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'The Possession' Tops Box Office As 'Lawless' Struggles


Without much competition for thrill-seeking audiences, horror release "The Possession" was easily the top box office draw of the holiday weekend, grossing $17.7 million from Friday to Sunday and easily landing as the number one box office draw. R-rated period piece "Lawless" also opened wide but ended up posting weak numbers, earning $10 million on a meager per venue average of less than $3,500. "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure" was the third wide release of the weekend, though it posted the worst opening of 2,000 or more venues in box office history and hauled in a shockingly low $206 per site.

Carrying a production budget of only $14 million, "The Possession" looks to be the latest low-budget horror film to catch on with mainstream audiences. Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick, "The Possession" racked up a solid three-day total of $17.7 million and $21.3 million including numbers from Labor Day, giving it a very solid debut for distributor Lionsgate. Even if "The Possession" sees a substantial slide next weekend, it should still end up as one of the top low-budget earners of the year, which is even more impressive considering its difficult release timing.

"The Possession" also should have an advantage moving forward, as next weekend's wide releases "The Cold Light of Day" and "The Words" aren't in good position to make much of a box office impact. Look for "The Possession" to put up one more solid weekend and to end up as another commercial success for distributor Lionsgate.

Not doing nearly as well over the weekend was prohibition-era drama "Lawless." Even with a cast filled with recognizable faces including Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman, "Lawless" struggled to find its intended adult audience, grossing a disappointing $10 million for the three-day weekend and adding only $3 million on Labor Day. Including slow numbers from last Wednesday and Thursday, "Lawless" posted a disappointing six-day total of $15.1 million, which is a low total for a release of nearly 2,900 venues. "Lawless" at least doesn't have much competition next weekend, though so-so critical support won't help turn around a meager opening.

Even though "Lawless" struggled to reach commercial expectations, it was far from the worst opening of the weekend. "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure" hit 2,160 theaters hoping to make an impact with family audiences, though a complete lack of buzz kept it out of the top 20 as it earned just $445,000 for the three-day weekend. With such a poor opening, "Oogieloves" ended up finishing below "Delgo" to break the record for the worst opening of 2,000 theaters. After "Delgo" was yanked from theaters after just one weekend, "Oogieloves" could follow suit and wrap up its theatrical run with the shortest stint in theaters this year.

While some of the new releases struggled to find their intended demographics, "The Dark Knight Rises" continued its impressive run by surpassing the $1 billion worldwide mark. Though "The Dark Knight Rises" will finish below some industry projections, it still ranks as the 12th highest grossing movie in history and should continue to do well outside of the U.S. well into the fall. Even with director Christopher Nolan stepping down from his celebrated Batman franchise, the trilogy concluded on such a high note that Warner Brothers will doubtless be looking to reinvent the franchise one way or another over the next few years.

Next weekend, the box office will continue its slow pace, as action-thriller "The Cold Light of Day" and drama "The Words" will be the only two wide releases hitting theaters. The release schedule will then pick up later in the month with director Paul Thomas Anderson's highly anticipated art-house flick "The Master," a 3D rerelease of Pixar's smash hit "Finding Nemo" and "Resident Evil: Retribution," the fifth installment of the popular action franchise.

Early Studio Box Office Estimates for 8/31/12 - 9/2/12 (in millions), [RTT Prediction]:

1. The Possession (Lionsgate): $17.70 [$12.5]

2. Lawless (Weinstein): $10 [$12]

3. The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate): $8.90 [$6.8]

4. The Bourne Legacy (Universal): $7.33 [$4.8]

5. ParaNorman (Focus): $6.57 [$4.6]

6. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Brother): $6.10 [$3.7]

7. The Campaign (Warner Brothers): $5.67 [$4.1]

8. The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Disney): $6.25 [$3.6]

9. 2016 Obama's America (Rocky Mountain): $5.59 [$3.2]

10. Hope Springs (Sony/Columbia): $4.70 [N/A]

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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