Sony's "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" dominated Friday's grosses, an easy #1 for opening day, grossing $9.3 million. This places it in between the $8.1 million first day of the initial "Meatballs" and the $11.0 million of "Hotel Transylvania" (also Sony) on the same Friday a year ago. With weekend matinees ahead and little competition for kids' audiences, this animated feature will likely gross more than the #2-4 films combined.
The top 10 for the day totaled around $30 million, about the same as last year. That total comes from a grab bag of new wide releases and one significant holdover, all of which took in between $3.2 and $3.7 million, with their final order for the weekend up in the air. #2 for the moment is Ron Howard's "Rush" (Universal), after a platform opening last weekend that was less than spectacular, as is its initial wide response. Like last week's #1 film "Prisoners" (Warner Bros.), Universal had hoped to ride of a wave of "Rush" publicity and strong reviews coming off its Toronto festival premiere.
Denis Villeneuve's kidnapping thriller at $3.4 million dropped more than 50% from last Friday, and looks to have a weekend total not much better than half its initial full weekend figure, a disappointing result suggesting it doesn't have the sort of audience reaction that will sustain at the level of other early fall awards-driven films like "Argo" and "The Town" in recent years.
The other two new films, while not as high profile as "Rush" or "Prisoners," both actually had decent Friday showings. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's "Don Jon," a Sundance premiere that Relativity decided to take wide from the start, and "Baggage Claim" (Fox Searchlight, released by parent Fox) both grossed just under $3.3 million, like "Rush," playing on fewer than 2,500 screens. Both films, aimed at more niche audiences (late teen/early 20s and African-American demos, respectively), with lower initial production/acquisition and marketing budgets than the more high-profile "Rush" and "Prisoners," making their performance relatively more impressive so far.
The standout in the rest of the top 10 for the day is "Metallica Through the Never," which in only 308 theaters (all 3-D) grossed $783,000, good for #9 so far (although the closely bunched grosses and its likely strong first day appeal doesn't guarantee its place for the full weekend). Irrespective of where it lands, it's an impressive return for longtime industry vet Bob Berney, who oversaw the release through the revitalized Picturehouse.