WINNERS OF THE WEEK: Romantic comedies. Yes, the week's top movie was a kiddie cartoon sequel, but look what's dominating the chart: Love stories for grown-ups! Opening in fourth place was Baggage Claim, with an estimated $9.3 million, a larger take than anyone figured for a rom-com directed primarily at African-American audiences, without Tyler Perry's name attached. Right behind it was Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's writing/directing debut. The tale of a porn-addicted Jersey lothario debuted at Number Five and earned an estimated $9.0 million, a bit below the $10-$12 million pundits had predicted. Then again, Baggage, starring the on-the-rise Paula Patton, drew stronger word-of-mouth than Jon (CinemaScore graded them A- and C+, respectively).
And in 11th place, just $300,000 shy of a top 10 berth, Enough Said expanded from last week's four-theater debut into 227 theaters and earned an estimated $2.1 million. That's a per-screen average of $9,317 for the Julia Louis-Dreyfus/James Gandolfini romance, the best for any movie currently playing.
LOSERS OF THE WEEK: The big boys. True, it's hard to call Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 a loser. It opened at Number One with an estimated $35.0 million, well ahead of the $30.3 million the original debuted with four years ago. Still, expectations for this cartoon were high, as high as $43 million, since it had the family market all to itself. In fact, it'll have the market to itself for pretty much the entire month of October, and it has strong word-of-mouth (an A- from CinemaScore), so maybe it'll have the legs to make up for underperforming this weekend.
Also underperforming a little was Rush, which expanded from five screens to 2,297 and earned an estimated $10.3 million, good for third place. Again, everyone expected Ron Howard's Formula 1 docudrama to race as far as $12 or $13 million. Like Cloudy, Rush has an A- from CinemaScore, so word-of-mouth and strong reviews from critics might carry it along, were it not about to run smack into next weekend's Gravity, which is said to offer a similar mix of visual thrills and prestige filmmaking of the sort that attracts awards voters and adult ticketbuyers.
Another prestige thriller, Prisoners, fell 45 percent this weekend to an estimated $11.3 million, taking second place, but that second-weekend drop was expected for the Hugh Jackman kidnap drama.
MASTER OF TICKETS: This weekend's biggest indie release was Metallica Through the Never, which opened on 318 IMAX 3D screens and grossed an estimated $1.7 million, finishing at Number 13. The metal veterans' movie, which spices up the usual stage footage with 3D visuals and a plot about a roadie on a quest, earned a solid $5,429 per screen, which bodes well for its release beyond IMAX venues next weekend.