Box office trends exist for a reason, and this weekend only cements that September by and large sucks, box office-wise – this weekend saw the worst results in several years, with no movie cracking the $10 million mark and the whole top ten taking only $46 million in total, a 22% drop from the equivalent frame last year. It’s not like studios can help it: the product just isn’t very appealing for the general audience (although one wonders if “Gangster Squad” might have picked things up – the film was originally set to open this weekend before Aurora-mandated reshoots put it back to January). The profits aren’t entirely too thrilling for Lionsgate, but they have effectively ruled a flimsy roost for four weeks straight with “The Possession” taking the top spot for the second weekend in a row with $9.5 million following two weeks of “The Expendables 2” dominance. We use the term “dominance” loosely.
Most horror films, especially lukewarm entries like “The Possession,” tend to fall off considerably after their first weekend. Even with the lack of new releases, it’s worth noting the picture lost less than half its audience and is likely headed for a final gross in the neighborhood of $60 million domestically. Not bad for a cheapie Labor Day release with a budget in the low teens. Sam Raimi‘s Ghost House continues their considerable winning streak with lower-budgeted genre efforts, which they hope will continue with next year’s “The Evil Dead.” Perhaps now they’ll have just that much more advertising money to throw around for that $30 million-budgeted remake.
“Lawless” maintained its second place position with just north of $9 million, though it should be clear by now that The Weinstein Company release is more of a slow-burner, one that will earn more eyeballs on DVD and cable with it’s easy-to-market names. It’s just the wrong period to release a dusty Prohibition-era drama, really, and “Lawless” faced a problem in marketing that it also faced creatively: is it a rough-and-tumble action film, or a prestige picture with award season bonafides? It’s not that Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy aren’t stars, it’s that they don’t have “brands” per se. The good news is, you never know what you’re gonna get with a LaBeouf or Hardy movie. That’s also the bad news.
Opening quietly in third was “The Words,” a $2 million CBS Films pickup that the fledging studio nevertheless promoted as if it didn’t look like the most boring crap ever (which it was). Bradley Cooper has ostensibly been poised for the A-List for awhile now, but his career choices have been both picky and eccentric, to say the least: ain’t any “Bradley Cooper Classics” to be packaged in a DVD boxed set. Nobody breaks their backs with this (the film only cost $5 million to make), though this is another situation where CBS Films spends zilch to make zilch and a half. Congrats, boys.
“The Expendables 2” and “ParaNorman” round out the top five – the former is limping to $90 million, while the latter, while spending a decent four weeks in the top five, might round out at $60 million. Underperformance for the latter, as they were expected to match the girl-centric “Coraline” in its $75 million domestic take. With a solid international showing, the film could reach nine figures, though that would still be behind “Coraline” ‘s $125 global showing. Despite adding screens, “The Odd Life Of Timothy Green” couldn’t lap the kiddie zombie comedy, though that film is also looking tapped out, only generating less cash than the sparsely attended “ParaNorman” due to the latter’s 3D prices.
“The Bourne Legacy” battled its way over the $100 million mark and “The Campaign” approached $80 million, though they’re not expected to survive into the fall. And with the DNC earlier this week, Rocky Mountain continued to expand “2016 Obama’s America,” the film now playing on 2,000 screens (but still dropping 35%) – clearly sticking around to tally up a finishing gross that should reach the top five on the list of all-time highest grossing documentaries. It has a solid shot at passing #4 on that list as well, though currently occupying that spot is Disney‘s “Earth,” right above Disney’s “Chimpanzee.” It’s not exactly the Maysles Brothers we’re talking here.
In case you were wondering, yes, a new movie starring John McClane, Ellen Ripley and Superman came out this weekend. “The Cold Light of Day” was a leftover after the Lionsgate/Summit merger, and after some indecision, the studio dumped it on slightly over a thousand theaters. Despite boasting Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver, the studio barely promoted the blandly titled thriller, and it opened outside the top ten with grosses expected to reach only $1.9 million. The picture was very nearly outgrossed by the re-release of a 31-year-old movie on a fraction of the screens: “Raiders of the Lost Ark” pulled in $1.4 million at 267 IMAX locations, a small scale repackaging that could become the norm for several more popular catalog titles.
In other limited release news, a confident release for “Branded” was met with apathy, as the film branched out onto 307 screens for a $251k gross, a small average of only $818 per screen. “Bachelorette” was slightly more successful at 47 locations for a $191k gross. Stronger per-screen numbers were had by “Detropia,” which scored $18k at one location, and “Hello I Must Be Going” with $26.8k at two theaters. “Keep the Lights On” scored a strong $56k at five locations, while “The InBetweeners Movie” could only register $36k on ten screens.
The weekend’s biggest returning indie hit is “Samsara,” which went from nine to 26 locations, grossing $200k in its third week for a $488k total. “Sleepwalk With Me” expanded further in its third week to $343k at 73 locations and an $882k total, while “Searching For Sugar Man” has taken advantage of a late surge, with $132k in its seventh weekend of release on only 33 screens: at $910k, it’s on the cusp of a million dollar gross. Support your local arthouse theater, boys and girls.
1. Scary Ghost Go Boo (Lionsgate) – $9.5 million ($33 mil.)
2. Lawless (Weinstein) – $6 million ($24 mil.)
3. Tha W0rdz (CBS Films) – $5 million
4. The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate) – $4.8 million ($75 mil.)
5. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) – $4 million ($103 mil.)
6. Paranorman (Focus) – $3.8 million ($45 mil.)
7. The Odd Life Of Shrubbery Child (Disney) – $3.7 million ($43 mil.)
8. The Campaign (WB) – $3.5 million ($75 mil.)
9. The Dark Knight Rises (WB) – $3.3 million ($438 mil.)
10. 2016: The Year We Make Contact (Rocky Mountain Films) – $3.2 million ($26 mil.)
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