WINNER OF THE WEEK: The horrific. Exorcism chiller The Possession easily won the holiday weekend, debuting with an estimated $17.7 million from Friday to Sunday and $21.3 million over the four-day weekend. Labor Day has been a good weekend to open a horror movie for about a decade now, provided the film is at least moderately well-marketed. (Contrast the fate of The Possession with last week's The Apparition, unceremoniously dumped into a handful of theaters to open at No. 12; this weekend, it fell out of the top 20 altogether and has an estimated two-weekend total of just $4.4 million.)
Lawless isn't a horror movie, though the period crime thriller could be, with its gory mutilations, unstinting violence, and copious vomit. It did very well, too, opening in second place with an estimated $9.7 million. (or $13.0 million for the full holiday). And kiddie horror flick ParaNorman held up in its third week with an estimated $6.6 million ($8.9 million through Monday), for fifth place. (Rounding out the top five were The Expendables 2, falling to third place after two weeks on top, with an estimated $8.8 million from Friday to Sunday and $11.2 million for the holiday, followed by The Bourne Legacy, with $7.3 million over the weekend and $9.4 million from Friday to Monday.)
LOSER OF THE WEEK: The adorable. The relentlessly cute The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, meant to amuse toddlers even more than it nauseates parents, could have been a success during a season where there's not much out there for the Nick Jr. set. But the movie was haphazardly marketed and self-distributed by Kenn Viselman, who is responsible for bringing the Teletubbies and Thomas the Tank Engine to these shores. According to estimates, the film took in just $448,000 on 2,160 screens from Friday to Sunday. That's an average per screen of $207, a record low for a wide-release movie. Think about it: that's $69 a day, or maybe one adult and one child ticket per screening. Yikes.
ONE SORRY SUMMER: With the annual May Day-to-Labor Day blockbuster season drawing to a close, a crunch of the numbers for the entire summer looks less than superheroic. Sales were $4.28 billion, down 6.7 percent from last summer and down about 100 million tickets from 10 summers ago. Why so dismal? Blame the Aurora shooting, blame the Olympics, but mostly, blame the movies. Sure, a handful did well; worldwide, The Avengers is now the third highest-grossing movie of all time (it's the first movie to cross $1.5 billion without James Cameron directing), and The Dark Knight Rises has just crossed the $1 billion benchmark. Nine additional movies made more than $100 million domestically. But last summer, there were 18 of those nine-figure movies. Plus, this summer saw some colossal flops, from Battleship to Total Recall. Even the usually dependable Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller had flops this summer. Overall, it appears that guys under 25, the demographic Hollywood counts on, especially during the season of spectacle, just weren't that interested this summer. The studios are left to hope that fall movies like the final Twilight and the new James Bond will rescue the remainder of the year. In other words, it'll be up to audiences Hollywood typically dismisses – teenage girls and grownups – to save the day.