Despite a recent lull in box-office activity, the last two weeks feel distinctly like summer sessions, with “Taken 2” pulling in blockbuster numbers at the top spot. Though critical reception was harsh, the picture seems as if it will lose only slightly more than half its audience in its second frame, when most figured it would lose a significant percentage from that opening weekend.
Even with the expectations from the mega-grossing first film in the series, “Taken 2” was not an expensive affair -- critics could even suggest the Istanbul-set sequel seems cheaper. Given the desire for déjà vu most were expecting from fans of the first film, a nine figure final gross seemed like an acceptable result from this picture. But few expected it would hit that mark within three weeks, and it looks as if it will pass $100 million by the end of next Sunday. With competition from five new releases this week, and “Paranormal Activity 4” arriving next weekend, that’s more than impressive.
Some might register disappointment with the heavily-promoted “Argo,” which opened below the numbers of Ben Affleck’s second directorial effort “The Town.” Still, that film had a clear premise and simple title, whereas the puzzlingly-named “Argo” pivots on a convoluted historical tale rooted in two commercially questionable genres, that being Inside Hollywood films, and stories taking place in the Middle East. But “Argo” has been recognized by critics as a crowd-pleaser, and it’s Cinemascore was a sparkling A+. Playing to older audiences who don’t rush out on that first weekend, “Argo” could very well hold strong in week two.
Surprising prognosticators, cheap horror film “Sinister” fed a horror audience that hadn’t been served since August’s “The Possession.” Like many horror pictures, the film benefited strongly from an evocative ad campaign and a simple, concise title that conveyed the menace of the picture while keeping the story sufficiently vague. A solid first weekend was essential with “Paranormal Activity 4” premiering next week, but few expected this sort of showing. A win for all, as they say.
There’s very little separating “Argo,” “Sinister” and “Hotel Transylvania,” and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some re-jiggering when the final numbers are released. Most horror pictures are top-heavy, which suggests “Sinister” takes a fall, and “Argo” registered stronger-than-expected day grosses, which hints that it may experience a last-minute Sunday surge. But then there’s “Hotel Transylvania,” which crossed $100 million after three weekends, and may produce the lowest drop of any film in the top five. Though 'Transylvania' may be recognized more as beating back similarly scare-powered kids' flicks in “Frankenweenie” and “Paranorman.”
MMA remains without its “Rocky.” “Here Comes The Boom” continues Kevin James’ downward trend after “Zookeeper” quietly opened to slightly over $20 million last year, and it may be due to James hitching his wagon to the niche sport. Baseball, basketball and football can lure non-fans to the theater, but mixed martial arts is one of the few massively-popular competitive sports that’s a heavy turn-off to those who don't watch it. And the idea of a popular comedian half-naked getting pummeled lacked appeal to men allergic to the sport and women with any type of quality control.
“Pitch Perfect” continues to hold strongly, even as it slowly expands. It probably won’t get into 3000 theaters, but at 2787, it won’t need to, as it’s already headed to solid profitability. It managed to climb above “Frankenweenie,” which is otherwise tanking hard on its way to DVD. “Looper” crosses $50 million with ease, likely on its way to complimenting a successful international run, though expect at least one more weekend in the top ten.
Debuting quietly was “Seven Psychopaths,” another picture CBS Films failed to launch to any fanfare. Though the film was launched with a busy ad campaign to complement the release on slightly less than 1500 theaters, interest was muted. Further expansion is possible, but the marketplace is already quite crowded. "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower" continues to perform strongly in only 726 theaters, while cruising in just out of the top ten was “Atlas Shrugged: Part 2,” the follow-up to the poorly received “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1,” willed into existence despite the rejection of the open market so cherished by Ayn Rand. This thousand-theater release likely spells the end of a planned trilogy, a pity considering the trailers for these films are AWESOME.
1. Tekken Two (Fox) - $22.5 million ($86.7 mil.)
2. Argo (Warner Bros.) - $20.1 million
3. Sinister (Summit) - $18.2 million
4. Hotel Monstervision (Sony) - $17.3 million ($102.1 mil.)
5. Paul Blart: Punching Bag (Sony) - $12 million
6. Karoke Mashup (Universal) - $9.3 million ($36 mil.)
7. Children’s Film About A Dead Animal (Disney) - $7 million ($22 mil.)
8. Bruce Willis Chases Bruce Willis (Sony) - $6.3 million ($51.4 mil.)
9. Seven Psychopaths, One Dog (CBS) - $4.2 million
10. The Perks Of Being Jakob Dylan (Summit) - $2.1 million ($6 mil.)