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Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania reached nearly full capacity over the weekend, shattering the decade-long September record held by 2002’s Sweet Home Alabama.
After back-to-back misfires for Adam Sandler (those being Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy if you’ve already forgotten), the funnyman rebounded with his animated monster mash that opened to $42.5 million, offering his shtick in a family friendly capacity.
With Finding Nemo 3D being the last family-oriented offering in the marketplace (now four weeks old), the promising-looking premise and star-studded cast attracted moviegoers in droves. Even with 3D surcharges, this is still the second-most attended September debut after Rush Hour, which marks a huge win for its lead and the fledgling animation house.
For an original sci-fi entry (also from Sony), Looper opened admirably to $20.8 million, and while it doesn't seem like much, it is actually the third best opening for a time travel movie that is not part of an established brand. Only The Time Machine and Meet the Robinsons debuted stronger.
The real success of Looper this weekend comes from overseas where the sci-fi action flick collected an estimated $24 million in China (where parts of the film were set). It's a robust start in its own right, but it also marks the first time a film opened bigger in China than North America.
Following in third, fourth and fifth place were last weekend’s newcomers, which all held up very well in their sophomore frame. End of Watch dropped 40 percent, Trouble with the Curve the same and most surprisingly, the panned horror flick House at the End of the Street by just 42 percent – fantastic for a film of its genre and critical standing.
The Top 101. Hotel Transylvania - $42.5M (weekend)…$42.5M (gross)
Surprising in sixth was a cappella comedy Pitch Perfect, which in spite of debuting in just 335 locations took in $5.1 million for a huge $15,371 per-theater average. Word of mouth is extremely strong amongst its target demographic and it will be interesting to see if we have a sleeper hit on our hands when it expands next weekend.
Tanking in tenth was Won’t Back Down, the inner-city education reform drama that had zero buzz and grossed just $2.6 million for one of the worst averages of all time for a film opening in more than 2,500 theaters.
Far more promising was the expansion of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which added 98 theaters and took in $1.1 million for a strong $10,823 per-location mean. Expect Summit to add more screens in the coming month.
Following a glut of new films, things quiet down somewhat. Leading the way is Liam Neeson, whose action sequel Taken 2 looks for revenge in more than 3,000 theaters. The movie is followed by Tim Burton’s stop-motion Frankenweenie, which comes alive in 2,900. Burton faithful should turn out despite another family-oriented film already in play.