Chances are, you weren’t at the movies this weekend. Not a single film at the box office reached $10 million. Call it the curse of The Oogieloves.
The Top 12 films grossed a depressingly low $51.9 million – the worst Top 12 total since Sept. 5-7, 2008, when Nicolas Cage flop Bangkok Dangerous led the chart with $7.7 million and the Top 12 films earned $50.3 million.
Even more distressingly, this weekend marked the lowest cumulative ticket sales in over a decade. The last frame to notch worse overall ticket sales was Sept. 21-23, 2001 – two weekends after the 9/11 attacks – when only one new wide release entered theaters: Mariah Carey’s infamous bomb Glitter. (Keep in mind, as final weekend results come in on Monday, things could change. Stay tuned.)
Lionsgate’s $14 million horror entry The Possession once again topped the chart with $9.5 million. The film, which earned a “B” CinemaScore grade last week, enjoyed a better than expected hold (it dropped 46 percent) – especially since its debut results were inflated by it bowing on a holiday weekend. After ten days, The Possession has earned $33.3 million, and by the end of its run, it may possess close to $50 million total.
If you’re not a fan of demonic tales like The Possession, prepare yourself to keep seeing them for a long while at the box office. The “Based on a True Story” conceit, which was effectively used in marketing for The Possession (and similar titles like The Devil Inside), still hasn’t worn out its welcome with American audiences, and horror tales are so cheap to make that they don’t need gargantuan grosses to provide solid financial returns for their studios.
In second place, The Weinstein Company’s moonshine-drenched crime drama Lawless dropped 40 percent and took in an additional $6 million in its second weekend. The period piece, which stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jessica Chastain, has garnered $23.5 million after 12 days. Weinstein has yet to confirm a budget for the film.
CBS Films’ The Words, the generically titled writing drama that’s garnered attention for being the meeting place of the are-they-or-aren’t-they? couple Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana, started its run in third place with just $5 million from 2,801 theaters. Even by CBS Films standards, that is very low.
The fledgling studio, which began releasing films in 2010, only has one real hit to its name: The Woman in Black, which grossed $54.3 million earlier this year. Every other one of their releases – their repertoire includes titles like Extraordinary Measures ($12.1 million total), Beastly ($27.9 million), and The Back-Up Plan ($37.5 million) – has been a relative misfire. But The Words’ $5 million bow is the lowest ever for a wide release from the studio, as is its cold $1,767 per theater average.
Fortunately, the film wasn’t expensive. The drama was shot for $6 million, and after a run at Sundance, CBS Films picked it up for $2 million. Audiences, which were 58 percent female and 78 percent above the age of 25, issued the title a “B” CinemaScore grade.
For People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive Bradley Cooper, who has found huge success in The Hangover films as well as last year’s thriller Limitless, The Words marks his second straight box office stinker following last month’s critically panned comedy Hit and Run, which opened to just $4.7 million. Unfortunately for Cooper, one of his new movies that premiered at Toronto, The Place Beyond the Pines, wasn’t exactly well received by EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum. (On the other hand, his other film at the festival, director David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, appears to be winning some considerable early praise.)
Two holdovers rounded out the Top 5. In fourth, Lionsgate’s The Expendables 2 dipped 47 percent to $4.7 million, giving the action flick $75.4 million after four weekends. In fifth, Universal’s The Bourne Legacy dropped 44 percent to $4 million, lifting the film’s total past the $100 million mark to $103.7 million. At this point, it’s clear that the $125 million sequel/reboot won’t be able to match the total of the original Bourne Identity, which found $121 million in 2002.
1. The Possession – $9.5 million
2. Lawless – $6.0 million
3. The Words – $5.0 million
4. The Expendables 2 – $4.7 million
5. The Bourne Legacy – $4.0 million
Elsewhere on the chart Summit’s new wide release The Cold Light of Day opened in 13th place with a truly dismal $1.8 million from 1,511 theaters. The $25 million film, which Summit co-financed with Intrepid Pictures, has been on the shelf for a while, but the studio had to dump it somewhere – and they chose a weekend when its failure would not likely draw much attention. Audiences issued the thriller a “D+” CinemaScore grade. Here’s hoping the film’s star, Henry Cavill, fares better as Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel.
The Cold Light of Day finished just a bit ahead of Paramount’s one-week-only re-release Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark: The IMAX Experience, which whipped up $1.7 million from 267 IMAX theaters – good for a $6,461 location average.
In limited release, Weinstein’s much buzzed-about comedy Bachelorette, which stars Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher as naughty party girls, fizzled with only $191,000 from 47 theaters – enough for a per theater average of $4,064. That figure doesn’t merit major expansions in the weeks to come. Bachelorette’s under-performance is somewhat surprising given its strong VOD performance in August.
And finally, in milestone news, after a $3.3 million weekend, conservative documentary 2016: Obama’s America became the second highest grossing political documentary of all time. The film, which has taken in $26.1 million so far, still trails Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119.2 million) by a huge margin, but it passed both An Inconvenient Truth ($24.1 million) and Sicko ($24.5 million) this weekend. Its total is remarkable for a documentary.
Next week, Sony will put Resident Evil: Retribution into about 2,850 theaters, while Disney will re-release Finding Nemo (in 3-D) into 2,950 locations. Stay tuned to EW all weekend for full coverage on those films, and follow me on Twitter for extra box office analysis.