Weekend Wrap Up: A Record Falls

After weeks of incredible mediocrity and often downright ignominy for the box office, it finally truly rebounded this week on the strength of two openers, one of which in particular had an absolute breakout weekend. Add in a stunning debut from a film in limited release and the box office has life again.

Hotel Transylvania

For ten long years, the title of highest opening weekend in September–arguably the worst month of the year for the box office–has belonged to Sweet Home Alabama, which opened to 35 million back in 2002. Such a long reign is very unusual. Only The Passion of the Christ comes close, as it has held the February record for eight years. It’s unusual for a monthly record to last more than five years, but today we bid farewell to Reese Witherspoon and welcome in Adam Sandler.

Hotel Transylvania debuted to a very strong 43 million, well above tracking estimates and quite a bit above my own prediction of 27 million. Its reviews haven’t been good at all, but kiddies have been starved for entertainment lately, with onlythe rerelease of Finding Nemo to hold them over. The Adam Sandler flick, despite the bad reviews, seems primed to play well through October and won’t have any trouble getting well over 100 million.

Second place belongs to fellow opener Looper, which opens to about half of Hotel Transylvania, with 21 million. This is still a strong debut, and after the failures of Premium Rush and The Cold Light of Day, I’m sure Willis and Gordon-Levitt would’ve been happy with anything about 15 million. The time travel flick has glowing reviews so I think it should hold well in the weeks to come and has an outside shot at 100 million.

Last week’s champ, End of Watch, held decently, slipping 39% to eight million. For a film with a 7 million budget, its 26 million total gross so far is very solid. Close behind is Trouble with the Curve as the Clint Eastwood picture dropped 38% to 7.5 million. Its total of 24 million isn’t too bad. Next we have House at the End of the Street, which predictably fell harder than its fellow openers from last weekend, though its 42% drop is still way better than I expected. Give the J-Law flick 7.2 million this weekend and a good 22 million against a small 10 million budget.

Now, this could really be the story of the weekend. A movie I’d never heard of before Friday, and which I completely disregarded when making my predictions, Pitch Perfect, somehow opens 5.2 million despite being in only 335 theatres. Its per theatre average of $15,522 was nearly $3,000 higher than Hotel Transylvania. I still have no idea what this movie is. I think there might be singing or something? Well, regardless, good for everyone involved with this one, as this might be on its way to becoming a major sleeper hit.

Crashing 59% is Finding Nemo, which makes sense as kids would flock to Hotel Transylvania. It made a little over 4 million this weekend and lifted its total about 36 million. Disney’s gotta be hoping Monster’s Inc 3D does better in December. Also falling hard, 55%, is Resident Evil Retribution. Another 3 million lifts it to about 39 million, which might be just barely enough to justify another sequel.

The Master, in just 856 theatres, dropped 38% to 2.75 million. Its $3,207 per theatre average, while still unspectacular, ranks fourth among the top ten. Finally, in tenth, we have the awful debut of Won’t Back Down, which managed just 2.7 million and will be promptly utterly forgotten. All in all, the top 12 had its highest gross in a month and a half. Next week’s openers have a good chance of maintaining this new found momentum.

Frankenweenie: I’ve already ranted about my dislike of Tim Burton, but I will admit that for the most part his films are successful. Frankenweenie really is right up his alley and I’m sure his fans will eat it up. Plus, opening on the first weekend of October, with Halloween on people’s minds, is smart.

Taken 2: I’m very pumped for this film, although it looks like a complete retread of the first movie. Then again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It could be a tight race for the top spot, and if Hotel Transylvania holds well enough, it might hold on to the top spot. Still, we’ve got a very good chance of three movies making over 20 million next weekend. After enduring some awful weekends, these are suddenly some good times to be a box office analyst.

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