Weekend Box Office (September 27 - 29, 2013)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Sony hit the top spot in North America with its new animated sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 which grossed more than the frame's other three wide openers combined. The PG-rated 3D pic bowed to $34M from an ultrawide 4,001 theaters delivering a $8,502 average, according to final studio figures. Compared to the first Cloudy from this same month four years ago, the sequel's opening weekend gross was 12% higher but its average fell 13%. The original, also in 3D, was released in nearly 900 fewer locations bowing to $30.3M on its way to $124.9M, or four times its opening weekend.

Meatballs 2 had a solid debut for sure, but considering how well-liked the first film was and how empty the marketplace is right now for family movies, the opening was not stellar. A year ago this weekend, the same studio found itself with a $42.5M opening for the animated comedy Hotel Transylvania which did not have the benefit of a built-in audience. It did boast the voice talents of box office titan Adam Sandler, however the toon was not promoted as a Sandler vehicle per se.

But the road ahead for Meatballs looks promising as the entire month of October lacks new kidpics. It's a rare case for studios to just give up on a whole month like this. Also audiences did like the new $78M-budgeted food flick as the CinemaScore grade was an A- so reaching past the $100M domestic mark is certainly possible. Reviews were decent, but not outstanding.

2013 has seen Hollywood supply too many 3D animated movies - more than the marketplace demands - and many recent titles have underperformed due to toon fatigue. But Meatballs 2 aims to use its brand and lack of competition to become the top-grossing animated pic since the juggernaut Despicable Me 2.

Falling 48% in its second weekend and landing in second place was last week's top film Prisoners with $10.9M. The Warner Bros. release has grossed $38.5M in ten days and should end up with around $65M, a solid amount for an adult drama opening in September.

Ron Howard's Formula One drama Rush expanded nationwide after a one-week platform run and raced into third place this weekend with $10M. It was a respectable showing as the Universal release averaged $4,360 from 2,297 theaters. With a non-American cast and subject matter, the R-rated film was a tough sell to U.S. crowds and a marketplace filled with other options for adults did not help any. Cume is now $10.3M.

With solid buzz from the Toronto International Film Festival, stellar reviews, and an encouraging A- CinemaScore grade, Rush hopes to keep attracting business in the weeks ahead thanks to word-of-mouth. However, direct competition for adults will only get more fierce each week in October especially with Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney looking to deliver a powerful debut next weekend. Studio research showed that the 1970s-set Rush played 52% male and skewed old - 53% were 40 or above.

The comedy Baggage Claim premiered in fourth place to decent results collecting $9M from 2,027 locations for a moderate $4,455 average. Panned by critics, the PG-13 film starring Paula Patton as a woman determined to get engaged before her younger sister's wedding skewed towards an audience of African-American women. Customers liked what they paid for as the CinemaScore grade was an A-.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt made a modest debut in fifth place with his first directorial effort Don Jon which grossed $8.7M from 2,422 theaters for a soft $3,583 average. The R-rated pic about a ladies man addicted to porn who finally meets Ms. Right (Scarlett Johansson) garnered strong reviews from critics, but was rejected by those who actually paid to see the movie.

Its CinemaScore grade was a disappointing C+. That was close to the C- from Ryan Gosling's Drive from 2011 which was another September pic centered around a hot young male star which won over critics, but got a thumbs down from ticket buyers. Sometimes quality doesn't sell. A crowded marketplace for adult stories made things tough and the Don Jon opening was almost identical to the $8.6M bow and $3,517 average of the actor's cancer comedy 50/50 from two years ago this very weekend.

Dropping 53% in its third scare was the hit fright sequel Insidious Chapter 2 with $6.6M giving FilmDistrict a stellar $69.3M to date. Relativity collected $3.7M for The Family, down 47%, for a $31.8M cume.

Falling 36% was the Mexican comedy Instructions Not Included with $3.5M and a total of $38.7M for Lionsgate. It now stands as the highest-grossing Spanish-language film of all-time in the U.S. surpassing Pan's Labyrinth.

The Jennifer Aniston comedy We're the Millers became only the second summer film this year to last for eight weeks in the top ten joining Iron Man 3, the year's top-grossing blockbuster. The sleeper smash took in $2.8M, off 38%, for a $142.4M sum to date. Rounding out the top ten was the White House hit The Butler with $2.4M, down 43%, putting The Weinstein Co. at $110.3M.

Fox Searchlight enjoyed a solid expansion for its indie romantic comedy Enough Said starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini. Widening from four to 227 locations, the well-reviewed pic grossed $2.1M for a promising $9,246 average. Enough has banked $2.5M to date. Next weekend's expansion will see the theater count double, though it will have to lure eyeballs away from Bullock and Clooney.

The concert-thriller hybrid Metallica Through the Never opened outside the top ten with its IMAX 3D release debuting to an estimated $1.7M from 305 locations for a $5,482 average which was only moderate given the higher prices. Tickets cost as high as $21.50 each in New York City. The R-rated title earned good reviews and was distributed by Picturehouse which goes wider next weekend into about 650 playdates including conventional screens.

The top ten films grossed $91.6M which was down 11% from last year when Hotel Transylvania debuted at number one with $42.5M; but up 10% from 2011 when Dolphin Tale climbed into the top spot with $13.9M.

Compared to projections, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 opened below my $44M forecast. Rush and Don Jon also came in under my respective predictions of $13M and $12M while Baggage Claim debuted ahead of my $7M projection.

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Watch the trailer for Machete Kills.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Gravity and Runner Runner open.

# Title Sep 27 - 29 Sep 20 - 22 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 $ 34,017,930 4,001 1 $ 8,502 $ 34,017,930 Sony
2 Prisoners 10,865,262 20,817,053 -47.8 3,290 2 3,303 38,549,194 Warner Bros.
3 Rush 10,014,920 187,289 2,297 2 4,360 10,275,829 Universal
4 Baggage Claim 9,031,102 2,027 1 4,455 9,031,102 Fox Searchlight
5 Don Jon 8,677,009 2,422 1 3,583 8,677,009 Relativity
6 Insidious Chapter 2 6,552,114 13,801,818 -52.5 3,120 3 2,100 69,349,509 FilmDistrict
7 The Family 3,732,432 7,000,722 -46.7 2,894 3 1,290 31,754,602 Relativity
8 Instructions Not Included 3,465,408 5,396,688 -35.8 948 5 3,655 38,652,896 Lionsgate
9 We're the Millers 2,807,479 4,558,271 -38.4 2,405 8 1,167 142,360,931 Warner Bros.
10 The Butler 2,401,793 4,193,123 -42.7 2,062 7 1,165 110,265,862 Weinstein Co.
11 Enough Said 2,098,902 232,800 801.6 227 2 9,246 2,466,381 Fox Searchlight
12 Battle of the Year 2,023,792 4,603,177 -56.0 2,008 2 1,008 7,492,084 Sony
13 Metallica Through the Never (IMAX) 1,672,000 305 1 5,482 1,672,000 Picturehouse
14 Riddick 1,607,145 3,656,620 -56.0 1,826 4 880 40,056,710 Universal
15 Atharintiki Daaredi 1,216,924 93 1 13,085 1,216,924 SVCC
16 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters 801,522 1,776,271 -54.9 1,007 8 796 65,380,273 Fox
17 Despicable Me 2 792,895 1,360,420 -41.7 748 13 1,060 361,774,715 Universal
18 Planes 759,290 2,709,736 -72.0 1,426 8 532 87,681,449 Disney
19 Blue Jasmine 624,245 1,212,206 -48.5 528 10 1,182 30,662,232 Sony Classics
20 The Wizard of Oz (IMAX) 557,233 3,093,998 -82.0 305 2 1,827 5,081,049 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 72,606,223 $ 51,619,458 40.7
Top 10 91,565,449 69,831,206 31.1
Top 20 103,053,768 79,867,441 29.0
Top 20 vs. 2012 103,053,768 113,084,212 -8.9

Last Updated: September 30, 2013 at 9:20PM ET

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