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Henry Cavill, Bradley Cooper Box Office: One of Worst Weekends in Two Decades

Henry Cavill The Cold Light of DayHenry Cavill / Bradley Cooper movies debut in 2012's worst weekend and one of the worst of last two decades

Box Office Mojo has released box office results – or rather, estimates – for this weekend's moviegoing attendance in North America. Okay, so it's not a catastrophe akin to the record-breaking melt of the polar ice caps, but it was a catastrophic weekend at the U.S. and Canada box office all the same. (Image: the upcoming Man of Steel's Henry Cavill in The Cold Light of Day.)

If studio estimates are accurate, the Sept. 7-9 weekend is by far the worst of 2012 – the top twelve movies grossed about $30 million less than the previous Worst 2012 Box-Office Weekend, Aug. 24-26. And if inflation is taken into account (as it always should so as to better reflect the actual number of tickets sold), it's also one of the very worst of the last two decades: Adjusted for inflation, this weekend's estimated $51.28 million total is the lowest for the second weekend in September since 1991 – the year Kenneth Branagh / Emma Thompson's Dead Again topped the domestic box office with $4.36 million (approx. $8.3 million today) at 789 theaters.

Box office: No movie above $10 million for the first time in four years

For the first time since the Nicolas Cage bomb Bangkok Dangerous opened with $7.78 million (approx. $8.69 million today) in September 2008, no movie managed to earn more than $10 million in the United States and Canada. Among the top twelve movies, none boasted a per-theater average above $5,000 and only one – Lionsgate's horror thriller The Possession – had an average above $2,000 (an estimated $3,352 per venue to be exact).

The Words, The Cold Light of Day bomb

Once again, if studio estimates are accurate, two new wide releases, Bradley Cooper / Zoe Saldana's mystery / romantic drama The Words (with $5 million at 2,801 locations, no. 3 this weekend) and Henry Cavill / Bruce Willis' virtually unmarketed thriller The Cold Light of Day (with $1.8 million at 1,511 locations, no. 13), have delivered two of the worst wide-release opening weekends ever (once again, if inflation is taken into account).

Adjusting for inflation the Box Office Mojo chart, the Summit Entertainment release The Cold Light of Day had one of the worst 50 wide release openings of the last three decades, averaging a paltry $1,176 per venue. With $1,763, CBS Films' The Words is no. 125 on the chart. (Another 2012 Bradley Cooper movie, Hit and Run, is no. 89, with $1,558.)

Box office: Movies down sharply, low per-theater averages

With the exception of the Will Ferrell / Zach Galifianakis satirical comedy The Campaign (and new entry The Words), every single movie among the top twelve was down 40 percent or more compared to last weekend. Steep drop-off rates despite the fact that four movies added theaters, including sizable increases by both John Hillcoat / Shia LaBeouf / Tom Hardy's bootlegging drama Lawless (250 venues) and Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan's anti-Obama documentary 2016 Obama's America (270 venues).

Even the George Lucas / Steven Spielberg / Harrison Ford 1981 adventure classic Raiders of the Lost Ark, beloved by zillions and all, was a box office disappointment. If studio estimates are accurate, the Best Picture nominee grossed only $1.72 million (no. 14 on the chart) at 267 (pricier) IMAX locations, averaging a so-so $6,461 per site.

Late summer box office curse?

But is the second weekend in September cursed? Well ... Steven Soderbergh's all-star disease drama Contagion, featuring the likes of Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, and Gwyneth Paltrow, opened with $22.4 million last year. Milla Jovovich's Resident Evil: Afterlife grossed $26.65 million in 2010, while Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself collected $23.44 million in 2009. In 2007, Russell Crowe / Christian Bale's 3:10 to Yuma opened with $14.03 million (approx. $16.3 million today), and in 2005 The Exorcism of Emily Rose had an excellent $30.05 million debut (approx. $37.6 million today).

So, the answer is no. Though historically a weak weekend, situated between the end of summer and the beginning of the fall/awards season, there's no Second Weekend in September Box-Office Curse. What happened this year is that Hollywood studios and independent distributors released movies people didn't want to watch.

Bradley Cooper The Words movieBradley Cooper / The Words fail to top box office chart

The Possession, Ole Bornedal's horror flick featuring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick, was the top movie at the North American box office this dismal Sept. 7-9 weekend – one of the worst box office weekends of the last two decades. According to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo, the Lionsgate release took in an estimated $9.5 million (cume: $33.34 million), once again performing above expectations. (Image: Bradley Cooper The Words.)

Following two no. 1 slots for The Expendables 2 and one for The Possession, this weekend has granted Lionsgate its fourth consecutive domestic box office crown.

At no. 2 this weekend was John Hillcoat's bootlegging drama Lawless, starring the Transformers movies' Shia LaBeouf and The Dark Knight Rises' Tom Hardy. The Weinstein Company release also featuring Alice in Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska and The Help's Jessica Chastain raked in an estimated $6 million (cume: $23.52m).

The no. 3 movie was new entry The Words, starring The Hangover's Bradley Cooper and Avatar's Zoe Saldana. The CBS Films release collected a paltry $5 million at 2,801 locations. The Words was followed by the Sylvester Stallone / Jason Statham / Liam Hemsworth actioner The Expendables 2 with $4.75 million (cume: $75.41m).

At no. 5 was the Tony Gilroy / Jeremy Renner thriller The Bourne Legacy with $4 million, and a cume of $103.7 million. The only other top-twelve movie with a cume above $100 million is Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale / Anne Hathaway's The Dark Knight Rises, with $437.84 million.

Weekend box Office: The Dark Knight Rises, 2016 Obama's America very close

Rounding out this weekend's top twelve movies were the following: at no. 6, ParaNorman with $3.86 million (cume: $45.09 million), followed by The Odd Life of Timothy Green with $3.65 million (cume: $43 million), the Will Ferrell / Zach Galifianakis political satire The Campaign with $3.53 million (cume: $79.47 million), and The Dark Knight Rises with $3.285 million.

Also: Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan's anti-Obama documentary 2016 Obama's America with $3.281 million (cume: $26.08m) at no. 10, followed by Meryl Streep / Tommy Lee Jones / Steve Carell's Hope Springs with $2.8 million (cume: $57.51m) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Premium Rush with $2.3 million (cume: $16.73m).

Needless to say, there'll likely be some switching around when box office actuals are released on Monday. Estimates for The Dark Knight Rises and 2016 Obama's America were particularly close.

Not on Top Twelve chart: The Cold Light of Day, Raiders of the Lost Ark

And if box office estimates are accurate, neither the upcoming Superman Henry Cavill / Bruce Willis thriller The Cold Light of Day nor the IMAX rerelease of George Lucas / Steven Spielberg / Harrison Ford's Raiders of the Lost Ark cracked the top twelve box office chart. At no. 13, new entry The Cold Light of Day opened with an abysmal $1.8 million at 1,511 sites. At no. 14, Raiders of the Lost Ark grossed $1.72 million at 267 (costlier) IMAX locations, averaging a so-so $6,461 per venue.

On September 18, "Indiana Jones: The Complete Collection," which includes 1981 Best Picture nominee Raiders of the Lost Ark, will be out on Blu-ray.

Bradley Cooper The Words photo: CBS Films.

Henry Cavill The Cold Light of Day photo: Summit Entertainment.

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