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Weekend Box Office: Guardians Tops Lazy Labor Day Holiday

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By Chris Kavan - 09/01/14 at 11:54 AM CT

The summer ended on a whimper - but that was no big surprise as Labor Day is traditionally a soft weekend for Hollywood. The weekend was down nearly 16% compared to last year - and even though the month of August itself was a bright spot, the summer overall was down 15% compared to last year. Thus far the year is down 5% and this summer is going to wind up at an eight-year low for Hollywood. But the news wasn't all bad, as thanks to late-summer surge, we have a new box-office champion for 2014. It might not save the summer, but at least there is some good news to go around.

1) GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

The weekend's winner for the second-straight weekend was Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. Taking in $17.07 million, Guardians officially became the highest-grossing film of 2014 with a total of $275.37 million (topping Captain America: The Winter Solider's $259.76 million). The movie was down just 5% compared to last weekend, on par with the Labor Day drops of Lee Daniels' The Butler and We're the Millers (down 10 percent and 3 percent, respectively). Even though summer is at an end, Guardians should still have enough in the tank to cross the $300 million mark. This is easily the brightest spot for the summer.

2) TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

While it may not have quite the impact that Guardians had, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has become a nice little hit on its own. Taking in $11.9 million, Turtles dropped 28.8% and now stands at $162.55 million. The film will be able to top $175 million before long, though it now looks like it may fall short of the $200 million mark. With a manageable $125 million budget, that it s nice return for a movie I still think looks ridiculous.

3) IF I STAY

Also repeating in the third place slot was If I Stay. The female-targeting drama dropped 40.7% (better than the second-week drop of the The Fault in Our Stars - 69%) and brought in $9.3 million. The film now has a total of $29.86 million. The modestly-budgeted film ($11 million reported) with turn a nice profit. It may not stick around a lot longer, but its looking like it will wind up at around $40 million or so before it exists completely.

4) AS ABOVE, SO BELOW

The latest attempt at reminding us that found footage horror is still around, As Above, So Below, opened in fourth place with $8.6 million. Compared to previous Labor Day horror films, it was slightly below Apollo 18 ($8.7 million) and in line with Shark Night 3D ($8.4 million) - neither of which is held in any kind of high regard. The movie also opened to a dismal "C-" cinemascore - 64% of whom were under 25. That means the film is not long for the top five or the top 10 for that matter. The saving grace is the film, like so many of these found footage films, is the budget is likely low. Still, the movie is likely to wind up at under $25 million - nothing to write home about.

5) LET'S BE COPS

The comedy rounded out the top five with $8.275 million - down 24% - and has now brought in $57.39 million. It has crossed the $50 million mark and at a modest $17 million budget means this is going to be one of the nicer results for the summer season. The film may have just enough left to hit $75 million, but that's about the best it's going to hope for before it leaves theaters.

Outside the top five: Pierce Brosnan isn't going to replace Liam Neeson as the world's elder statesman action star. The November Man opened to $7.88 million in sixth place. With its early release it stands at $9.58 million. Compared to previous Labor Day releases, it opened lower than The American ($13.2 million), The Debt ($9.9 million) and Lawless ($10 million). The audience was male 88% and 83% over 25. They did award it a solid "B+" cinemascore, but even so, this will also likely wind up below the $25 million mark.

The 30th Anniversary re-release of Ghostbusters opened in 15th place with $1.75 million. Also showing a good limited release was the Spanish-language Cantinflas (a biography based on one of the most beloved comedic actors in the country), which opened to $2.66 million in 12th place.

The summer is over, thus we enter into the fall lull. In fact, the only movie opening to a wide release is The Identical - a story about the fictional life of Elvis Presley - if his identical brother had not died in childbirth. This is from the same studio as God's Not Dead - so the faith angle could bring in a decent crowd.

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