Box Office Guru Wrapup: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Wins the Weekend

Plus, Rush, Baggage Claim, Don Jon end up at 3, 4, and 5.

This weekend, Sony hit the top spot in North America with its new animated sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 which grossed more than the frame's other three wide openers combined. The PG-rated 3D pic bowed to an estimated $35M from an ultrawide 4,001 theaters delivering a $8,748 average. Compared to the first Cloudy from this same month four years ago, the sequel's opening weekend gross was 16% higher but its average fell 10%. The original, also in 3D, was released in nearly 900 fewer locations bowing to $30.3M on its way to $124.9M, or four times its opening weekend.

Meatballs 2 had a solid debut for sure, but considering how well-liked the first film was and how empty the marketplace is right now for family movies, the opening was not stellar. A year ago this weekend, the same studio found itself with a $42.5M opening for the animated comedy Hotel Transylvania which did not have the benefit of a built-in audience. It did boast the voice talents of box office titan Adam Sandler, however the toon was not promoted as a Sandler vehicle per se.

But the road ahead for Meatballs looks promising as the entire month of October lacks new kidpics. It's a rare case for studios to just give up on a whole month like this. Also audiences did like the new $78M-budgeted food flick as the CinemaScore grade was an A- so reaching past the $100M domestic mark is certainly possible. Reviews were decent, but not outstanding.

Falling 46% in its second weekend and landing in second place was last week's top film Prisoners with an estimated $11.3M. The Warner Bros. release has grossed $39M in ten days and should end up with $65-70M, a solid amount for an adult drama opening in September.

Ron Howard's Formula One drama Rush expanded nationwide after a one-week platform run and raced into third place this weekend with an estimated $10.3M. It was a respectable showing as the Universal release averaged $4,490 from 2,297 theaters. With a non-American cast and subject matter, the R-rated film was a tough sell to U.S. crowds and a marketplace filled with other options for adults did not help any. Cume is now $10.6M.

With solid buzz from the Toronto International Film Festival, stellar reviews, and an encouraging A- CinemaScore grade, Rush hopes to keep attracting business in the weeks ahead thanks to word-of-mouth. However, direct competition for adults will only get more fierce each week in October especially with Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney looking to deliver a powerful debut next weekend. Studio research showed that the 1970s-set Rush played 52% male and skewed old -- 53% were 40 or above.

The comedy Baggage Claim premiered in fourth place to decent results collecting an estimated $9.3M from 2,027 locations for a moderate $4,588 average. Panned by critics, the PG-13 film starring Paula Patton as a woman determined to get engaged before her younger sister's wedding skewed towards an audience of African-American women. Customers liked what they paid for as the CinemaScore grade was an A-.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt made a modest debut in fifth place with his first directorial effort Don Jon which grossed an estimated $9M from 2,422 theaters for a soft $3,716 average. The R-rated pic about a ladies man addicted to porn who finally meets Ms. Right (Scarlett Johansson) garnered strong reviews from critics, but was rejected by those who actually paid to see the movie.

Its CinemaScore grade was a disappointing C+. That was close to the C- from Ryan Gosling's Drive from 2011 which was another September pic centered around a hot young male star which won over critics, but got a thumbs down from ticket buyers. Sometimes quality doesn't sell. A crowded marketplace for adult stories made things tough and the Don Jon opening was almost identical to the $8.6M bow and $3,517 average of the actor's cancer comedy 50/50 from two years ago this very weekend.

Dropping 51% in its third scare was the hit fright sequel Insidious Chapter 2 with an estimated $6.7M giving FilmDistrict a stellar $69.5M to date. Relativity collected an estimated $3.7M for The Family, down 48%, for a $31.7M cume.

Falling 37% was the Mexican comedy Instructions Not Included with an estimated $3.4M and a total of $38.6M for Lionsgate. It now stands as the highest-grossing Spanish-language film of all-time in the U.S. surpassing Pan's Labyrinth.

The Jennifer Aniston comedy We're the Millers became only the second summer film this year to last for eight weeks in the top ten joining Iron Man 3, the year's top-grossing blockbuster. The sleeper smash took in an estimated $2.9M, off 37%, for a $142.4M sum to date. Rounding out the top ten was the White House hit The Butler with an estimated $2.4M, down 42%, putting The Weinstein Co. at $110.3M.

Fox Searchlight enjoyed a solid expansion for its indie romantic comedy Enough Said starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini. Widening from four to 227 locations, the well-reviewed pic grossed an estimated $2.1M for a promising $9,317 average. Enough has banked $2.5M to date. Next weekend's expansion will see the theater count double, though it will have to lure eyeballs away from Bullock and Clooney.

The concert-thriller hybrid Metallica Through the Never opened outside the top ten with its IMAX 3D release debuting to an estimated $1.7M from 308 locations for a $5,429 average which was only moderate given the higher prices. Tickets cost as high as $21.50 each in New York City. The R-rated title earned good reviews and was distributed by Picturehouse which goes wider next weekend into about 650 playdates including conventional screens.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $94M which was down 9% from last year when Hotel Transylvania debuted at number one with $42.5M; but up 13% from 2011 when Dolphin Tale climbed into the top spot with $13.9M.

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