Maybe The Gangster Squad should have stayed put after all. Its cowardly desertion of this weekend following the Aurora shootings (it originally climaxed with a movie theater shootings) left September 4th without a major opener and none of the big action releases over the next month (Looper, End of Watch, Dredd, etc.) stepped up to the plate, leaving a vacuum. As a result, this was the lowest-grossing weekend in several years (which just proves - it's the movies, stupid!). The top opener of the weak was The Words, a CBS Films drama starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, and Olivia Wilde. All solid names but none save for Cooper qualifying as box office (Saldana sells in action, but not quiet drama). The badly reviewed literary plagiarism vehicle both seems like the kind of character-driven drama we claim to want more of as well as the kind of thing (especially due to the reviews) that will play just fine on DVD in three months. So its $5 million opening weekend is unfortunate, if not a surprise. The film cost just $6 million and was an acquisition, so CBS's financial damages are limited to marketing and distribution.
The only other wide opener was the last-minute 1,500-screen debut of Lionsgate/Summit's The Cold Light of Day. This not-half-bad Henry Cavill/Bruce Willis/Sigourney Weaver B-movie actioner has been around in Europe for awhile and was planning on a limited debut this weekend. But Lionsgate saw the obvious hole in the schedule and rolled the dice. Alas, almost no advertising and unfairly bad reviews (it's harmless and Cavill convincingly plays an untrained action hero with amusing imperfection), the film earned just $1.9 million. Not much more to say about this one, other than Lionsgate should have either made this decision a month ago (be it for this picture or its Dredd) or not bothered. I took my daughter to the fantastic ParaNorman (which crossed $45 million this weekend) on Friday and several young men in line had no idea what The Cold Light of Day was about and were arguing over whether it was Looper or A Good Day to Die Hard. I explained to them it was neither and they decided to see The Expendables II (which crossed $75 million domestic and $100 million worldwide) instead. Anyway, I may have time to write a review later this week, but you should track this one down as a lazy Saturday night rental when the time comes.
The other would-be wide release was Paramount's IMAX-only rerelease of Raiders of the Lost Ark, unleashed in 267 digital IMAX theaters as a glorified advertisement for the Indiana Jones franchise's upcoming Blu-Ray release. It was a nice gesture on Paramount and Spielberg's part, letting an entire generation of younger moviegoers (by that I mean basically people my age or younger) see the first Indiana Jones adventure on a very big screen. I barely have time to see the new movies I want to see, let alone a digital 2K showing of a movie I have on DVD and am buying on Blu Ray in a couple weeks. Anyway, the film had the highest per-screen average in he top ten, earning a whopping $6,563 per IMAX screen ($1.725 million total). The only notable limited release was the 47-screen debut of the Kirsten Dunst/Isla Fisher/Lizzy Caplan comedy Bachlerorette, which earned a decent $4,065 per each screen for a $191,000 debut. That's more impressive when you realize that the film has been a top-selling Video On Demand title for the last month. The rest of the news is holdover related, and it's pretty grim. In good news, The Possession technically topped the box office, dropping 46% (quite low for a horror film) for a second weekend gross of $9.5 million and a ten-day cume of $33 million. That puts it in line to easily top the $41 million gross of The Last Exorcism (both had about $33 million after the second weekend, but the newer film had a smaller opening weekend and a much smaller weekend drop) and gives it a chance to top the $55 million total of The Haunting In Connecticut. It's already surpassed the final gross of The Eye ($31 million).
Lawless dropped 41% off an already mediocre debut, earning $6 million and bringing its 12-day cume to $23.5 million. Premium Rush has $2.3 million this weekend and now has grossed $16.7 million thus far. Hope Springs earned $2.8 million for a $57 million cume, so mazel tov on the strong legs for this one. Sparkle has $23 million and is likely to be strong on DVD. The Bourne Legacy earned $4 million this weekend and indeed crossed the $100 million mark, which wasn't a guarantee after its opening weekend. In other "good news", Obama's America has stayed potent crossing $26 million this weekend and becoming the second-biggest political documentary of all-time, behind the $119 million-grossing Fahrenheit 9/11. With $3.2 million this weekend, it will cross $30 million by the end of the week and will probably top out at $35 million. Hopefully this will motivate Michael Moore to get back in the game and come up with something better than the surprisingly flaccid Capitalism: A Love Story. The Odd Life of Timothy Green now has $43 million, The Campaign is just short of $80 million, and The Dark Knight Rises now has a mammoth $437 million (it just passed ET on the all-time highest domestic earners list for #8), which means it will end its run with about $450 million, which is about what reasonable pundits were predicted at the beginning of summer. Madagascar 3 has topped $215 million and will inch by Kung Fu Panda over the next week or so. Oh, and Beasts of the Southern Wild topped $10 million, so a hearty congrats.
That's it for this miserable weekend. Join us next time for two big releases. The 3D reissue of Finding Nemo squares off against Paul WS Anderson's Resident Evil: Retribution while Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master will try to set a per-screen average record in four theaters. Until then, take care and keep reading.