This stagnant post-Summer weekend was the perfect time and place for ‘The Possession,’ After all, September is where many movies go to die, so isn’t it an appropriate place for a horror movie? With no new competition, it wasn’t a question of whether or not the film was going to grab the number one spot, but how much it was going to make while doing so.

FilmWeekendPer ScreenTotal
1 The Possession

2Lawless$9,674,000$3,350 $11,816,000
3 The Expendables 2$8,800,000 (-34.4)$2,639$66,159,000
4The Bourne Legacy $7,248,000 (-22.4)$2,315 $96,247,000
5 ParaNorman$6,551,000 (-24.2)

$2,124 $38,025,000
6The Odd Life of Timothy Green

$6,055,000 (-15.0)$2,298 $35,900,000
7The Dark Knight Rises $5,880,000 (-18.6)$2,689$431,196,000
8The Campaign $5,445,000 (-27.1)$1,851 $73,022,000
9 2016 Obama’s America$5,103,000 (-21.6)$2,916$18,203,000
10Hope Springs$4,700,000 (-17.9)$1,925$52,057,000


There are few givens in the world of box office reporting, but you can usually rely on wide release horror movies opening well (unless you’re ‘The Apparition,’ apparently). Of course, a solid opening for a horror movie is completely different than a solid opening for most other genres. With a budget of $14 million (pennies!), the $17 million opening weekend for ‘The Possession’ makes it an instant hit. That same number would be seen as a disaster for many releases, but horror is cheap and it has a rabid, built-in audience. For most horror movies, anything above $15 million is a victory. Expect ‘The Possession’ to take a steep drop next week, but this is definitely a victory, albeit a minor one. The true and final victory will come with the film’s DVD sales.

In the second spot, you have the week’s other major release, ‘Lawless.’ A strong cast and a respected director couldn’t overcome the film’s anemic marketing campaign (has a potential prestige film ever been marketed more poorly?), so that $9 million opening, while weak, is also completely expected. ‘Lawless’ needed an Awards push and a Winter release date, but instead, it has been sold as an action movie and abandoned to die in the September wasteland.

While the rest of the top ten can’t boast spectacular numbers, it can boast some surprising staying power. Nothing dropped more than 35% from last week, which shows potential for many of these films to continue playing (and playing well) in the weeks ahead. In order:

The Expendables 2‘ dropped to the third position, but it only fell by 34% for a weekend total of $8 million. With $66 million in the bank and no direct action competition until ‘Looper‘ and ‘Dredd,’ it may actually have a chance of hitting the $100 million mark. At the very least, it’ll surpass the $75 million that this column predicted a week or two ago.

In the number four spot, ‘The Bourne Legacy‘ only dropped 22%, taking in another $7 million for a total of $96 million. Although it’s still paling in comparison to the past few films in the series, crossing the $100 million mark will allow everyone at Universal to save face and start prepping ‘Bourne 5′ (while begging for Matt Damon to return).

After an incredibly weak opening, it looks like ‘ParaNorman‘ has found its legs. It only dropped 24% and added $6 million to its haul for a total of $38 million, which is not bad at all for a movie that, quite frankly, appeared dead on arrival. At this rate, it could make around $60 million, which will be totally respectable for this kind of movie.

However, the strongest legs of the weekend have to go to ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green,’ which dropped a minuscule 15% for a $6 million gross and a $35 million total haul. Not bad for the second kids’ movie in the top ten that initially appeared to be going nowhere fast.

In the number seven spot, ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ dropped 18% and made $5 million for a $431 million total. It may have another $20 million left in it, mainly you just know the folks at Warner Bros. want this to get to $450 million. Meanwhile two political films filled the eight and nine slots: ‘The Campaign‘ broke the $70 million mark and ’2016 Obama’s America’ continued to perform well for a documentary (controversy does breed box office receipts). Finally, the tenth spot was occupied by ‘Hope Springs,’ which, as we predicted when it opened, has had the legs to reach $60-ish million. Never doubt the power of the Streep.

While this column rarely strays outside of the top ten, it would be wrong of us to not mention ‘The Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure,’ the latest project from the creator of ‘The Teletubbies.’ Rather than premiere his creation on daytime television, this “interactive experience” was sent straight to 2,160 theaters…where it averaged $207 per theater…and only made $674,000. This is an important lesson: parents will put up with shrill, horrifying children’s entertainment at home, but don’t ask them to pay $40 for the whole family to go to the theater.

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