The American box office was subdued this weekend thanks to a number of expected and unexpected factors. The fear and disaster preparedness of Hurricane Sandy dampened ticket sales on the East Coast. Early Halloween parties affected the key 18 to 34-year-old demo across the country on Saturday. And Sunday? Well, the West Coast of Canada was rocked by the country’s biggest earthquake in almost a century and Hawaii was dealing with yet another major Tsunami warning (later downgraded to an advisory). It’s no surprise then, that ticket sales were a tad lower than Hollywood was hoping for.
One film that continues to battle the elements with excellent word of mouth is Ben Affleck’s “Argo.” The potential Oscar drama dropped just 24% for another $12.3 million as it reached the no. 1 spot in its third weekend of release. The Warner Bros. release has grossed a strong $60.7 million so far. If word continues to spread about the Iranian Hostage era drama than the magic $100 million mark isn’t out of the question. In fact, at worst “Argo” should match the domestic take of Affleck’s last directorial effort, “The Town.” That acclaimed 2010 thriller found $92.1 million.
Continuing to be the top family film option at no. 2 is Sony PIctures Animation’s “Hotel Transylvania.” The surprise fall hit grossed an estimated $9.5 million for a superb $130.4 million to date. “Transylvania” is now the Sony division’s highest grossing release surpassing “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs'” $124.8 million.
The third slot went to another Warner Bros.’ release, “Cloud Atlas.” Playing in just 2008 theaters, “Atlas” had the highest per screen in the top 10 with $4,681, but only grossed $9.4 million. The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer polarized critics with reactions all across the board, but audiences gave it an unfortunate Cinemascore of C+ which isn’t good for its long term prospects domestically. The $100 million independently financed production may have to look overseas to eventually break even.
Paramount Pictures has already greenlit a fifth installment of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, but after “Paranormal Activity 4’s” subpar debut last weekend and the film’s 70% drop this frame they may want to reconsider. “PA4” grossed $8.6 million over the three-day for $42.6 million in just 10 days. Of course, the found footage horror flick cost only $5 million and is already in the black, but this is one horror series that is fading fast.
The fifth slot went to another horror movie, Open Road Films’ “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.” Perhaps suffering from too many horror flicks in the market place with “PA4” and Summit’s “Sinister” also doing well, the “Silent Hill” sequel found just $8 million. With an negative cost of $20 million, “Silent Hill” is going to have to be a big hit on DVD or On Demand to come close to profitability.
Also disappointing this weekend was the 20th Century Fox surfing drama “Chasing Mavericks” which crashed with just $2.2 million in over 2,000 theaters. Faring almost as bad was Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Films’ “Fun Size.” Featuring tween star Victoria Justice, the PG-13 rated teen flick grossed only $4.4 million.
Next weekend’s new releases include Walt Disney Animation’s “Wreck-it-Ralph,” “Flight” with Denzel Washington and the RZA’s “The Man with the Iron Fists.”
Box office actuals are released on Monday.