With an impressive $43 million opening haul, "Hotel Transylvania" easily finished atop the charts over the weekend, putting up the best September opening in history and the biggest weekend by any movie since the end of July. Meanwhile, R-rated sci-fi film "Looper" finished with a strong $21 million, easily enough to make it a success for distributor TriStar. Comedy "Pitch Perfect" also landed in the top 10 with a studio estimated $5.20 million at just 335 theaters, while drama "Won't Back Down" ended up with a disastrous release of only $2.70 million despite a wide release.
Backed by a well-known voice cast led by Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Steve Buscemi, "Hotel Transylvania" had no problem appealing to family audiences over the weekend, helping the PG animated film rack up a very strong $12,840 per site. Expectations were fairly high considering the $85 million production budget of "Transylvania," but breaking the decade-old September record of "Sweet Home Alabama" is a great sign for the Sony/Columbia distribution.
The only downside for "Transylvania" is that it will go head-to-head next weekend with Tim Burton's animated "Frankenweenie," which is gathering plenty of critical support as it heads into its Friday release. But while "Frankenweenie" plays mostly to families with older kids, "Transylvania" should still have appeal to families with kids of all ages, which should allow "Transylvania" a few more good weekends despite the competition. Look for "Transylvania" to finish its box office run as one of the top overall earners of the fall and one of the biggest family hits of the year.
Aiming at a much different demographic this weekend was "Looper," a critically acclaimed sci-fi-thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt. "Looper" brought in a respectable $21 million over the weekend at just under 3,000 total venues, making it an opening success for distributor TriStar. With a slim production budget, "Looper" is one of only a handful of 2012 releases to cost $30 million or less and bring in $20 million opening weekend, making it one of the most successful low-budget releases of the year. Thanks to some intense competition for action audiences next weekend from "Taken 2," "Looper" could see a significant decline at the box office in the short term, but positive critical and audience buzz should keep audiences coming back to "Looper" throughout the month of October.
Also hitting theaters in wide release this weekend was Fox's "Won't Back Down," though the Maggie Gyllenhaal-starring drama finished with one of the worst openings of the year. Despite playing at more than 2,500 total venues, "Won't Back Down" barely squeezed into the top 10 with only $2.70 million in opening revenue, setting it up for a very short run in theaters. Look for "Won't Back Down" to see a dramatic decrease in screenings over the next week.
But while "Won't Back Down" couldn't find its audience, limited release "Pitch Perfect" did very well at only 355 theaters. Starring Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks, "Pitch Perfect" put together an impressive per theater average of more than $15,000, which was enough to easily place it in the top 10 with $5.20 million in opening revenue. As it expands to more theaters next weekend, expect "Pitch Perfect" to put up some decent numbers thanks to a strong limited opening and some positive critical support.
Another title hoping to build on strong critical support is art house film "The Master," which landed again in the top 10 but isn't catching on with audiences the way that distributor Weinstein would have liked. From acclaimed director Paul Thomas Anderson, "The Master" has been critically revered and is in line to do fairly well during awards season at the end of the year, but it's also a divisive, challenging film that seems to have scared away much of its potential audience. Expect "The Master" to hang around in theaters for a little while longer but to finish with an unimpressive overall box office total.
Next weekend, Liam Neeson's action-thriller "Taken 2" should be able to overcome scathing critical reviews and competition to land atop the box office charts as we turn the page to a packed October release schedule. Tim Burton's animated film "Frankenweenie" will give "Hotel Transylvania" some competition and comedy "Pitch Perfect" will expand nationwide after opening in limited release this weekend.
Early Studio Box Office Estimates for 9/28/12 - 9/30/12 (in millions), [RTT Prediction]:
1) Hotel Transylvania (Sony/Columbia): $43 [$28]
2) Looper (TriStar): $21.20 [$21]
3) End of Watch (Open Road Films): $8 [$7]
4) Trouble with the Curve (Warner Bros.): $7.53 [$6.6]
5) House at the End of the Street (Relativity): $7.15 [$6.2]
6) Pitch Perfect (Universal): $5.20 [N/A]
7) Finding Nemo 3D (Disney): $4.07 [$5]
8) Resident Evil: Retribution (Sony/Screen Gems): $3 [$3.4]
9) The Master (Weinstein): $2.75 [$2.9]
10) Won't Back Down (Fox): $2.70 [$5.2]
by RTT Staff Writer
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