It was a weird weekend. Poorly received new releases and the impending Frankenstorm (in no way related to Frankenweenie) allowed for cinema holdovers to vault up the box office chart. The big winner was Ben Affleck’s Argo. Typically, if a movie doesn’t open in first place its opening weekend it will never make it to number one. But the perfect storm of an upcoming election, the political nature of the film and how it relates to current problems in the Middle East, and outstanding word of mouth has made it managed to maintain interest in successive weeks. After a tremendous hold in viewership last weekend, it topped the charts this weekend with an estimated $12.4 million. That figure is enough to make it the second-lowest number one of the year (The Possession takes that honor when it finished #1 again in its second week with $11.5M.), but still a strong number for its third week in release. Sitting with a little more than $60M, it should have no problems making it to that celebrated number of $100M, but competition will be up in these coming weeks with the releases of Skyfall, Flight and other adult-oriented features.
The other big winner of the weekend was Sony’s Hotel Transylvania, which vaults from fourth to second in its fifth weekend of release. Chalk that up to its lack of competition. Don’t worry, after $130M it will drop sharply when Wreck-It Ralph opens on Friday.
As for newcomer Cloud Atlas, it had a sub-$10 million opening. This would be horrific if it was a full-blown Warner Bros. production. But it wasn’t. WB acquired it for around $20M. The production itself was $100 million, but independently financed. It was going to be a hard sell no matter the name of the studio distributing or amount of star talent assembled. The Wachowskis and Tom Twyker’s genre-spinning three-hour tale was a daunting cinematic achievement (at least I thought so), and Tom Hanks did his best to sell it to curious viewers, popping up all over the dial, from late night stops to appearing on The Colbert Report. I think I even saw him shopping it around on various infomercials (the Insanity 60 Day Workout, Nuwave Induction PIC Cooktop, et al.) International numbers could help its overall numbers, as it will be opening up in key markets over the next few months. The second best (and I use the term “second best” loosely) new release was the unnecessary sequel Silent Hill: Revelation. Six years after its predecessor and with new studio distribution, the sequel could only make $8M. That’s further behind Paranormal Activity 4 which had a sizable drop in its second week, losing about 70% of its first week viewership. Ouch. That’s bad, but not as bad as Friday the 13th (2009) dropping 80% in its second week. Hopefully, this means that the Paranormal franchise appeal has started to wane. But with a fifth about to go in production, a Latino spin-off (where’s my Canadian version, eh?), it looks like this franchise is far from being dead.
The lower half of the top ten is mostly holdovers. Taken 2 continues to do reasonable business for its fourth week, but with Skyfall opening in two weeks it won’t be able to overtake the $145M domestic haul of the original. But with killer international numbers (nearing $300 million worldwide), Liam Neeson will be taken again in a few years. Here Comes the Boom (horrible title) and Sinister are still giving Top 10 worthy performances. The latter will get a sizable boost in the midweek with Halloween. It has also shown impressive legs, able to bend but not break with the arrival of Paranormal Activity 4. Looks like Tyler Perry and Lionsgate were too busy counting their chickens before they hatched as they already were contemplating a sequel for Alex Cross. Guess that means we’ll be getting Tyler Perry presents Undercover Madea instead.
And if you want to talk about a calamitous opening for a wide release, well look no further than Paramount’s Fun Size. A Nickelodeon movie with a PG-13 rating? Hmmm. Now it if this was TeenNick, I would understand. But the marketing for Fun Size made it unclear if it was for tweeners or teenagers. It didn’t matter in the long run as neither turned up. Watching it a Saturday afternoon matinee in a 250-seat auditorium with ten other people, most were older than the target audience. Opening on more than 3,000 screens, it could only muster $4M, and with it being so close to eleventh place finisher Pitch Perfect, I could see this falling out of the top ten if box office actuals favor the sleeper hit comedy, which has made $51M in five weeks.
Another poor result was the performance of Fox’s Chasing Mavericks. The Gerard Butler-starring surf movie that did have the title of Of Men and Mavericks before it was changed netted a paltry $2.2 million at 2,002 locations.
Independent The Loneliest Planet opened to an excellent $20K on two screens, and will be getting expansion to other top markets in the coming weeks. Fox Searchlight’s The Sessions expanded from 4 to 20 screens and took in a very strong $230,000. Internationally, Skyfall has taken in a hugely impressive $77 million in its first few days, including a massive $32 million in the U.K. alone. That opening puts it just behind the final Harry Potter as U.K.’s biggest opener of all time. Early success and strong reviews should make this the most profitable Bond once it opens in the U.S. on November 9th.
Tags: Argo, box office, box office report, Chasing Mavericks, Cloud Atlas, fun size, Here comes the boom, Hotel Transylvania, Paranormal Activity 4, pitch perfect, Sinister, Skyfall, The Sessions, weekend box office, weekend box office report