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Holiday Weekend Box Office: The Possession Scares Up 2nd-Best Labor Day Opening

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By Chris Kavan - 09/03/12 at 07:40 PM CT

It's no secret that Labor Day weekend is usually pretty slow for movies. Most people prefer to travel rather than take in a movie. But at least this weekend had a few bright spots, and one historically horrendous debut, that let summer go out with a slight bang.

After the disappointing debut of The Apparition, it looks like audiences were still in the mood for horror, as The Possession took the #1 spot with $17.7 million and should wind up with around $21.3 million for the four-day holiday. While that is a bit under recent horror showing from The Last Exorcism ($23 million) and The Haunting in Connecticut ($23 million) - that is still the second-highest Labor Day opening behind the 2007 Halloween reboot ($30.6 million). Surprisingly for a horror film, it was the female audience (59%) that drove this film and they awarded the film a B - average at best, but actually quite good for a horror film (where a B+ is the current highest cinemascore).

That meant that the period drama, the star-heavy Lawless, had to settle for second with $13 million ($15.1 million since its Wednesday opening). That is up from The Debt's 2011 Labor Day opening of $14.8 million but behind 2010's Labor Day film The American ($19.8 million). Considering the diverse and high-profile cast, I think this is a bit of a letdown, but then the "period" part of the drama may have turned off enough people.

The Expendables 2 dropped to third place with $11.2 million for the weekend (off about 17% total) and has earned $68.6 million since opening. Not bad, but it's still running $14 million behind the original film's total through the same time frame.

The Bourne Legacy was down just 22% in fourth place with $9.3 million for the four-day weekend. The film has earned $98.4 million and will have no problem crossing the $100 million mark before next weekend. However, it's looking less and less likely it will be able to catch the $121.7 million Bourne Identity, meaning it will be the lowest-grossing film in the series unless it can really hold up well in the coming weeks.

Rounding out the top five, ParaNorman took in $8.85 million in the four days, taking its total to $40.3 million. It also held up well, dropping just 24%, but it's running about $14 million behind fellow stop-motion animated film Coraline through the same point.

Two films celebrated some global landmarks. The Dark Knight Rises (7th place with nearly $8 million - $433.2 million total) crossed the $1 billion global marked and also passed The Dark Knight in total global grosses. For a film that was marred by a violent opening, it's great news and it should only climb in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, The Avenger's re-release (13th place, up from last week's 39th - $2.4 million) raised its total to $620.2 million and crossed the $1.5 billion global mark - meaning it's now the third-highest domestic and international film (behind Avatar and Titanic). It should also bode well that it's going to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray in three weeks - expect some huge sales for that as well.

While there was plenty to celebrate, one film broke a record, but it's not one anyone wants to hear. The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure opened in 2160 theaters and grossed just $448,000 ($601,000 for the four days). This is a film with a $20 million budget and at least double that in marketing. What did they get for their effort? A worst-ever $207-per-screen average. Yes, even worst than last year's Creature ($217 average) and also beat out Delgo's $511,920 total for worst debut for any movie is 2000+ theaters. This was a movie aimed for toddlers (not tweens, not children, but actual toddlers) and it appears this was not the strategy to take. If you break it down - that $207 average meant there were only 2 people per screen, per showing for the entire weekend. Congratulations - now, whose going to top that?

Next week there are a bunch of limited releases, but only two new wide releases: The Words, about an author (Bradley Cooper) who takes credit for a long-forgotten work, only to pay the price and The Cold Light of Day a pretty generic action/thriller with Bruce Willis, Henry Cavill and Sigourney Weaver along for the ride. We'll see if either one sparks the interest and can best The Possession in its second week out.

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