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Box Office News: Tyler Perry & Clint Eastwood Flop

Tyler Perry Alex Cross
Tyler Perry in Alex Cross.
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Tyler Perry’s Alex Cross box office actuals below estimates

Oct. 22 update: We all knew that Paramount’s Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman-directed Paranormal Activity 4 opened way below expectations this past weekend, Oct. 19-21, at the domestic box office. Box office actuals released Monday show an even more downbeat picture: Paranormal Activity 4 collected a relatively modest $29 million – about $5–$6 million below what Friday figures indicated – at 3,412 locations as reported at boxofficemojo.com. That includes $4.5 million from Thursday 9 p.m. and midnight screenings.

For comparison’s sake: on opening weekend, Paranormal Activity 3 brought in $52.56 million, while Paranormal Activity 2 raked in $40.67 million.

For comparison’s sake: Paranormal Activity 3 grossed a much healthier $52.6 million (including $8 million from Thursday midnight screenings only, i.e., no late Thursday evening shows) at 3,321 theaters, while Paranormal Activity 2 scored $40.7 million (including $6.3 million from midnight screenings only) at 3,216 sites in 2010.

Absolute comparisons to the first movie in the series are impossible to make, but relatively speaking, the fourth entry in the series is also trailing the original Paranormal Activity, which debuted at only 12 venues in Oct. 2009, expanding to 760 locations on its fourth weekend out. That initial weekend in wide release, the horror movie brought in $19.61 million – or about two thirds of Paranormal Activity 4‘s box office take at about one fourth of its number of theaters – averaging an astonishing $25,813 per venue.

Alex Cross, Rob Cohen’s critically lambasted crime thriller starring Tyler Perry in the title role, took in $11.39 million – about $400,000 below Sunday estimates – at 2,539 North American venues this past weekend. It’s official: the $35 million-budgeted Alex Cross marks Tyler Perry’s worst opening weekend ever – quite a few notches below Perry’s previous low, Good Deeds’ $15.58 million last February.

Adjusted for inflation (to better reflect ticket sales), Alex Cross opened even lower than the Perry-directed Daddy’s Little Girls, which debuted with $11.2 million – or approximately $13 million in 2012 dollars – in February 2007. Bizarrely, as per several reports Alex Cross is already getting a sequel.

At (a disappointing) no. 1, Paranormal Activity 4 was followed by Argo, Liam Neeson’s thriller Taken 2 with $13.26 million (cume: $105.83 million), and Sony Pictures’ animated Hotel Transylvania with $13 million. The Summit Entertainment release Alex Cross was no. 5.

Paranormal Activity movies: Actual costs

Now, Paranormal Activity 4 cost a reported $5 million. Wow! So, $30.2 million over the weekend still represents six times its production budget. Isn’t that impressive?

Well, sure it is. But that feat looks considerably less impressive when you realize that distributor Paramount spends much more on marketing their Paranormal Activity movies than on making them. For instance, Paranormal Activity 2 cost a reported $3 million. But the studio reportedly spent $25 million marketing their Halloween flick. And remember, as a rule of thumb studios get only about 50 percent of their films’ North American gross.

Success at the international box office

The good news for Paranormal Activity 4 is that it raked in an estimated $26.5 million in 33 international markets in the last several days (opening dates vary from country to country). For comparison’s sake: In 42 territories, Paranormal Activity 3 opened with $26.1 million.

Although it will fail to reach the widely heralded $60 million worldwide by Sunday evening, $56.7 million isn’t bad at all, especially taking into account that low-budget Hollywood horror movie franchises usually aren’t that popular overseas.

Paranormal Activity 4 cast

Directed by Paranormal Activity 3‘s Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, this latest (and in all likelihood not last) entry in the horror series features Katie Featherston, Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively, Brady Allen, Alisha Boe, and Tommy Miranda.

‘Alex Cross’ box office: Tyler Perry has his worst debut ever

Alex Cross, Rob Cohen’s widely panned crime thriller starring Tyler Perry in the title role, scored a disappointing $11.75 million at 2,539 North American locations this weekend, according to studio estimates found at Boxofficemojo.com. That’s about $3–$4 million less than some had been predicting this past week.

If estimates hold, the Summit Entertainment-released Alex Cross had (or rather, is having) the worst opening weekend ever for a movie featuring Tyler Perry – quite a bit below the previous bottom-record holder Good Deeds’ $15.58 million last February. Adjusted for inflation (to better reflect ticket sales), Alex Cross opened even lower than the Perry-directed Daddy’s Little Girls, which debuted with $11.2 million – or approximately $13 million adjusted – at 2,111 venues in February 2007.

To date, only two Tyler Perry vehicles have opened below $20 million at the domestic box office: the aforementioned Good Deeds and The Family That Preys ($17.4 million, or approx. $19.4 million adjusted). Alex Cross, which has a 0 percent approval rating and a 3.5/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics, is the first to open below the $15 million mark.

‘New’ Tyler Perry fails to lure fans

Alex Cross’ failure is particularly notable for two reasons: it’s a radical artistic departure for Perry – a crime thriller universes away from his formulaic, religious-tinted comedies for Lionsgate – and it’s a much costlier production than the usual Tyler Perry movies: $35 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses.

It’ll be an uphill climb for Alex Cross to match its production costs at the box office; to recover them, it’ll be impossible (not taking into account ancillary revenues). And since Perry has no international following, Alex Cross has no chance of being rescued by the international market.

Alex Cross cast

Besides Tyler Perry, the Alex Cross cast includes Matthew Fox, Edward Burns, Giancarlo Esposito, Jean Reno, Rachel Nichols, and veteran Cicely Tyson. Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson were credited for the adaptation of James Patterson’s novel Cross.

Also worth noting is that Morgan Freeman played Dr. Alex Cross in two successful movies in North America: Kiss the Girls (1997), which grossed $60.52 million (approx. $106 million adjusted), and Along Came a Spider (2001), which took in $74.07 million (approx. $105 million adjusted).

Holy Motors Eva Mendes Leos Carax
Holy Motors with Eva Mendes.

‘Holy Motors’ box office: Acceptable opening at two locations

Made for a reported $5 million, Leos Carax’s widely acclaimed Holy Motors collected an estimated $19,500 at two North American locations, averaging an acceptable $9,750 per venue according to figures found at Box Office Mojo. Holy Motors’ North American cume currently stands at $28,200. Needless to say, Carax’s film has fared infinitely better in France, where it sold more than 120,000 tickets. (Image: Eva Mendes Holy Motors.)

The director’s first feature film since the controversial Pola X (1999), Holy Motors was one of two “Limo Movies” at this year’s Cannes Film Festival – the other being the David Cronenberg / Robert Pattinson effort Cosmopolis (which also fared much better in France than in North America). Ultimately, despite some enthusiastic critical response (there were pans as well), neither movie won any Official Competition awards.

Holy Motors has a 93 percent approval rating and 8/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics – making it one of the best-received films of 2012. The Holy Motors cast includes Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue, Elise Lhomeau, Jeanne Disson, veteran Michel Piccoli, and Carax himself.

Eva Mendes in Leos Carax Holy Motors photo: Indomnia.

Oct. 21 early a.m.

Tyler Perry Alex Cross box office: Worst opening ever for a movie featuring Perry?

Tyler Perry’s Alex Cross, directed by Rob Cohen and starring Perry in the title role, opened with an estimated $4.01 million at 2,539 North American locations on Friday, according to studio estimates. Barring a major Saturday and Sunday surge – not an usual occurrence for a Tyler Perry flick — Alex Cross will likely finish the weekend with approximately $12-13 million, or about $2-3 million less than some had been predicting this past week. (Image: Tyler Perry Alex Cross.)

If those figures hold, Alex Cross will mark the worst opening weekend ever for a movie featuring Tyler Perry – quite a bit below Good Deeds’ $15.58 million last February. Alex Cross will possibly open even lower than the Perry-directed Daddy’s Little Girls, which debuted with $11.2 million (approx. $13 million adjusted for inflation) at 2,111 theaters in February 2007.

To date, only two Tyler Perry vehicles have opened below $20 million at the domestic box office: the aforementioned Good Deeds and The Family That Preys ($17.38 million, or approx. $19.4 million adjusted). None has opened below the $15 million mark.

Alex Cross: A different Tyler Perry

Alex Cross’ all-but-inevitable failure is particularly notable not only because the film is a radical artistic departure for Perry – a crime thriller worlds away from his formulaic comedies – and it’s a much costlier production than the usual Perry fare: $35 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses.

I should add that Tyler Perry has no international following. If his movies don’t perform in the United States, there’s no chance of the international market coming to their rescue.

Oct. 19

Paranormal Activity 4 Kathryn Newton
Paranormal Activity 4 with Kathryn Newton.

‘Paranormal Activity 4’ box office: Behind two predecessors in North America

Paranormal Activity 4 is expected to trail its previous two predecessors in North America, if early box office estimates are accurate indicators of the low-budget horror flick’s popularity with American and Canadian moviegoers. Barring a late-Friday night surge, Paranormal Activity 4 is expected to gross around $15 million at 3,412 locations today – and that includes $4.5 million from Thursday 9 p.m. and midnight screenings. (Image: Kathryn Newton Paranormal Activity 4.)

For comparison’s sake: Paranormal Activity 3 collected $26.3 million at 3,321 theaters on its Friday debut in October 2011, including $8 million from midnight screenings only (i.e., no late Thursday shows). Paranormal Activity 2 raked in $20.1 million at 3,216 sites in Oct. 2010, including $6.3 million from midnight screenings only.

The above Paranormal Activity 4 Friday estimates are found in The Hollywood Reporter, which also predicts that the latest entry in the Paranormal Activity franchise will earn around $35 million over the weekend. For comparison’s sake: Paranormal Activity 3 grossed a much healthier $52.56 million, while Paranormal Activity 2 collected $40.67 million in 2010. Comparisons to the first movie in the series can’t be made, as Paranormal Activity opened in limited release (12 theaters) in Oct. 2009, expanding to 760 locations on its fourth weekend out. That weekend, the horror movie brought in $19.61 million, averaging an astounding $25,813 per site.

Paranormal Activity movies: production budget vs. marketing budget

Now, Paranormal Activity 4 cost a reported $5 million. Wow! So, even if it ends up grossing $35 million over the weekend – or about $17 million less than its predecessor – that still represents seven times its production budget. Isn’t that impressive?

Well, of course it is. Though it’s considerably less impressive when you realize that Paramount spends much more on marketing their Paranormal Activity movies than on making them. For instance, Paranormal Activity 2 cost a reported $3 million. But the studio spent a reported $25 million marketing their low-budget Halloween flick.

International hit

The real good news for Paranormal Activity 4 is that it may reach $60 million worldwide by Sunday evening. Halloween is basically an American holiday, but this particular horror movie franchise is apparently welcome elsewhere as well at this time of year.

According to the Reporter, Paranormal Activity 4 has already scored $4 million overseas and could well reach $25 million in 33 markets, thus outpacing its predecessor. Well, at least relatively speaking: In 42 markets, Paranormal Activity 3 opened with $26.1 million.

Ben Affleck Argo movieBen Affleck Argo movie.

Ben Affleck Argo movie weekend box office: Behind Taken 2 and Sinister?

Oct. 13 afternoon update: Ben Affleck’s Argo opened in third place on Friday, having grossed quite a bit less than (the lower end of) early estimates (see further below). Starring Bryan Cranston and Affleck, Argo took in $5.93 million at 3,232 sites, thus easily falling behind both Taken 2‘s $7 million 3,706 locations and Sinister‘s – surprising – $7.45 million at only 2,527 sites according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Now, bear in mind that Sinister‘s gross includes $1 million from late Thursday and midnight screenings. (Image: Ben Affleck Argo movie.)

So, which movie will lead the Oct. 12–14 weekend at the North American box office: Taken 2, Sinister, or Argo? On Friday, it seemed that Taken 2 would lead, with Argo right behind it. Now, it looks like Taken 2 will have an easy lead, collecting around $22 million by Sunday evening. Barring another Sinister upset, Argo will likely finish at no. 2, with approximately $18-19 million. If so, the critically acclaimed $44.5 million-budgeted Affleck thriller with political undertones (or overtones, take your pick) will be opening at the lower end of expectations.

Despite its stronger than expected Friday box office take, Sinister should finish the weekend in third place, a little behind Argo. Having said that, don’t be too shocked if Sinister manages to sneak into second place, especially if Summit Entertainment adds the film’s Thursday night grosses to its final weekend take.

Ben Affleck director opening-weekend box office: Argo movie vs. The Town

For comparison’s sake: Ben Affleck’s The Town opened with $23.8 million ($24.76 million adjusted for inflation as per Box Office Mojo) in September 2010. The crime thriller featuring Affleck and Jeremy Renner went on to gross $92.18 million ($92.99 million adjusted) in North America, plus a less impressive $61.83 million overseas.

Had early Friday estimates been correct, Argo would likely have finished its run with a box office cume as solid as that of The Town. If today’s estimates are accurate, barring lots of awards-season buzz, expect a considerably lower cume – both in North America and elsewhere – for Ben Affleck’s Argo movie.

Based on real-life events that took place during the Iran hostage crisis of the late ’70s, in addition to Bryan Cranston and Ben Affleck Argo features Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine), and John Goodman. Affleck is also one of the film’s producers, along with George Clooney and Grant Heslov. Taken 2 stars Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace, while Sinister features Ethan Hawke.

Ben Affleck Argo movie picture: Warner Bros.

Oct. 13 early a.m.

Argo Movie Ben AffleckArgo movie vs. Taken 2: Weekend domestic box office

Argo or Taken 2 at the top of the North American box office this weekend? Some had been predicting that newcomer Argo, Ben Affleck’s action drama based on real-life events set during the Iran hostage crisis of the late ’70s, would land at the no. 1 spot. Although that remains a possibility, chances are the Liam Neeson actioner Taken 2 will lead for the second weekend in a row. (Image: Argo movie Ben Affleck.)

At 3,706 locations, Taken 2 collected $7.5-8.5 million on Friday, according to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com. At 3,232 sites, the $44.5 million-budgeted Argo earned an estimated $7-8 million. Strong word of mouth could help Argo to surpass Taken 2 over the weekend proper – but as a rule, Saturday and Sunday belong to kiddie flicks and mass-appeal releases such as the brainless Taken 2. Either way, both movies are expected to end the weekend somewhere in the low $20 million range. That’s about what some box office pundits had been expecting for Argo. (At Box Office Mojo, for instance, Ray Subers predicted $22.9m.)

Ben Affleck director box office: Argo movie vs. The Town

For comparison’s sake: Ben Affleck’s The Town opened with $23.8 million ($24.76 million adjusted for inflation) in September 2010. The crime thriller featuring Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, and Rebecca Hall went on to gross $92.18 million ($92.99 million adjusted as per Box Office Mojo) in North America, in addition to (a considerably more modest) $61.83 million overseas. Barring lots of box-office-boosting Oscar buzz and nominations for Argo, expect similar (or a little more modest) figures – both domestic and internationally – for the latest Ben Affleck thriller.

In addition to Affleck, the Argo cast includes Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman. Affleck is also one of the film’s producers, along with George Clooney and Grant Heslov.

Argo movie Ben Affleck picture: Warner Bros.

Oct. 9

Taken 2 movie Liam Neeson

‘Taken 2’ movie doesn’t quite reach $50 million weekend, but overperforms all the same

Taken 2 scored slightly less than the “officially” estimated $50 million at 3,661 North American venues this past weekend. According to box office actuals found at Boxofficemojo.com, the Liam Neeson action vehicle grossed $49.51 million on its first three days out in the U.S. and Canada. Though less than 20th Century Fox estimated, that’s still about $10 million more than many prognosticators had expected. (Image: Liam Neeson Taken 2.)

In fact, Taken 2 is far ahead of Taken: the original brought in $24.71 million ($26.51 million adjusted) when it opened in late January 2009. In other words, Taken 2, even if inflation is taken into account, scored about twice as much as the first movie.

Taken 2 box office: Best opening since The Dark Knight Rises

As mentioned in my previous Taken 2 box office post (see further below), the film had the best opening at the domestic box office since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises in mid-July. It’s also worth noting that Taken 2 will surely join the original Taken, The Fifth Dimension, and the (gasp!) French-language The Intouchables, as one of the highest-grossing French-made movies at the international box office.

Taken 2, which added another $5.5 million on Monday in North America, cost a reported $45 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses. After four days, the Liam Neeson movie has grossed $55.01 million. Internationally, Taken 2 has collected an estimated $67 million.

Besides Liam Neeson, the Taken 2 cast includes Breaking Dawn – Part 2‘s Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen. Colombiana and Transporter 3‘s Olivier Megaton directed from a screenplay by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.

Liam Neeson Taken 2 movie photo: 20th Century Fox.

Oct. 7

Liam Neeson Taken 2Liam Neeson Taken 2: Box office in North America and Neeson’s career get a shot in the arm

Taken 2, the sequel to Liam Neeson’s sleeper 2008/2009 hit Taken, raked in a better-than-expected $50 million at 3,661 North American locations this weekend, Oct. 5-7, according to studio estimates. If that figure is indeed accurate, the Taken 2 box office take was about $4 million above what early Friday estimates indicated; it’s also the best opening at the U.S. and Canada box office since The Dark Knight Rises in mid-July. And it’s another (sad, pathetic) indication that, The Intouchables notwithstanding, French movies need to be made in English, with Hollywood stars and big guns, in order to become international hits. (Image: Liam Neeson Taken 2.)

Liam Neeson action star

Liam Neeson has been making movies since the late ’70s. Who would have guessed that about three decades after Excalibur and Krull Neeson, in his late 50s, would become an action star. True, he has proven himself a top box office draw only in the Taken movies. Neeson’s other action flicks – e.g., The Grey ($77.27 million worldwide), Unknown ($130.78 million worldwide) – have been moderate performers. Even so, they’re definitely highly profitable (especially once ancillary revenues are tallied) because of their relatively modest (below $50m) budgets.

Taken 2, for instance, cost a reported $45 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses. In North America alone the film grossed more than that figure on its first weekend out. Internationally, Taken 2 collected $67 million. That’s almost as much as the original Taken brought in during the course of its entire run overseas: $81.82 million. (The North American cume was an impressive $145 million.) In sum: Expect Taken 3, with or without Liam Neeson (who says he won’t be back), in the not-too-distant future.

Taken movies are audiences’ – not critics’ – favorites

If you offer audiences good movies, they’ll come to their local multiplex. Well, that’s how the saying goes. Reality seems to be something else altogether. Taken 2 has a downright rotten 28 percent approval rating and a 4.7/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics. For comparison’s sake: Taken has a 42 percent approval rating and 5.2/10 average.

Besides Liam Neeson, the Taken 2 cast includes Breaking Dawn – Part 2‘s busybody vampire Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, and D.B. Sweeney. Olivier Megaton, whose Colombiana and Transporter 3 were box office duds in North America, directed the Taken sequel. Screenplay by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.

Note: In case you’re wondering, Battleship and Wrath of the Titans weren’t exactly “Liam Neeson movies,” as the focus of those box office disappointments (in relation to their cost) was on, respectively, Taylor Kitsch and Sam Worthington.

Liam Neeson Taken 2 photo: 20th Century Fox.

Oct. 6

Taken 2 Liam NeesonTaken 2 box office: Liam Neeson is back

Taken 2, the sequel to Liam Neeson’s sleeper box office hit Taken, scored $17.5 million at 3,661 locations on Friday, according to early, rough box office estimates found at Deadline.com. Taken 2 may end up with an impressive $46 million over the weekend. In addition to Liam Neeson, the Taken 2 cast includes Maggie Grace (soon to be seen in Breaking Dawn – Part 2) and Famke Janssen. (Image: Taken 2 Liam Neeson.)

Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, however, is off to a disappointingly modest start. The animated feature is expected to land at no. 4 on the domestic box office chart, grossing around $13-$13.5 million by Sunday evening after collecting an estimated $3.5 million at 3,005 theaters on Friday.

Frankenweenie, featuring voices by the likes of Catherine O’Hara, Christopher Lee, Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, and Martin Short, would likely have performed much better had it been released in late August or early September, when there was next to no competition. Now, the Disney-released animated feature had to compete with Sony Pictures Animation’s quite successful Hotel Transylvania, which is expected to collect around $25 million over the weekend after taking in $6.2 million on Friday.

Sandwiched between Hotel Transylvania and Frankenweenie on Friday was Pitch Perfect. Directed by Jason Moore, and starring Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, and Brittany Snow, the girls vs. boys college comedy / musical grossed an estimated $4.3 million at 2,770 venues, and may reach $12.5 million over the weekend.

Rounding out the top five is the Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Bruce Willis action sci-fier Looper, with $3.4 million on Friday and about $11 million by Sunday evening. If these figures are accurate, that means Looper – a sleeper opening-weekend hit – suffered a steeper-than-expected drop on its second weekend out.

Taken 2 Liam Neeson photo: 20th Century Fox.

Looper 2012 Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Looper 2012 star Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the young Bruce Willis.

Looper 2012: Joseph Gordon-Levitt sci-fier tops North American box office

Oct. 4: Looper, the October 2012 sleeper hit starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, surpassed last weekend’s top movie, Hotel Transylvania, two days in a row this week: on Tuesday, Oct. 2 ($2.36 million vs. $2.19m) and Wed., Oct. 3 ($1.55 million vs. $1.54 million) according to figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

Though hardly a blockbuster, the Rian Johnson-directed $30 million-budgeted sci-fier has been performing quite well domestically. With $26.5 million after six days, Looper is clearly way ahead of the previous weekend’s releases: After 13 days out, Jake Gyllenhaal-Michael Peña’s End of Watch has collected $28.2 million, Clint Eastwood-Amy AdamsTrouble with the Curve $25.3 million, Jennifer Lawrence’s House at the End of the Street $23.4 million, and Karl Urban’s disastrous Dredd $11.8 million.

International box office

Looper‘s international prospects seemed iffy at first – no international box office draws, no 3D – but the film has performed surprisingly well in a few territories, particularly Russia ($5.08 million), the United Kingdom ($3.92 million), and Australia ($3.02m). In 12 markets listed on the Box Office Mojo chart, Looper has brought in around $14 million, in addition to approximately $3.5-$4 million in China as reported at Box Office Mojo – not “$23 to $25 million” initially announced due to a yuan-dollar mix-up.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Looper 2012 picture: Sony Pictures.

Sept. 30

Selena Gomez Mavis Hotel TransylvaniaHotel Transylvania weekend box office far surpasses expectations in North America

Hotel Transylvania will likely become Sony Pictures Animation’s most successful all-animated release ever – at least at the domestic box office. According to studio estimates, the 3D-surcharge-boosted Hotel Transylvania scored $43 million at 3,349 U.S. and Canada theaters this weekend, Sept. 28-30, averaging a solid $12,840 per site. Early estimates had the animated feature grossing around $30 million; that was later upped to a figure close to $40 million. (Image: Selena Gomez Mavis Hotel Transylvania.)

Hotel Transylvania‘s international figures were considerably more modest, as the $85 million-budgeted (not including marketing / distribution expenses), Genndy Tartakovsky-direted animated feature opened with $8.1 million in eight markets, including three major ones: Australia, France, and Germany.

Hotel Transylvania to become the most successful all-animated Sony Pictures Animation release?

If studio estimates are accurate, Hotel Transylvania easily surpassed the opening-weekend figure of Sony Pictures Animation’s previous all-animated domestic box office champ, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Three years ago, the Phil Lord and Chris Miller-directed, $100 million-budgeted animated film opened with $30.3 million (approx. $32.5 million today) at 3,119 North American venues. Featuring the voices of Andy Samberg, Anna Faris, James Caan, and Neil Patrick Harris, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs finished its run with $124.87 million domestically and $118.13 million internationally, for a grand total of $243 million.

Now, bear in mind that The Smurfs, Sony Pictures’ mix of live action and animation remains the studio’s highest-grossing production featuring animated characters. In summer 2011, The Smurfs raked in $142.61 million in North America (after opening with $35.61m) and $421.13 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $563.74 million.

Best September opening weekend ever in North America?

Hotel Transylvania now officially (or almost, as weekend box office actuals come out on Monday) boasts the biggest September opening ever at the North American box office, having easily surpassed Reese Witherspoon’s Sweet Home Alabama, which opened with $35.64 million back in 2002.

Reality check: 2002 was ten years ago. Sweet Home Alabama grossed the equivalent of about $49 million today – and without the advantage of 3D surcharges. In other words: Sweet Home Alabama sold many more tickets than Hotel Transylvania.

In terms of ticket sales, the September champ remains Brett Ratner’s action comedy Rush Hour. The Jackie Chan / Chris Tucker flick collected $33 million in 1998, or approximately $56.5 million in 2012 dollars.

Hotel Transylvania voice cast

The Hotel Transylvania voice cast features Selena Gomez as Mavis, Adam Sandler as Dracula, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, and David Spade. The screenplay is credited to Robert Smigel and Peter Baynham.

Selena Gomez Mavis Hotel Transylvania image: Sony Pictures Animation.

Looper movie: Joseph Gordon-Levitt sci-fier surpasses expectations

Looper, Rian Johnson’s time-bending action sci-fier starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, took in a better than expected $21.2 million at 2,292 locations in North America this weekend, averaging a good – though hardly outstanding – $7,086 per venue, and trailing only Hotel Transylvania‘s $43 million according to studio estimates. Both movies are Sony Pictures releases, and helped this weekend’s top twelve movies to collect about 21 percent more than the top twelve on the same weekend last year – the first “up” 2012 weekend in a month. (Image: The young Bruce Willis a.k.a. Joseph Gordon-Levitt Looper movie.)

Sharing plot points with Chris Marker’s La jetée and its US-made remake, Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys (which also features Bruce Willis), Looper has earned overwhelmingly positive reviews. The $30 million-budgeted sci-fier currently has a 95 percent approval rating and 8.3/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics.

Looper‘s international prospects are iffy, as neither Joseph Gordon-Levitt nor Bruce Willis are box office draws overseas (or in North America, for that matter). Also, the 3D element, almost invariably a positive selling point abroad, is missing. On the positive side, good word-of-mouth may keep Looper around long enough for the film to earn back its reported production costs at the domestic box office alone.

Also worth noting is that Looper is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s biggest “weekend opener” by far. True, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra had much more successful debuts, but none of them could be called a “Joseph Gordon-Levitt Movie.”

Looper movie cast

Besides Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, the Looper cast includes Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, and Jeff Daniels.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Looper movie photo: Sony Pictures.

Sept. 29

Hotel Transylvania weekend box office could reach $40 million in North America

Hotel Transylvania may turn out to be Sony Pictures Animation’s biggest all-animated box office hit ever. According to studio estimates, the $85 million-budgeted Hotel Transylvania – with the box-office-boosting assistance of 3D surcharges – took in $11 million at 3,349 North American sites on Friday, Sept. 28, and is expected to gross near $40 million by Sunday evening. (Adam Sandler’s Dracula, Selena Gomez character Mavis Hotel Transylvania image.)

If so, that’s about $10 million more than early Friday estimates indicated (see further below); it’s considerably more than the amount earned by the previous Sony Pictures Animation all-animated domestic box office champ, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; and it means that the terrible domestic box office drought may have come to a close. Hotel Transylvania could even end up boasting the most successful September opening ever at the domestic box office. (Or could it? More information below.)

Hotel Transylvania vs. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Smurfs

Three years ago, the Phil Lord and Chris Miller-directed, $100 million-budgeted Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs opened with $30.3 million (approx. $32.5 million today) at 3,119 U.S. and Canada locations. Featuring the voices of Andy Samberg, Anna Faris, James Caan, and Neil Patrick Harris, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs went on to gross $124.87 million domestically and $118.13 million internationally. Worldwide total: $243 million.

Now, Sony Pictures’ mix of live action and animation The Smurfs remains the studio’s most successful release featuring animated characters. In summer 2011, The Smurfs brought in $142.61 million in North America (after opening with $35.61m) and an astounding $421.13 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $563.74 million.

Chances are Hotel Transylvania will finish its worldwide run somewhere between Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Smurfs. At this stage, it’s hard to tell where exactly the latest Sony Pictures Animation movie will land – but considering that The Smurfs had international brand recognition, Hotel Transylvania‘s grand total will likely be closer to that of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Best September opening weekend ever in North America?

In case Hotel Transylvania does indeed debut with close to $40 million in the U.S. and Canada, the Sony Pictures Animation release will have the best September opening weekend ever at the North American box office. Well, that is, if you live on a planet where inflation doesn’t exist.

The current “official” September leader, the Reese Witherspoon movie Sweet Home Alabama, opened with $35.64 million in 2002. That’s ten years ago. And that amount represents approximately $49 million today.

Also, let’s not forget that Rush Hour‘s $33 million in 1998 represents about $56.5 million today. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker starred in Brett Ratner’s action comedy.

Hotel Transylvania voice cast

Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, the Hotel Transylvania voice cast includes Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs‘s Andy Samberg, Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, and David Spade. Screenplay by Robert Smigel and Peter Baynham.

Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez Mavis Hotel Transylvania image: Sony Pictures Animation.

Sept. 28

Hotel Transylvania to easily top North American weekend box office

Hotel Transylvania will easily top the North American box office this weekend, followed by the well-received Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Bruce Willis sci-fier Looper at a distant second.

According to early estimates found in The Hollywood Reporter, Sony Pictures Animation’s $85 million-budgeted Hotel Transylvania – with the assistance of 3D surcharges – is expected to gross north of $30 million at 3,349 sites. Whether that figure will be far enough north to surpass Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs remains to be seen.

Back in September 2009, the $100 million-budgeted Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs opened with $30.3 million (approx. $32.5 million today) at 3,119 locations. To date, that remains the best box office opening ever for a Sony Pictures Animation release. Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and featuring the voices of Andy Samberg, Anna Faris, James Caan, and Neil Patrick Harris, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs went on to gross $124.87 million in the U.S. and Canada and $118.13 million internationally. Grand total: $243 million.

Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, Hotel Transylvania‘s voice cast includes Cloudy‘s Andy Samberg, Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, and Fran Drescher.

Looper: Joseph Gordon-Levitt sci-fier expected to have good, but not outstanding debut

Directed by Rian Johnson, the time-bending Looper is expected to reach $18 million at 2,292 locations by Sunday evening. A sci-fier sharing elements with Chris Marker’s La jetée and Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys (which also features Bruce Willis doing some time traveling), Looper has received mostly positive reviews. The film currently has a 95 percent approval rating and 8.3/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics.

Good word-of-mouth may help to keep Looper long enough at North American theaters for the sci-fier to easily surpass – and perhaps recover? – its relatively modest $30 million budget (not including marketing / distribution) at the domestic box office alone. Also in the Looper cast: Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, and Jeff Daniels.

Considerably less successful is 20th Century Fox’s Won’t Back Down, toplining Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis. The $15 million-budgeted public-school drama is expected to gross around $5 million at 2,515 theaters over the weekend. Directed by Daniel Barnz, Won’t Back Down also features Oscar Isaac, Holly Hunter, and Rosie Perez.

Clint Eastwood Trouble with the Curve
Trouble with the Curve with Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood Trouble with the Curve: Disappointing debut

Sept. 22: Trouble with the Curve, The House at the End of the Street, End of Watch, and Dredd: four new releases, four box office disappointments as the end of summer/early fall blues at the North American box office continue unabated. Particularly disappointing was the box office reception of the Robert Lorenz-directed Clint Eastwood-Amy Adams-Justin Timberlake baseball flick Trouble with the Curve, which opened at no. 3 on Friday with an anemic $4.2 million at 3,212 locations according to studio estimates.

Early predictions had the 82-year-old Clint Eastwood’s latest and possibly last starring vehicle grossing around $18-$20 million by Sunday evening. With a whole lot of luck, Trouble with the Curve will reach $15 million, though $12–$13 million – i.e., at most a mediocre $4,300 or so per venue – seems much more likely at this stage.

If so, that’ll place Trouble with the Curve on a similar level to that of other major Clint Eastwood domestic box office underperformers in the last three decades, among them Blood Work (cume: $26.2 million; adjusted $36.2 million), True Crime (cume: $16.6 million; adjusted $26.2 million), A Perfect World (cume: $31.1 million; adjusted $60.2 million), The Rookie (cume: $21.6 million; adjusted $41 million), and Pink Cadillac (cume: $12.1 million; adjusted $24.5 million) – though still several notches above the disastrous Honkytonk Man (cume: $4.5 million; adjusted $12.2 million)

Trouble with the Curve affected by Clint Eastwood’s RNC anti-Obama speech?

So, does that mean Clint Eastwood’s embarrassing Empty Chair Chat at the Republican National Convention has hurt Trouble with the Curve‘s box office performance? Though Eastwood likely lost a number of admirers following his much ridiculed RNC appearance, it’s impossible to know for a fact how – or even if – Eastwood’s rambling conversation with an invisible Barack Obama affected his latest film, which has a so-so 60 percent approval rating and a 6/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics.

For comparison’s sake: Gran Torino, whose poster featured Clint Eastwood holding a rifle bigger than Alaska, boasted a 72 percent approval rating and 6.7/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics, and grossed an excellent $29.5 million at 2,808 locations ($10,500 per site) in January 2009 – after four weeks doing sensational business in limited release. Gran Torino went on to earn $148.1 million in North America and $121.9 million overseas for a worldwide grand total of $270 million. Trouble with the Curve will almost surely earn less on its opening weekend than Gran Torino earned on its seventh weekend out ($16.2 million, not adjusted for inflation).

Here’s another comparison: After six weekends in limited release, the previous Clint Eastwood movie (as an actor), Million Dollar Baby, took in $12.3 million at 2,010 locations. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $15.5 million today. Chiefly thanks to Oscar buzz (and an eventual Best Picture Oscar win), Million Dollar Baby went on to collect $100.5 million in North America and $116.3 million overseas for a worldwide total of $216.8 million (or around $265 million today).

Baseball movies box office: Trouble with the Curve vs. Moneyball

Trouble with the Curve will be lucky if it passes $40 million domestic and/or if it manages to gross as much overseas, where baseball movies are about as popular as Westerns. Last year’s much better-received and eventual Oscar contender Moneyball, for one, starring none other than global superstar Brad Pitt – a much bigger box office draw internationally than Clint Eastwood ever was – collected a meager $34.6 million abroad. Domestic grosses weren’t exactly stellar, either: $75.6 million, after Moneyball opened with $19.5 million in late September 2011.

Distributed by Warner Bros., Trouble with the Curve marks the first time Clint Eastwood has not directed himself since Wolfgang Petersen’s In the Line of Fire in 1993. Robert Lorenz has been an Eastwood collaborator since The Bridges of Madison County (1995), and has either produced or executive-produced all of Eastwood’s recent films.

Clint Eastwood Trouble with the Curve picture: Warner Bros.

Jennifer Lawrence House at the End of the Street movie
Jennifer Lawrence in House at the End of the Street.

House at the End of the Street tops Friday box office

Jennifer Lawrence’s Horror House drama House at the End of the Street, reportedly budgeted at close to $10 million, and the low-budget ($7 million) cop drama End of Watch, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, and Anna Kendrick, will be vying for the top spot at the struggling North American box office this weekend. Slightly ahead of the Clint Eastwood / Amy Adams baseball movie Trouble with the Curve, both new releases are expected to reach somewhere around $13-13.5 million by Sunday evening.

Directed by Mark Tonderai, House at the End of the Street opened at the lower end of expectations, topping the Friday domestic box office chart with a measly $4.6 million at 3,083 locations. At no. 2, End of Watch was only $40,000 behind, with $4.6 million at 2,730 sites. Directed by Training Day screenwriter David Ayer, End of Watch will likely end its run on a par with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua’s pricier ($17 million budget) Brooklyn’s Finest, which cumed at $27.16 million in North America (plus a disastrous $9.27 million overseas), after debuting with $13.35 million about two years ago.

The no. 3 movie on Friday was Clint Eastwood’s Trouble with the Curve, already discussed above. At no. 4, Finding Nemo 3D added a quite weak – especially considering 3D surcharges – $2.38 million, followed by new entry Dredd with a dismal $2.23 million on Friday and probably around $6-6.5 million for the weekend.

The Master Stumbles following expansion

Another underperformer, somewhat surprisingly so, was Paul Thomas Anderson’s widely acclaimed The Master, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Trouble with the Curve‘s Amy Adams. After a remarkable opening at five locations last weekend, The Master expanded to 788 sites, grossing a so-so $1.38 million at no. 7, or $1,759 per venue.

Those disappointing figures could potentially mean more modest plans for expanding the Weinstein Company release. Either way, The Master will likely get a late 2012 or early 2013 rerelease during the height of awards season, as the film is a strong contender in various categories, including Best Picture and Best Actor.

Compared to last year, which also had four new releases – Brad Pitt’s baseball drama Moneyball, the cute animal flick Dolphin Tale, Taylor Lautner’s Abduction, Jason Statham’s Killer Elite – in addition to strong holdover The Lion King 3D, business this weekend is expected to be down around 25 percent.

Jennifer Lawrence House at the End of the Street photo: Relativity Media.

Dredd 3D Karl UrbanDredd 3D box office: One of 2012’s major domestic bombs

Dredd 3D, the much-anticipated (in some quarters) action sci-fier, opened at no. 5 on the North American box office chart, with a dismal $2.23 million at 2,506 venues on Friday according to studio estimates. Directed by Peter Travis and starring Karl Urban in the title role, Dredd will probably bring in around $6-6.5 million for the weekend – despite 3D surcharges. (Image: Karl Urban Dredd 3D.)

That would be a downright abysmal opening – worse than the already dreadful $8 million to $10 million that pundits had predicted – for the much-talked about reboot of the Sylvester Stallone movie Judge Dredd, which debuted with a already-not-that-impressive $12.29 million ($22.6 million adjusted for inflation) back in 1995. A Lionsgate release in North America, the international co-production Dredd has a reported $45-50 million budget; the film’s only chance of recovering its production budget (of course, not factoring in pre-sales, etc.) is the international box office, where 3D action movies perform much more strongly than in North America.

Box-office hope for Dredd 3D?

The good news: Judge Dredd cumed at a weak $34.69 million (approx. $64 million adjusted) in North America, but went on to earn more than twice as much abroad. The bad news: Despite grossing $113.49 million worldwide, Judge Dredd was still flop, as it cost a reported $90 million. (Remember: as a rule of thumb distributors / producing companies get about 50-55 percent of the domestic gross; 40 percent of the international gross.)

The worse news: Dredd will likely cume at $15-18 million in North America, which means it’ll need to gross about six times as much internationally so as to break even at the worldwide box office – despite having cost much less than the Stallone original, especially if inflation is taken into account. To date, things don’t look all that promising: $4.4 million in the UK and $784k in Spain after ten days (Sept. 16). But we’ll see.

In addition to Star Trek‘s Karl Urban, Dredd features Olivia Thirlby, and Lena Headey.

Milla Jovovich Resident Evil: RetributionMilla Jovovich Resident Evil: Retribution, Pixar’s Finding Nemo 3D underperform at the domestic box office

Sept. 16 update: Starring Milla Jovovich, Resident Evil: Retribution topped the North American box office this weekend (Sept. 14–16), taking in $21.1 million (including $665,000 from Thursday midnight screenings) at 3,012 locations according to studio estimates. That’s about $2 million less than early Friday estimates indicated (see further below), and $5-6 million less than box office pundits had been expecting. (Image: Milla Jovovich Resident Evil: Retribution.)

Resident Evil: Retribution‘s domestic box office gross was also by far the weakest among all Resident Evil movies. Oh, but the original Resident Evil made only $17.7 million when it came out. Well, yes, but that was a decade ago. Adjusted for ticket-price increases, the first Resident Evil flick earned about $24.5 million in 2012 dollars. It’s ludicrous to compare box office grosses of movies made years apart without taking inflation into consideration. And never mind the fact that unlike Resident Evil: Retribution, the original Resident Evil didn’t have the benefit of 3D surcharges.

Besides gun-toting star Milla Jovovich, Resident Evil: Retribution also features Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Li Bingbing, Johann Urb, Shawn Roberts, Oded Fehr, Kevin Durand, Colin Salmon, Mika Nakashima, and Aryana Engineer. Paul W.S. Anderson directed. The production budget of the latest Resident Evil sequel has been pegged at $65 million.

Finding Nemo 3D disappoints

Another 3D release that underperformed was Disney / Pixar’s Finding Nemo 3D, which raked in an estimated $17.5 million at 2,904 venues. On Friday, it was expected that Finding Nemo could have reached as high as $25m+ while early predictions had the animated movie grossing well north of $20 million.

To date, Finding Nemo has grossed $357.21 million at the domestic box office. Overseas, the 3D rerelease added $5 million – the studio’s reported expense on the 3D conversion. That amount, of course, doesn’t include marketing / distribution costs.

Directed by Andrew Stanton (now of John Carter infamy) and Toy Story 3‘s Lee Unkrich, Finding Nemo features the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Barry Humphries, Allison Janney, Eric Bana, Elizabeth Perkins, and Geoffrey Rush.

Domestic box office malaise continues

If studio estimates are accurate, they’re great when compared to last weekend’s dismal openings: Bradley Cooper / Zoe Saldana’s The Words with $4.75 million and Henry Cavill / Bruce Willis’ The Cool Light of Day with $1.83 million. But they’re highly disappointing when compared to Resident Evil: Afterlife, which debuted with $26.65 million in September 2010, or Beauty and the Beast 3D, which was had its 3D debut last January, collecting $17.75 million at 2,625 locations – or about 300 fewer sites than Finding Nemo 3D.

Beauty and the Beast 3D went on to gross a modest $47.61 million in North America and a highly disappointing $14.41 million overseas. Reportedly budgeted at $60m, Resident Evil: Afterlife brought in a weak $60.12 million domestically but a sensational $236.09 million overseas, where 3D action / disaster movies have been all the rage since James Cameron’s Avatar. Resident Evil: Retribution was, in fact, made with international audiences in mind.

Much like their North American counterparts (five of the top ten movies on the 2012 domestic box office chart are movie sequels or reboots), international moviegoers crave high-quality, original entertainment. Such as Resident Evil: Retribution, which grossed a whopping $50 million on its first weekend in 50 markets.

Milla Jovovich Resident Evil: Retribution photo: Rafy / Screen Gems / Sony Pictures.

Sept. 15 p.m.

Joaquin Phoenix The Master Madisen Beaty‘The Master.’

The Master to break live-action weekend box office record?

Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, the “Scientology movie” inspired by the life of L. Ron Hubbard, and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams, opened with an estimated $242,000 at five theaters (three in New York, two in Los Angeles) according to studio estimates. (The Hollywood Reporter provides a more exact figure, $242,127, which certainly seems like the film’s actual Friday box office take.) That’s reportedly a record-breaking single-day figure for a live-action movie in “platform release” – in terms of per-theater average: $48,425. (More on that below. Photo: The Master Joaquin Phoenix, Madisen Beaty.)

Thanks to its excellent Friday opening, the Weinstein Company-distributed The Master is also expected to break the per-theater average opening-weekend box office record of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, which debuted last spring. At four theaters, Anderson’s acclaimed Cannes Film Festival entry averaged $43,082 per site on Friday and $130,749 on its first weekend out. The Master could reach up to $140-150k.

So, will The Master boast the most successful domestic opening weekend ever for a live-action film (in terms of per-theater averages)? Well, if you ignore Kevin Smith’s Red State, which took in $204,230 at one location last year and if you live on a planet where inflation doesn’t exist, the answer is: Quite likely, yes. But as long as you live on Planet Earth, where inflation is a reality, even if you choose to ignore Red State‘s “one-theater average” the answer is: Probably not.

Box office: The Master vs. Dreamgirls, Evita, Edward Scissorhands

Adjusted to 2012 dollars, the per-theater average of Bill Condon’s 2006 musical Dreamgirls would be approximately $155,000 at three sites. (Note: Dreamgirls had the advantage of $25 tickets for reserved seats.) For its part, Alan Parker / Madonna’s Evita raked in an adjusted $177,000 in 1996 at two locations. Also potentially ahead of The Master would be Tim Burton / Johnny Depp’s Edward Scissorhands, with $151,000 at two sites.

Now, bear in mind that we’re comparing apples and pineapples here. As I’ve explained in a post about Moonrise Kingdom‘s box office performance, when comparing platform releases, the addition or exclusion of one single theater not only can but does dramatically affect per-theater averages. When you’re talking about four theaters, if you add a fifth, that represents a 25 percent increase in venues. Minus one would be a 25 percent decrease. Remember: all things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters, the higher the per-theater average should be.

The Master photo, Joaquin Phoenix, Madisen Beaty (not Amy Adams, as previously stated): The Weinstein Company.

Sept. 15 early a.m.

Milla Jovovich Resident Evil: RetributionResident Evil: Retribution, Finding Nemo top modest end-of-summer weekend

Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil: Retribution, starring Milla Jovovich, is expected to top the North American box office on Friday, grossing somewhere around $9 million (including $665,000 from Thursday midnight screenings) at 3,012 locations according to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com. Resident Evil: Retribution‘s weekend gross is expected to hover around $23 million. (Image: Milla Jovovich Resident Evil: Retribution.)

The Disney / Pixar rerelease Finding Nemo, now in 3D (which means a surcharge), took in an estimated $5.3 million (down from an earlier $6 million estimate) at 2,904 locations on Friday. Initially, it was expected that with $25 million by Sunday evening Finding Nemo would top the North American weekend box office chart. Deadline, however, has lowered the film’s expected gross by $7 million – down to $18 million or whereabouts.

Domestic box office doldrums not quite over?

How good are those figures? If accurate, they’re excellent when compared to last weekend’s dismal openings: Bradley Cooper / Zoe Saldana’s The Words ($4.75m) and Henry Cavill / Bruce Willis’ The Cool Light of Day ($1.83m). They’re at best acceptable when compared to, say, Resident Evil: Afterlife, which opened with $26.65 million two years ago, or Beauty and the Beast 3D, which was rereleased (or rather, had its 3D debut) last January, collecting $17.75 million.

Beauty and the Beast 3D went on to gross a modest $47.6 million in North America and a highly disappointing $14.4 million overseas. Reportedly budgeted at $60 million, Resident Evil: Afterlife brought in $60.1 million domestically and an astounding $236.1 million overseas, where 3D action/disaster movies have been all the rage since Avatar. That’s likely where Resident Evil: Retribution will earn most of its cash.

The Possession movie

Labor Day weekend box office verdict: Scary

Sept. 3 update: Labor Day is generally a slow holiday at the North American box office. Why? Good question. Perhaps that’s merely a Hollywood tradition – as the tail end of the movie summer season, Labor Day weekend has usually been a dumping ground for B (horror) movies and A movies gone awry, so why attempt something different? Or perhaps there’s indeed some natural (or otherworldly) phenomenon that prevents Americans and Canadians from going to movie theaters in late August/early September.

So, why was this particular Labor Day weekend scary? Well, the no. 1 movie at the domestic box office was/is The Possession, a horror movie purportedly based on a true story about demons frightening humans. (Now, considering how devilishly vicious human beings can be, it’s time for someone to make a movie about humans frightening demons.)

The Possession box office: Second best Labor Day weekend ever?

Providing Lionsgate with its third-in-a-row first slot, The Possession raked in a better-than-expected $21.3 million over the four-day weekend (Aug 31-Sept. 3) according to studio estimates found at boxofficemojo.com. Not adjusted for inflation,the horror flick had / is having the second-best Labor Day weekend ever, trailing only Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake, which grossed $30.59 million in 2007. In the real world – where The Inflation Demon actually exists – The Possession is no. 5 on the Box Office Mojo chart, behind the aforementioned Halloween, Transporter 2, Jeepers Creepers 2, and Jeepers Creepers.

The Possession cast

Co-produced by Spider-Man‘s Sam Raimi, The Possession cost a reported $14 million, not including marketing and distribution expenses. The cast includes Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Natasha Calis, Kyra Sedgwick, Jay Brazeau, Madison Davenport, Matisyahu, Grant Show, and Rob LaBelle. Ole Bornedal (Nightwatch, Deliver Us from Evil) directed.

Labor Day weekend box office runners-up

In case you’re wondering, Lionsgate previous box office winner was The Expendables 2, featuring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and The Hunger GamesLiam Hemsworth. This weekend, the Stallone actioner was no. 3, with $11.2 million, trailing John Hillcoat’s period bootlegging drama Lawless’ $13 million. Distributed by The Weinstein Company, which acquired the movie at the Cannes Film Festival, Lawless features Transformers movies’ Shia LaBeouf and The Dark Knight RisesTom Hardy, in addition to Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, and Guy Pearce.

The Possession image: Lionsgate.

Sept. 2

The Avengers Robert Downey Jr Iron Man Chris Evans Captain AmericaThe Avengers box office: Movie rerelease is a major disappointment

The Avengers is by far the biggest domestic and worldwide box office hit of 2012. To date, the Disney / Marvel actioner has grossed an astounding (estimated) $619.54 million in North America, plus (also estimated) $882.3 million overseas for a grand total of $1.501 billion. However, this weekend’s expansion to 1,705 North American locations was, to put it mildly, a major disappointment. At no. 14 on the U.S. and Canada box office chart, The Avengers took in $1.69 million, averaging an embarrassing $994 per theater according to figures found at boxofficemojo.com. (Image: Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America The Avengers.)

On the positive side, Disney clearly wanted their Marvel blockbuster to pass the $1.5 billion milestone worldwide. That they have achieved. The Avengers comes out on DVD/Blu-ray in North America on Sept. 25.

Avatar is another disappointing 3D rerelease

The Avengers’ dismal rerelease performance, I should add, is nothing new. Two years ago, 20th Century Fox rereleased in late summer another recent 3D blockbuster, James Cameron’s Avatar. Earlier that year, Cameron’s sci-fier had become a cultural and financial phenomenon, officially (not adjusted for inflation and currency exchange rates) surpassing Cameron’s own Titanic as the biggest worldwide blockbuster ever. The North American rerelease, however, added a paltry $10.7 million to the film’s domestic box office take.

The Avengers movie cast

Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers stars Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner. The Avengers is currently the third movie on the all-time worldwide box office chart (once again, not adjusted for inflation and currency exchange rates), behind Avatar ($2.78 billion), which stars Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, and Zoe Saldana, and Titanic ($2.18 billion), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, and veteran Gloria Stuart (The Invisible Man, The Old Dark House).


Milla Jovovich Resident Evil: Retribution movie image: Rafy | Screen Gems | Sony Pictures.

Karl Urban Dredd 3D movie image: Lionsgate Pictures.

Hotel Transylvania image: Sony Pictures Animation.

Tyler Perry Alex Cross movie image: Summit Entertainment.

Kathryn Newton Paranormal Activity 4 image: Paramount Pictures.

Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans The Avengers movie image: Zade Rosenthal | Walt Disney Studios.

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26 comments

MarkPickworth -

@Chase Star Wars was not made in the 60’s.Lucas began writing it in 1973,and it was released in 1977.

Reply
gary jefferies -

Milla has an honest approach to these action movies, just like some of her male counterparts, lots of action and not too much conversation [i.e. Stallone, Schwarzneger, Willis and so on]. She does, in my opinion, an outstanding job of fulfilling the role as an action femme fatale. Obviously she is muscular and up to the tasks they ask her to accomplish. I know of no other femme in the movie business who could do what she does. Great job! Please keep up the fine work Milla!

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Rb Redmond -

I don’t care. I still like Milla. She kids butt, and then some!!!

Reply
MITCH MOOR -

RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION IS THE BEST RESIDENT EVIL MOVIE UP TO DATE. I CANT WAIT FOR RESIDENT EVIL 6 STARRING HOT Milla Jovovich BACK AS ALICE A SIXTH AND A FINAL TIME.

Reply
BewilderingBeing -

RE5 was not the worst of the series but I really think Paul Anderson has done a great dis-service to the franchise. Never has a Director dominated a series like Anderson has. It desperately needed fresh ideas and a new perspective but we were stuck with the same director a great majority of the time. RE Extinction was one of the only films not directed by Anderson and in my opinion was one of the best. It was gritty, dark and less bubble-gummy.

Reply
Chase -

lol the funny thing is alot of people talk about hollywood being original or what not. The fact that Hollywood was original in the past actually slightly Coincidental. Since the Days of D.W. Griffith (Birth of a Nation), and from classic hollywood,, and through the Hollywood Renaissance, and up till now…The American Movie Industry has always been about making money, and money comes before everything in the movie business. Alot of International Film Industries are more about artistic film, and therefore have ultimately continue to produce more original films. The 70’s was actually the most artistic period in the history of American Cinema, and one of the worst….cause the 70’s brought you movies such as Easy Rider and Bonnie and Clyde (Which came out in the late 60’s but, is important for understanding the 70’s cause these films among other helped to kickstart the New Wave of American Cinama, Where we start to get things like The Godfather, and Apocalypse Now and so many other films, which also owe there influence to international film…and also Vietnam to an extent. But, don’t get me wrong alot of International Movements throughout the world were heavily influenced By Classic Hollywood Films, and D.W. Griffith’s Editing Techniques. But, Ultimately a movie named Star Wars was made in the sixties which slowly brought about the demise of the Hollywood Renaissance and the American New Wave, and with Lucas introducing the super blockbuster, merchandising become a much more prevalent, which cause corporations to realise there is money to be made in the film industry. and so a new era of greed in hollywood was born which leads us to the unoriginal movies of today which are remakes, rereleases, movies based off of comics, and games and anime and video games and so forth.

Reply
Dean -

No one is sick of Nemo, Tia. It’s one of Pixar’s most popular films. That’s why they’re making a sequel.

Reply
MITCH MOOR -

NOW THIS IS ONE OF MANY THINGS PEOPLE CAN AND PROBABLY WILL DISAGREE WITH ME ANOUT AND ARGUE BACK WITH ME ABOUT BUT AS FOR ME AT LEAST I THOUGHT THAT Resident Evil: Retribution WAS THE BEST RESIDENT EVIL MOVIE AS OF YET. RIGHT NOW I JUST HOPE THAT Milla Jovovich RETURNS AS ALICE A SIXTH AND A FINAL TIME IN A SEQUEL TO Resident Evil: Retribution. AND I JUST HOPE THAT Sienna Guillory RETURNS AS JILL VALENTINE A FOURTH AND A FINAL TIME IN A SEQUEL TO Resident Evil: Retribution.

Reply
NatalieEGH -

As Stephen said, many like me do not like the 3D format. I even bought a 3D capable television and computer system before I discovered what the 3D was like. To me it feels like I am watching multiple shots (usually 3) layered over each other sort of like a children’s pop up book. It does not look the same as a 3D object when I look at something in real life. Maybe it is my age but modern, and I assume the most technologically advanced, 3D movies (and I have about a dozen), just give me very bad headaches quickly.

Every few years I might try another but until I can view the movies with getting a headache, I will continue to avoid that format except for brief tests.

Reply
Kevin Tam -

Not sure what LouAnne is talking about — my theater offered 2D as well as 3D (I opted for the Saturday matinee in 3D anyways, because it was just a dollar more!). I really appreciated the movie, and I wish it did better. It’s not just an action movie — it’s an action morality film with a tight plot and compelling characters.

Reply
Marcy -

So— the answer is obvious. Find roles for Liam that he stars in and is not a supporting role. The Grey was good but it could not appeal to a wide audience because of the R-rating with language and violence. Keep the movies PG-13 and women of all ages and men will be drawn to the theaters. Add some sensitivity into the role along with the tough guy and you will have blockbusters. Liam doesn’t need a lot of FX. Audiences love him in good story. He can hold his own if given the chance.

Reply
Steven -

Of course movie adaptions of video games are never going to be faithful … they aren’t video games for a start. Christ, it is like moaning that strwaberry chocolate bars don’t have the same feel as strawberry icecream, both of which also don’t feel like actual strwaberries.

As for trying to calculate revenue between movies made so far apart, I agree economy changes make it difficult. Add the fact that many (including myself) would rather not watch a movie if it is in 3D, but would opt for the non-3D. Now one could take into consideration the extra cost of viewing a 3D movie, but one must also then take into account the number of showings and how many people opt out of watching movies in 3D when there is no 2D showings.

Again, box office takings are one dynamic of the success of a movie. Movies are typically watched and re-watched through hundreds of TV channels for decades after a cinema release and as a result can influence movie sequels, but that is a little more convoulted to digest and so doesn’t get considered by the press, who use box office stats for their own purposes … which is not the same purpose as to why we choose to watch a movie ourselves, so go figure that opinions on the success of a movie differ.

In my opnion, there are so many movies I haven’t seen, that some of those must be great movies and I couldn’t care less if box office stats resulted in a decline in good movies coming out … there is enough good stuff I have yet to see, that I will likely be dead before I even get to see all of those.

So, if you are saddened by a movie not being like the video game … go play the video game. Otherwise, you are only letting yourselves down with unrealistic expectations. Expectations can be your own worst enemy, so don’t let it make you feel that you have wasted your money. Instead, focus on the positive … merchandising of such movies makes more money than the box office takings, to often justify making more of these movies. Just please consider that there are people like myself that would be part of the box office stats, if they are available in 2D.

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meiner -

Hotel Transylvania .. film critics are obviously not the target audience of this movie and definitely too old for a review of a children’s film

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Richard -

I knew L. Ron Hubbard and worked for him every day for 10 weeks in 1968. There is no comparason between the movie character and him. This movie appears to be a hit piece on Scientology that pretends not to be.
Listen to any recorded lecture of L. Ron Hubbard to determine his tone, character and intentions.

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BPP -

Its an awesome film. Smart, stunning visuals and bone crunching violence. Reminded me of LA Horde or The Thing. Killed by its rating probably, despite the superhero movies being full of violence and dodgy politics. Dredd is an ethical film. Guess people want ‘buddies’ not Dirty Harry from their films.. An amazing movie from Oscar winning talent… Go see it.

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LouAnne -

And who the H@!!’s Karl Urban to demand i not have a 2d option!

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LouAnne -

Thats what they get, for their “YOU’LL SEE IT IN 3D OR YOU WONT SEE IT”! Im glad NO 1 SAW IT!

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Kevin W. Clark -

Resident evil franchise was never good. It was all crap and the fact that they gave Milla super powers just to rival one of the matrix movies that was out at the time shows how much devotion to the actual original game series they had in mind. But that is expected with Hollywood always jeopardizing integrity for cheap thrills and fast money. If they have had one person who had played the games on their crew they would have been saying WTF is this.

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Lewis -

Ofmcourse Resi didn’t make too much! It hasn’t been released worldwide yet! And you can’t call a movie a flop after just one week of release either. Just wait till Resident Evil is released worldwide, then the Numbers will soar.

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Vishnu Roy -

Resident Evil movie is very very nise movie and Resident Evil movie all part is my best movie, I’am comic soon for movie.

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Tia -

Of course “Nemo” tanked. People were sick of that mess 6 years ago. It’s not timeless in the way that the older Disney films are.
Guess now Hollywood has to be original for a change!

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Steve -

Now I believe this site always has something against The Avengers. 1.69m for a movie in the 18th weekend is solid. And Labor Day is always a quiet weekend. Excluding this site, I don’t think there are many sites claiming that The Avengers re-release is a disappointment.

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Scarilian -

Its a shame, i would have loved to watch it but i live in the Uk and they did not choose to re-release it near me

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annegc1 -

A mere $22.43 for The American? For a $20-million budget film, with a marketing campaign not huge at all, is far from a “mere” result, so far…

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rockart -

It’s on par to make $16 this holiday weekend. Another Fox flop. There will be no sequels.

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Rose Peters -

We (three seniors) go to the movies every week and all three of us discovered (after the fact) that we should have left within 20 minutes or less of viewing it. The only thing going for it was the fact that it captured your curiosity in discovering what the target was (which after total frustration throughout the movie) you never did find out - what was going to be published in the “Tribune” the next day. Maybe this was the intent, but I am totally disappointed with the main actor (name not to be mentioned) with the demeaning of sex, America and humanity. Yes, we should have left at the beginning, but I’ll give the makers credit they did “catch your curiosity”. I hope this isn’t leading up to a sequel, because if it is I’ll be sure not to see it. Poor “main actor” he must be very desperate for funds to have resorted to being in this film! Thank you for your time.

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