It's tough to commit to opening new films during this this period. Not only does Halloween (and related non-movie activities) pose significant competition, but TV ad space is at a premium with the tens of millions bought for political campaigns (often at premium prices, making normal discounts less available). The excuses for a weak late October are there to be had. But instead, theaters continue to do well.
1. Paranormal Activity 4 (Paramount) NEW - Cinemascore: C; Metacritic score:41
$30,200,000 in 3,412 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $8,867; Cumulative: $30,200,000
Falling more than 40 percent from last year's $52 million gross for "PA3," for half the total of the top ten, number 4 still managed to easily win the weekend.
With the previous three films in this found-footage horror series grossing over $560-million worldwide on a total combined production cost under $15 million, another turn at bat was certain. And the opening weekend figures -- even if more opening-day front-loaded than most horror films -- should ensure more to come.
Co-directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman repeat after helming the previous entry, a job they scored after their left-field indie docuthriller "Catfish."
What comes next: Perhaps a small reboot might be in order, but ultimately a small decrease in the profit multiple is no reason to make major changes. This is one series that has yet to go 3-D, but its story lines don't easily lend themselves to that format. However, it's worth noting that "PA 4" is less faithful to rigorous found-footage methods.
2. Argo (Warner Brothers) Week 2 - Last Weekend: #2
$16,625,000 (15%) in 3,247 theaters (+15); PSA: $5,120; Cumulative: $43,191,000
Holding extremely well in its second weekend, and keeping its #2 position, Ben Affleck's Iran escape drama is performing exactly like a well-reviewed wide audience potential awards contender. Not only is its $43-million gross through 10 days impressive, but the small drop indicates this should maintain strength for the forseeable future, with little competition for its adult entertainment/drama until Robert Zemeckis' likely smash "Flight" opens two weeks from now.
Affleck's "The Town" held well its second weekend (down -34%) after opening bigger than "Argo" for a total at that point of $48.7 million, now just slightly ahead. Based on these numbers, "Argo" --with continuing consistent grosses and playoff for several more weeks-- should easily pass the earlier film's $92 million total.
What comes next: Warner Bros. set the release date for maximizing the film's box office potential. Remember, another sole October release touted as a potential top Best Picture contender and a major popular success was "The Departed" six years ago--the studio's last Best Picture winner.
3. Hotel Transylvania (Sony) Week 4 - Last Weekend: #4
$13,500,000 (-22%) in 3,014 theaters (-361); PSA: $4,479; Cumulative: $119,000,000
Outstanding hold, and an actual climb in position for the fourth week.
What comes next: And the pre-Halloween weekend is yet to come, so this has a real shot at $150 million and more.
4. Taken 2 (20th Century-Fox) Week 3 - Last Weekend: #1
$13,400,000 (-37%) in 3,489 theaters (-217); PSA: $3,841; Cumulative: $105,971,000
A modest falloff in the third weekend follows two strong weeks with grosses ahead of the first "Taken," whose third weekend was $19 million, less that 8% down from its second. And that steadiness helped push it up to a domestic gross of $145 million, a bit more than "Taken 2" will reach.
What comes next: This still has performed every bit as well as hoped, with its international take already ahead for all of "Taken."
5. Alex Cross (Lionsgate) NEW - Cinemascore: A; Metacritic score: 33
$11,750,000 in 2,539 theaters; PSA: $4,628; Cumulative: $11,750,000
Tyler Perry's third starring film of the year is his first lead role ever for another director, and quite a change of pace from his usual comedy roles, as well as against type as a character, as he takes over from Morgan Freeman as a police psychologist. Also based on James Patterson novels were "Kiss the Girl" and "Along Came a Spider," which both delivered grosses that would be the equivalent of close to $100 milliion today.
Clearly a Lionsgate/Summit miscalculation as to how audiences want to see Perry--in his own home-grown product, often in drag--this film has opened as low as any Perry-starring film, more problematic with its reported production cost of $23 million being greater than normal for his own productions. These have been consistently profitable films for Lionsgate (low end of theatrical gross $30 million, many much higher). This is going to struggle to reach that level.