By Chris Kavan - 09/30/12 at 10:53 PM CT
After weeks of plenty of disappointment at the box office, I predicted that this was the weekend that would turn things around. While the movie I was hoping would open in #1 didn't quite make it to the top, the overall box office was up 21% compared to last year and news like that makes studios happy and hopefully means good things for the future.
Hotel Transylvania was the top draw over the weekend with a $43 million opening. How good is that? It managed to break the record of best September opening (topping Sweet Home Alabama's $35.6 million), and it managed the best one-day September total with $19 million on Saturday. Not only that, it was also Sony's best animated film opening, topping both The Smurfs ($35.6 million) and Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs ($30.3 million).
It was also good news for Adam Sandler, who enjoyed his second-best opening ever, just behind The Longest Yard ($47.6 million). After a string of less-than-impressive openings, including Jack & Jill, That's My Boy, Funny People and Don't Mess with the Zohan - this is provides a much-needed boost for Sandler. Not surprisingly, families made up the majority of the audience (78%) and they awarded it an A-, meaning it should have some pretty good legs in the coming weeks. This is not the type of film I see in theaters, but I rarely pass up a chance to check out an animated film at home simply because they're easy to digest and often a lot of fun (because who amongst us isn't still a kid at heart?).
Now on to a film I did indeed see in theaters. In second place the time-traveling sci-fi/action film Looper, with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Leviit, took in $21.2 million. That's an improvement over Source Code ($14.8 million) and Wills' Surrogates (414.9 million) though it couldn't match District 9 ($37.4 million). While I was hoping for a bit more for this film, it just goes to show that even with spectacular reviews and a big marketing push, selling an original R-rated film is still tough, even with the amount of talent involved. It still should have no problem making back its $30 million budget.
Two films targeting female audiences had vastly different results this week. On the bad end of the spectrum, Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal's Won't Back Down ended up way down in 10th place with just $2.7 million. It was the second-worst opening for a film in 2500 or more theaters, narrowly avoiding the title currently held by The Rocker ($2.64 million). Fox obviously didn't think too highly of it, as there was virtually zero advertising and they pretty much buried it.
On the other end of the spectrum, despite opening in just 335 theater, Pitch Perfect earned $5.2 million - good enough for sixth place. Not only did it have a knockout $15,522 per-theater average, but the mostly female audience (74%) gave it an A cinemascore (A+ for those 25 and under), which should translate to great word-of-mouth for its nationwide push this coming week.
Rounding out the top five: End of Watch dropped from 1st to 3rd place with $8 million (down 39.2%) and now stands at $26.2 million. It should pass director David Ayer's Street Kings ($26.4 million) in the next day to become his highest grossing film to date.
In fourth place was Trouble with the Curve with $7.5 million, raising its total to $23.7 million. It held reasonably well, dropping just 38%, but it's still running behind what one would expect from Clint Eastwood.
In fifth place was House at the End of the Street which dropped three spots from second to fifth with $7.1 million. It held remarkably well for a horror film, down just 41.8% and its $22.2 million looks good compared to its $10 million budget. While it won't break any records, it should end up somewhere north of $30 million by the time it's done.
Outside the top 10, Perks of Being a Wallflower added 98 theaters to its limited run and jumped nearly 400% to 13th place with $1.13 million. After its nice four-theater opening, and this expansion, it should enjoy even more success as it continues its expansion.
Next week, aside from the nationwide expansion of Pitch Perfect, there is also Taken 2 (which seems to be taking a page from The Hangover II in being exactly like the first movie only in a different location) and Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, which will attempt to sway the Halloween family crowd away from Hotel Transylvania. Hopefully studios will continue to be happy with the results.