Weekend Box Office: The Possession Repeats In One Of The Worst Box Office Weekends Ever

Extreme was right. This movie needed “More Than Words.”

No film grosses more than $10 million, and the top ten combines for less than $47 million. Also, 7 of the 10 films begin with the word “the”. That’s got to some kind of record, right?

“Welcome to the suck.” It’s more than a term coined by the U.S. Marines. It could also describe this weekend at the box office. September by and large sucks for new movies. It’s Hollywod’s dumping ground for films it has no confidence in to perform. Which means it is the perfect time to release low-cost horror features or perhaps films that have aspirations of Academy Award glory. Instead of getting Gangster Squad (delayed because of the Aurora, Col. theater shooting and Warner Bros. deciding to do reshoots to replace the gangland style theater shooting in the film), we get Bradley Cooper and The Words, and Bruce Willis and The Cold Light of the Day. The first was pushed as part of in-theater advertising with an EPK fluff piece about its development. The other is one that could have gone direct to video.

Even with Bradley Cooper’s rising popularity, if he’s not playing a douchebag character no one will race to see him opening weekend. His biggest non-Hangover hit was Limitless and that was more of a slow burn, earning more than $70 million domestic. It appealed to the same audience that The Words wants to, but it isn’t as lethargic and sleepwalking as Words. But there is a bright spot to such a dismal weekend. Lionsgate has topped the box office for four straight weekends, due to The Expendables finishing off the summer in not-so-dominating fashion, and The Possession repeating this weekend in the top spot.

Working for The Possession is its low price tag of $14 million. Sam Raimi and his Ghost House Films were able to keep costs low by not going for major stars – no offense to fans of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgewick. Remarkably, the demon possession flick didn’t post a plus-50% drop in its second weekend like most horror features. With $33M after two weeks no doubt Lionsgate is hoping to see this possession flick gross north of $50 million before it leaves theaters and gets dumped to DVD in January (another month that Hollywood likes to dump films that couldn’t handle a holiday release).

Lawless repeats in second place with $9M. At one time The Weinstein Company may have thought John Hillcoat’s Prohibition-era drama may have been an Oscar contender, but it looks like it may be an Oscar pretender, and will have to settle for more exposure on DVD and Blu-ray. Not helping its financial situation was changing the name of the film from The Wettest County in the World to the generic-sounding Lawless. But sometimes generic titles sale better than the original ones.

Getting a ho-hum third place finish was CBS Films’ The Words. The young company picked it up for $2M at Sundance and put its money into advertising. Though I may have only seen a few TV spots which included a few key phrases like “Breathtaking” from the likes of Pete Hammond. This makes two straight misfires for Bradley Cooper who did both The Words and Dax Shepard’s Hit & Run as a means to help friends out. Now he can concentrate on the fall with David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, starring alongside Jennifer Lawrence of Hunger Games‘ fame.

Rounding out the top five we have The Expendables 2 and ParaNorman. For the GIA (Geriatrics in Action), it will need a few walkers to get to $90M. As for the stop-motion, Halloween-friendly it is also underperforming, but it sees itself still relevant to top five talk as it is the only thing playing for kids that doesn’t involve a kid that sprouts from the ground. Nope that honor goes to Disney’s The Odd Life Of Timothy Green. Adding 82 screens wasn’t enough for Timmy to pass Norman. Definitely not director Peter Hedges finest hour, but at least we had a film where its protagonists made and blabbed about the creation of pencils. You don’t see that everyday.

The Bourne Legacy finally made it over the $100M mark and the political comedy The Campaign approached $80M. Perfect time to get them out of theaters by the end of September and on the store shelves for holiday giftgiving. The anti-Obama documentary 2016: Obama’s America saw expansion in the wake of the DNC. The documentary has outgrossed a few Michael Moore documentaries (like Sicko, Roger & Me and Bowling for Columbine) but it won’t get close to touching the unattainable grosses of Fahrenheit 9/11.

As for that Bruce Willis movie I mentioned earlier (The Cold Light of the Day), it’s really Henry Cavill’s (aka next year’s Superman) movie. It also has Signourney Weaver. Consider it a casualty of Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment merging. I may have seen one of its trailers place once before a feature. So the advertising was pretty much nil. Day may have made $1.8M but it was nearly outgrossed by the re-release of Raiders of the Lost Ark at 267 IMAX locations. Let this be a lesson to studios, if one of your classics is approaching an anniversary, dust it up a bit and present it in IMAX for a limited engagement. None of this one-night only stuff.

With no must-see new releases in limited release, let’s talk about how some of the holdovers have performed. Sony Pictures Classics’ Robot & Frank saw expansion into 58 new theaters and made $540k. Sleepwalk with Me expanded further in week three to collect $343k at 73 locations. The biggest earner in limited release was Samsara which jumped from 9 to 26 theaters to gross $200k to bring its three-week total to $488k. As for The Weinstein Company’s distribution of the overseas hit The Intouchables, since its U.S. debut it has earned $8.5M in 16 weeks. Not quite the $355.5M it earned over in Europe. What can I say, most Americans refuse to read subtitles. Nevertheless, support your local arthouse or non-mainstream theater, m’kay?

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Source: Box Office Mojo