"Insidious 2" continues producer Jason Blum's amazing record of big openings with low-budget horror films, with an inflation-unadjusted second-best-ever September opening at $41 million. The other new opening, "The Family" (actually a French film with a lead American cast, made in English) was a weaker #2. Curiously, in the weekend that marks the closing of the film-media dominating Toronto Film Festival, the directors of both these films -- James Wan and Luc Besson -- both had their first films shown at that festival ("Saw," in James Wan's case, premiered earlier at Sundance). So once again, despite the distance on the surface, the ties between the specialized and studio world remain closely entwined.
The total for the top 10 was once again above last year's, at $86 million, compared to $65 million in 2012, mainly because of the "Insidious" snumber. This healthy total (quite good for a mid-September weekend) once again stretches the small but growing year-to-date lead over 2012 that was achieved about a month ago and is beginning to look like a trend.
1. Insidious: Chapter 2 (FilmDistrict) NEW - Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire: B-; Metacritic: 41
$41,005,000 in 3,049 theaters; PSA (Per Screen Average): $13,463; Cumulative: $41,005,000
Falling just short of the unadjusted record for a September opening ("Hotel Transylvania" last year; adjusted "Rush Hour" and "Sweet Home Alabama" were also better), "Insidious: Chapter 2" was outstanding as Jason Blum's low-budget ($5 million, with a number of players have heavy back-end participation) production tripled the gross of the original in 2011.
For both its producer and director this is a second #1 opening for the summer -- Blum's "The Purge" surprised for Universal in June with $34 million, while Wan's "The Conjuring" shocked with just under $42 million in July for Warner Bros. These are astounding results, even when new horror films often overperform in non-prime weeks.
Making this gross even more impressive is that this isn't a premium ticket 3-D film. It is the biggest opening yet for revamped FilmDistrict, which earlier this year impressed with the sleeper success "Olympus Has Fallen," which opened to $30.4 million on its way to a $99 million total.
"The Conjuring" star Patrick Wilson now has had two horror film hits this year. Joining him in reprising their earlier "Insidious" roles were Barbara Hershey and Rose Byrne (whose diverse other hits include "Bridesmaids" and "The Place Beyond the Pines").
What comes next: The first "Insidious" quadrupled its opening weekend (unusual in the genre, where something a bit more than double is more common). Blum's films tend to be closer to that level, while historically Wan's have been closer to triple. With this huge opening. somewhere in between -- $100 million -- is possible, but not guaranteed. International (the U.K. opened at #1 this weekend) should end up somewhere in the same range.
2. The Family (Relativity) NEW - Cinemascore: C; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 46