8.675 mil ($42.6 mil)
5. Silent Hill: Revelation (Open Road Films) $8 mil ($8 mil)
6. Taken 2 (Fox) $8 mil ($117.4 mil)
7. Here Comes The Boom (Sony) $5.5 mil ($30.5 mil)
8. Sinister (Summit) $5 mil ($39.5 mil)
9. Alex Cross (Lionsgate) $5 mil ($19.3 million)
10. Fun Size (Paramount) $4 mil ($4 mil)