Box Office Guru Wrapup: Possession Opens #1 As Summer Ends

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The summer of super heroes came to a close with a pair of new releases taking the top two spots at the North American box office over the four-day Labor Day holiday frame while comic book hits continued their global domination passing new milestones. The horror pic The Possession debuted at number one, the period crime drama Lawless bowed in second place and holdovers filled up the rest of the top ten with mostly small declines thanks to Monday being a holiday. Overall ticket sales were on par with what the industry has seen recently over this summer-ending frame.

Lionsgate enjoyed a solid opening for its supernatural thriller The Possession which spooked up an estimated $21.3M over the long Friday-to-Monday period from 2,816 locations for a sturdy $7,564 per-theater average over four days. The three-day portion was $17.7M. The PG-13 film about a demon living in a creepy box became the first fright film in five years to open at number one over Labor Day weekend. The last was 2007's Halloween remake with $26.4M over three days and $30.6M over the four-day holiday span. This is the second best opening ever for any film over this holiday after the Michael Myers redo.
As with many creepy thrillers of this type, young females drove the business. Studio research showed that 59% of the audience was female and 54% was under 25. Producer Sam Raimi's name was heavily promoted and a targeted campaign aimed at Latinos also paid dividends. Reviews were negative and audiences polled by CinemaScore gave a mediocre B grade.

Opening with modest results in second place was the crime drama Lawless with an estimated $13M from 2,888 locations for a mild $4,501 average across four days. $10M came from the three-day portion. The Weinstein Co. release starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Gary Oldman collected $15.1M since its Wednesday launch. Reviews were generally positive but overall consumer interest was never very high for the Prohibition-era tale. The CinemaScore grade was a decent B+.

After its two-week run in the top spot, the action sequel The Expendables 2 dropped to third place with an estimated $11.2M. That gave Lionsgate a cume of $68.6M in 18 days. Universal's own franchise actioner The Bourne Legacy held up better slipping to an estimated $9.4M over the long weekend upping the cume to $98.4M. It will join its three predecessors in the century club later this week.

PG-rated kidpics followed. The Focus toon ParaNorman dropped to an estimated $8.9M while Disney's dramedy The Odd Life of Timothy Green jumped up to an estimated $8.5M. With the extra time off, Labor Day weekend is often a popular time for parents to go to the movies with their kids before the new school year gets busy. Totals stand at $40.2M and $38.4M.

Batfans came out again for The Dark Knight Rises which in its seventh round collected an estimated $7.9M propelling the domestic cume to $433.2M. The four-day gross rose 10% compared to last weekend's three-day score. That was slightly better than the 6% uptick that The Dark Knight posted over Labor Day weekend four years ago when it cracked the half-billion mark. A final North American haul of roughly $450M seems likely for Rises.

Worldwide, the Bane flick cracked the $1 billion mark thanks in part to a solid debut in China this past week. The Christopher Nolan smash collected a rough estimate of $28.5M there across the seven-day opening of Monday-to-Sunday finishing behind the $33.3M launch over the same period for The Amazing Spider-Man which was in 3D and released at the exact same time. For this current weekend in all 64 markets - including Italy which also launched - Rises took in an estimated $46.4M lifting the international take to $574M and the worldwide haul to $1.007 billion edging out the final global gross for 2008's Joker hit.

Another super hero flick hitting a milestone this weekend was The Avengers which crossed the $1.5 billion barrier - only the third movie in history to reach this level and the first one not from James Cameron. Disney re-released it, along with Brave, into over 1,700 theaters for an extra round of cash pushing the domestic figure to $620.3M. Most theaters split one screen programing showtimes for both films. It was a summer of super heroes as the three comic book behemoths grossed a combined $3.25 billion across the globe. To no surprise, a string of new super hero films are already scheduled on the calendar for the coming years including next summer's Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel.

After a stellar nationwide expansion last weekend, the political documentary 2016 Obama?s America fizzled out in wider play grossing an estimated $7.1M for a $4,057 average over four days. The Rocky Mountain release widened from 1,091 to 1,747 theaters but saw its three-day weekend gross drop 22% which was a larger decline than many films in the top ten which had no expansion. The bigger footprint and the buzz coming out of last week's Republican National Convention was expected to give more of a boost. Still, 2016 has grossed an impressive $20.3M to date and may be headed for the neighborhood of $30M which would be enormous for a documentary.

Will Ferrell's election comedy The Campaign followed with an estimated $7M for a $74.6M cume to date for Warner Bros. Rounding out the top ten with a good hold was Sony's Hope Springs with an estimated $6M over the long weekend and $53.4M overall.

Finding no takers this weekend was the new kidpic The Oogieloves which debuted outside the Top 20 with a pitiful $602,000, according to estimates, over four days. The G-rated film for pre-schoolers averaged a dismal $279 from 2,160 theaters which averaged out to about three tickets sold per showtime.

Two new films opening in limited release posted respectable numbers. The phone sex comedy For a Good Time, Call... bowed to an estimated $186,000 from 23 sites for a $8,090 average for Focus. Indomina's martial arts epic Flying Swords of Dragon Gate starring Jet Li took in an estimated $125,000 from 15 of AMC's IMAX 3D venues averaging $8,333.

With another big movie season coming to an end, the top five domestic blockbusters ended up being The Avengers ($620.3M), The Dark Knight Rises ($433.2M), The Amazing Spider-Man ($260M), Brave ($232.3M), and Ted ($216M).

The top ten films grossed an estimated $100.3M over four days which was up a scant 1% from last year when The Help was number one for a third straight frame with $19.9M; and up 7% from 2010 when The American opened on top with $16.7M.

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