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Multiplexes across North America were busier than normal for this time of year as the hit re-release The Lion King 3D held onto the number one spot for a second frame driving the box office to a new record high for the month of September. Moviegoers also lined up for Seven partners Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman as their new releases Moneyball and Dolphin Tale both debuted higher than expected in a close battle for second place. For the first time in history, three different films grossed north of $20M on the same September weekend as the Top 20 soared to a stellar $115M - a new record for the back-to-school month.
Just as it did 17 years ago when the original version first hit theaters, the new updated conversion The Lion King 3D opened in first place ruling the North American box office. Doubling industry expectations, the Disney smash grossed more than the weekend's three other new films combined. The action drama Drive generated a moderate debut in third while the thriller Straw Dogs and the comedy I Don't Know How She Does It both failed to excite moviegoing audiences.
This weekend, grossing as much as the rest of the top five combined, the virus thriller Contagion opened at number one topping a sluggish frame that saw ticket sales slump to a new low for the year. The Warner Bros. drama scored an estimated $23.1M bow from 3,222 theaters (including 257 higher-priced IMAX screens) for a sturdy $7,180 average playing to a mature adult crowd. The PG-13 film starring Matt Damon, Gwenyth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, and Marion Cotillard benefited from an intriguing end-of-world disaster plot, a well-respected cast led by six Oscar winners and nominees, strong reviews, weak competition, and a solid marketing push. Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh directed.
The North American box office slumped to its second lowest point of the year thanks to the lack of a breakout new hit plus a devastating hurricane wiping out plenty of business on the east coast. With tens of millions of people forced to stay home and many theaters shutting down for a day or two, moviegoing took a major hit across a large part of the country. But with films trying to pick up Saturday's lost business on Sunday, and the weather event hitting at a time when the marketplace is generally weak anyway, the overall impact was not incredibly severe.
This weekend, the sleeper hit The Help ruled the North American box office in its second weekend climbing into the number one spot beating out four new releases which all stumbled in their debuts. The book-based drama grossed an estimated $20.5M slipping a mere 21% in its sophomore session setting up what will be a long-lasting run into blockbuster territory. The Disney release averaged a stellar $7,613 from only 2,690 theaters and raised its 12-day cume to a solid $71.8M. Help should have no problem making its way to $130M and could even soar much higher beating out many of this summer's big-budget action offerings. Great reviews and strong word-of-mouth have made it into an event film for adults and appeal has been expanding beyond older females with more demographics discovering the story.
Despite four new films attacking the North American box office, the sci-fi actioner Rise of the Planet of the Apes remained strong enough to hold onto its spot at number one. But the big winner was found in second place as the book-based drama The Help soared above expectations - and all the other new releases - delivering a sensational opening weekend ahead of what could be a very long run in theaters. The 3D horror sequel Final Destination 5 and the action-comedy 30 Minutes or Less both scored decent debuts but the concert doc Glee Live! 3D was dead on arrival landing outside of the top ten.
Audiences all hailed Caesar as the primate at the center of the sci-fi prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes conquered the North American box office with an opening that rose well past industry expectations. Conversely, the latest in this summer's parade of R-rated comedies The Change-Up generated a lackluster debut finishing in fourth place. But the overall marketplace remained robust thanks to the incredible breadth of titles. For the first time all year, seven different films made over $10M over the weekend.
In a stunning development, two studios estimated the exact same opening weekend gross for their new big-budget summer films making for a tie for the number one spot at the North American box office. Sony's 3D kidpic The Smurfs performed well above expectations while Universal's action entry Cowboys & Aliens failed to meet its projected target. Each studio estimated a $36.2M weekend gross including a $10.1M Sunday figure. Once actual Sunday sales are counted on Monday, the true rankings will be decided.
This weekend, the fourth and final super hero film of the summer arrived and like its predecessors, Captain America: The First Avenger also debuted at number one although this one had to defeat the Harry Potter juggernaut in the process. Fellow freshman entry Friends With Benefits, a new sex comedy starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, debuted in third place. In between was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 which suffered a steep fall in its second weekend but still posted a near-record 10-day cume. The overall box office was robust thanks to the recent wave of franchise films. The final piece of the Avengers puzzle fell into its place as Captain America scored a muscular opening weekend with an estimated $65.8M from 3,715 locations for a powerful $17,719 average.
This weekend, box office records of all kinds were demolished by the wildly anticipated franchise closer Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which generated the biggest opening in Hollywood history. The eighth and final chapter in the decade-long fantasy series opened to an eye-popping $168.6M from North America, according to estimates, plus an additional $307M from overseas markets which began running the film on Wednesday leading to a scorching worldwide launch of $475.6M. All three figures broke the all-time records beating The Dark Knight's $158.4M domestic opening weekend in July 2008, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' $260.4M international bow this past May, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's $394M global debut in July 2009.
A pair of star-driven comedies couldn't keep the 3D juggernaut Transformers: Dark of the Moon from holding onto the number one spot at the worldwide box office as the Autobots held up well for an action sequel coming off of a holiday putting it on course to possibly reach the $1 billion global box office mark. The Michael Bay behemoth grossed an estimated $47M in its second weekend falling 52% from its debut frame - not bad for the third chapter in a sci-fi tentpole franchise. Last weekend's Friday-to-Sunday take did not include the opening day which helped keep the decline manageable, but still the hold for this type of film was commendable. The third Transformers flick has now banked a stellar $261M in under two weeks making it the top-grossing domestic blockbuster of 2011.
Towering over all other films, the third Transformers installment debuted to an estimated $116.4M over the extended Friday-to-Monday holiday period and a colossal $181.1M since its launch on Tuesday night with 9pm previews. The Friday-to-Sunday portion was $97.5M. That was good enough to break the seven-year-old records for this holiday set in 2004 by the highly anticipated superhero sequel Spider-Man 2 which bowed to $88.2M over the Friday-to-Sunday span and $115.8M over the Friday-to-Monday period. Taking out the $5.5M that Optimus Prime brought in from Tuesday night sneaks, the actual Wednesday-to-Sunday tally for the robots was $156.7M. The Spidey pic sold more tickets though as Transformers enjoyed a big jump in 2D prices plus 3D surcharges.
This weekend, two new releases opened big as Pixar's 3D animated sequel Cars 2 and the raunchy Cameron Diaz comedy Bad Teacher both excited their target audiences pumping in nearly $100M worth of ticket sales at the North American box office. Scoring its twelfth number one hit, Pixar's Cars 2 finished in first place by a mile with an estimated $68M. Meanwhile, Cameron Diaz enjoyed one of the best openings of her career with the raunchy school comedy Bad Teacher which powered well ahead of expectations to debut to an estimated $31M.
The super hero summer continued with the third comic book film of the season debuting at number one as Green Lantern shot to the top of the box office with a less-than-stellar opening weekend of $52.7M, according to studio estimates. The pricey Warner Bros. release averaged $13,806 from 3,816 theaters including ones offering the PG-13 film in 3D with extra surcharges. Although the amount of the weekend take would be welcomed by most films, Lantern carried a reported pricetag of about $200M plus was backed by one of the most expensive marketing campaigns of any summer movie so far.
This weekend Fox rebooted its mutant super hero franchise and scored a top spot launch with the comic book pic X-Men: First Class which stood as the frame's only new wide release. The PG-13 film debuted to an estimated $56M over the weekend from 3,641 theaters for a solid $15,380 average. It was in line with other Marvel super hero films of the same type, most notably 2008's reboot The Incredible Hulk which debuted to $55.4M in June of that summer. Both followed films that were widely disliked and featured new directors, cast, and storylines in hopes of winning back fans.
This weekend, North American moviegoers stormed their local megaplexes as the four-day Memorial Day holiday frame set a new record led by strong openings for a pair of Asian-set sequels. The highly-anticipated comedy The Hangover Part II registered a scorching launch while the animated pic Kung Fu Panda 2 enjoyed a solid start of its own. The adventure tentpole Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides suffered a big drop in its second weekend but still contributed large numbers in third place as the summer of sequels drew massive numbers of ticket buyers into theaters making for the biggest weekend in a year and a half.
Johnny Depp and his jolly pals seized control of the North American box office with the adventure tentpole Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides which registered the year's biggest opening while internationally the latest Captain Jack saga commanded much more power smashing records with the largest overseas opening of all-time. Most holdovers suffered large drops, however the hit comedy Bridesmaids took advantage of sensational buzz to post a fantastic hold putting it on track to break the $100M mark.
The super hero adventure Thor held firmly to the number one spot in its second weekend with a solid hold while the raunchy comedy Bridesmaids scored an impressive debut in second place. April's Brazil-set blockbusters Fast Five and Rio both remained in the top five thanks to good legs while the new 3D thriller Priest debuted in fourth with moderate results. Overall ticket sales were only slightly off from last year's red hot frame.
This weekend, the latest super hero from the Marvel vault made his debut on the silver screen as Thor soared to a number one opening in North America. The sequel Fast Five fell sharply but finished in second with a hefty take of its own as both films continued to fight it out across the global box office. Rival wedding comedies battled it out for third place with the black-led Jumping the Broom edging out the white-led Something Borrowed despite playing in 900 fewer theaters. But the overall marketplace could not match up to last year's frame which saw a gargantuan bow from a bigger comic book avenger -- Iron Man 2.
Doubling its nearest competitor, the effects-driven super hero flick Thor bowed on top with an estimated $66M from 3,955 locations for a muscular $16,688 average.