‘Insidious – Chapter 2″ Continues Blum & Wan’s Golden Touch; “The Family” Less So for Luc Besson

'Insidious - Chapter 2" Continues Blum & Wan's Golden Touch; "The Family" Less So for Luc Besson

“Insidious 2” continues producer Jason Blum’s amazing record of big openings with low-budget horror films, with an inflation-unadjusted second-best-ever September opening at $41 million. The other new opening, “The Family” (actually a French film with a lead American cast, made in English) was a weaker #2. Curiously, in the weekend that marks the closing of the film-media dominating Toronto Film Festival, the directors of both these films — James Wan and Luc Besson — both had their first films shown at that festival (“Saw,” in James Wan’s case, premiered earlier at Sundance). So once again, despite the distance on the surface, the ties between the specialized and studio world remain closely entwined.

The total for the top 10 was once again above last year’s, at $86 million, compared to $65 million in 2012, mainly because of the “Insidious” snumber. This healthy total (quite good for a mid-September weekend) once again stretches the small but growing year-to-date lead over 2012 that was achieved about a month ago and is beginning to look like a trend.

1. Insidious: Chapter 2 (FilmDistrict) NEW – Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 41

$41,005,000 in 3,049 theaters; PSA (Per Screen Average): $13,463; Cumulative: $41,005,000

Falling just short of the unadjusted record for a September opening (“Hotel Transylvania” last year; adjusted “Rush Hour” and “Sweet Home Alabama” were also better), “Insidious: Chapter 2” was outstanding as Jason Blum’s low-budget ($5 million, with a number of players have heavy back-end participation) production tripled the gross of the original in 2011.

For both its producer and director this is a second #1 opening for the summer — Blum’s “The Purge” surprised for Universal in June with $34 million, while Wan’s “The Conjuring” shocked with just under $42 million in July for Warner Bros. These are astounding results, even when new horror films often overperform in non-prime weeks.

Making this gross even more impressive is that this isn’t a premium ticket 3-D film. It is the biggest opening yet for revamped FilmDistrict, which earlier this year impressed with the sleeper success “Olympus Has Fallen,” which opened to $30.4 million on its way to a $99 million total.

“The Conjuring” star Patrick Wilson now has had two horror film hits this year.  Joining him in reprising their earlier “Insidious” roles were Barbara Hershey and Rose Byrne (whose diverse other hits include “Bridesmaids” and “The Place Beyond the Pines”).

What comes next: The first “Insidious” quadrupled its opening weekend (unusual in the genre, where something a bit more than double is more common). Blum’s films tend to be closer to that level, while historically Wan’s have been closer to triple. With this huge opening. somewhere in between — $100 million — is possible, but not guaranteed. International (the U.K. opened at #1 this weekend) should end up somewhere in the same range.

2. The Family (Relativity) NEW – Cinemascore: C; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 46

$14,500,000 in 3,091 theaters; PSA: $4,691; Cumulative: $14,500,000

Thirty years ago Luc Besson was introduced to North American audiences at Toronto with his “Le Dernier combat,” a low-budget genre film that suggested a raw talent that might be heard from in festivals in the future. Three decades later, he is arguably the most important European producer, with the “Taken,” “Transporter,” “Arthur and the Invisible” franchises all under his control. He directs less frequently, and then eclectically (“The Lady” was his previous effort), but has returned with a straight-out commercial effort that, though a French film, is clearly aimed in part at American audiences.

With Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones starring in this comedy about a family relocated to France in a witness protection program, this came in with a modest result for the weekend, though with an economic $30 million cost and likely stronger results in Europe suggesting a good enough result to satisfy Relativity, whose last release, “Paranoia” a month ago, only managed to gross a little over $7 million despite a wide release. It’s nearly double the opening of DeNiro’s earlier 2013 release “Big Wedding.”

Curious item buried in the credits – Martin Scorsese is the film’s executive producer.

What comes next: Not likely to be a strong hold based on the C+ Cinemascore, this will end up in the mid-20s.

3. Riddick (Universal) Week 2 – Last weekend: #1

$7,000,000 (-63%) in 3,117 theaters (+10); PSA: $2,246; Cumulative: $31,300,000

Vin Diesel’s third outing in this series took a big second weekend drop, still good enough for #3 and just slightly more than the previous “Chronicles of Riddick” fell.

What comes next: International grosses for this lower ($38 million) budget effort will determine its profitability and potential for another sequel.

4. Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Weinstein) Week 5 – Last weekend: #2

$5,582,000 (-34%) in 3,239 theaters (-91); PSA: $1,723; Cumulative: $100,041,000

Lost in the details this week is a fact that is amazing – “The Butler” has the highest theater count of any of the films in the top 10, despite being in its fifth week and even though the initial perception was that its appeal might not go that far beyond African-American audiences. Weinstein has managed to make this a crossover success and not only built up interest before opening but sustained it amazingly well since its strong opening.

What comes next: $100 million was thought to be at the high end of expectations, but this now looks like it is on its way to over $125 million.

5. We’re the Millers (Warner Bros.) Week 6 – Last weekend: #4

$5,415,000 (-30%) in 3,238 theaters (-207); PSA: $1,672; Cumulative: $131,602,000

Yet another week with a small drop, as this continues to do business late in its run.

What comes next: This looks like it will fall just a bit short of the year’s top domestic grossing comedy (“The Heat” at $158 million), but it likely will come close.

6. Instructions Not Included (Lionsgate) Week 3 – Last weekend: #3

$4,250,000 (-52%) in 933 theaters (+216); PSA: $4,555; Cumulative: $26,681,000

A big drop, but still a strong PSA with more theaters added for the sleeper Mexican Spanish-language comedy that looks like it could top out close to $40 million.

What comes next: Expect a big increase in broad-based Latino audience comedies ahead as other studios try to replicate this success.

7. Planes (Buena Vista) Week 6 – Last weekend: #3

$3,066,000 (-26%) in 2,739 theaters (-294); PSA: $1,119; Cumulative: $82,984,000

Always good to be the only prime kids’ film in the market, as Disney’s lower-budget animated release once again drops only a modest amount and adds to to better than expected returns.

What comes next: With several major territories yet to open, this worldwide is likely to top $200 million.

8. One Direction: This Is Us (Sony) Week 3 – Last weekend: #6

$2,400,000 (-41%) in 2,300 theaters (-435); PSA: $1,043; Cumulative: $26,887,000

The moans you heard from parents with young One Direction fans in the household were because of the announcement that in its third weekend Sony was adding 20 minutes of new footage to this concert film, with the hope of early repeat business. The ploy managed to slow the drop for this film – it went down 40% this weekend after nearly 75% last. They didn’t change the title to “This Is Really Us,” but can that be far behind?

What comes next: This should be its last weekend it in the top 10, but much of the international gross is still to come, and this could approach $100 million before done, a good return on investment.

9. Elysium (Sony) Week 6 – Last weekend: #7

$2,050,000 (-35%) in 1,720 theaters (-521); PSA: $1,192; Cumulative: $88,388,000

Another modest drop as Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi/action film continues to hold on better than its opening suggested. It now has reached three times its start, with $100 million looking just out of reach.

What comes next: As often happens with Sony releases even more than other studios, international is likely to pull this into profit, with a $300 million total likely.

10. Percy Jackson – Sea of Monsters (20th Century-Fox) Week – Last weekend: #8

$1,825,000 (-25%) in 1,638 theaters (-407); PSA: $1,114; Cumulative: $62,035,000

Another film helped by aiming at kids with not much competition, this had a minor fall this weekend and is now more than four times its opening weekend, impressive even though children’s films tend to hold better. This won’t match the series’ first film’s domestic take of $88 million, but worldwide might match its $237 million total.

What comes next: At this point, likely good enough to justify another entry.

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Oh, and what about SALINGER? How did that do?


I was on an uncharacteristic vacation in the Hamptons (Long Island) over Labor Day weekend and every theater in every town we visited was showing both BLUE JASMINE and THE BUTLER, so I'm not surprised at the theater count cited above. We opted to see THE BUTLER and the good-sized audience was overwhelmingly white and middle-aged/senior citizen. Most of the praise I've heard heaped on this film has come from white liberals of a certain age (plus one 30-something black woman). I didn't think it was a particularly good film, but some sequences work very well, including the one on the Freedom Riders. Oprah fans and middle-aged white liberals already know about that era, but young people today would learn something from seeing that dramatized. Just try getting them to see it.

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