This Weekend @ The BoxOffice: 2015_Sep.27

Hand of Evil

'Hotel Transylvania 2' Boasts New September Opening Record
by Brad Brevet --- September 27, 2015

The Drac Pack appears to be the new owner of the September box office as Hotel Transylvania 2 has followed in the footsteps of its 2012 predecessor and set a new September opening weekend record. In fact, it was a pretty good weekend all around for newcomers as Nancy Meyers has another solid opening on her hands, Eli Roth and BH Tilt scored good numbers with The Green Inferno and a selection of limited releases managed strong numbers on just a few screens. Overall the weekend was up 29.8% from last year, but when you're breaking records that will happen.

Hotel Transylvania 2 topped its predecessor, and previous September opening weekend record holder, by almost $5 million with an estimated weekend haul totaling $47.5 million. From Friday to Sunday the animated film, featuring the voice of Adam Sandler as Dracula, bested its predecessor every day and, with an "A-" CinemaScore (same as the first film), it will likely enjoy a similar week-to-week drop-off. This means good things for the animated sequel's immediate future as the first film didn't drop more than 36.4% until its sixth week in release.

In second was The Intern, the new Nancy Meyers film starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, which scored an "A-" CinemaScore and an estimated $18.2 million for the weekend. The result is the second best opening for a Meyers film out of her last four, topped only by 2009's It's Complicated ($22.1m). It does, however, fall well short of the $33.6 million opening for What Women Want back in 2000.

The expansion of Universal's Everest wasn't nearly what I predicted. Universal pushed the film from its limited IMAX and premium large format release last week into an additional 2,461 theaters this weekend where it made an estimated $13 million. The result was enough for a fourth place finish, but not nearly the result that was expected after that stellar, limited opening.

One expansion that did end positively was the limited expansion of Lionsgate's Sicario. Adding only 53 theaters after opening in six last weekend, the cartel thriller scored an estimated $1.7 million this weekend, enough for a tenth place finish and strong $30,000 per theater average. Sicario expands nationwide next weekend.

Now it's time to talk The Green Inferno, the cannibal horror film from Eli Roth that was delayed a year after some distribution trouble. BH Tilt picked up the rights and boldly experimented with a targeted release in 1,540 theaters. Using a variety of metrics the release depended largely on digital marketing and theaters that were "historically frequented by die-hard horror fans". As a result, the film opened to an estimated $3.49 million.

In an email on Thursday, Tilt said a weekend in the $4-5 million range would be considered successful. While this weekend's estimates come up a bit short, given the subject matter, this seems to prove their marketing strategy worked and it very well could serve as a launching point for a new way of looking at the theatrical release of independent cinema in the future. The question mark for Inferno, budgeted at $5 million, will be the holdover numbers as they clearly managed to find an audience. However, the opening day audience didn't seem entirely impressed as the film earned a "C-" CinemaScore, which doesn't exactly bode well for its future prospects.

In limited release this weekend we first come across Well Go USA Entertainment's release of Xu Zheng's Lost in Hong Kong. Opening in 27 theaters, the sequel to 2012's Lost in Thailand scored an estimated $558,900 ($19,961 per theater). On two screens, Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes, starring Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, brought in $32,807.

Things weren't quite as rosy for Roland Emmerich's Stonewall, which has endured a bit of controversy on its way to theaters. The film opened in 129 theaters this weekend and brought in an estimated $112,414 for an $871 per theater average.

Holding over from last weekend, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials dropped 53.8% for an estimated $14 million and Black Mass dropped a shade under 50% for an estimated $11.5 million sophomore session.

Next weekend will be led by the release of Ridley Scott's The Martian, which is likely looking at big numbers thanks to strong reviews out of the Toronto Film Festival and a heavy marketing campaign. TriStar will release Robert Zemeckis' The Walk into IMAX and premium large format theaters on Wednesday before going wide on October 9 and it enjoyed a heavy dose of positive reviews out of the New York Film Festival this weekend.


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