New Lows Reached at September Box Office
By John Hamann
September 9, 2012
It was shaping up to be a bad weekend at the box office, but not even my pessimistic self thought it was going to be this bad. Openers were going to be soft: The Words is a movie about writing, and The Cold Light of Day felt like the release was forced (was Summit contractually obligated to release this?). That leaves us with a top 12 whose #1 movie failed to reach $10 million, where the top five films averaged about $5.5 million, and the total of the top 12 films failed to reach $50 million, something that has only happened a number of times in the last decade. This is a new low, people. You are watching a car accident in slow motion.
The weekend following the Labor Day frame is the slowest of the year. The kids are back to school, NFL football season starts, baseball is going strong, and summer is holding on in many parts of North America. It’s a tough part of the year for entertainment. The last couple of weekends have brought us nothing we want to see, not to mention a new low with the release of Oogieloves last weekend. In early September 2008, Bangkok Dangerous was on top despite only grossing $7.8 million over its opening frame. The top 12 films that year took in only $50.3 million. In 2006, it was The Covenant on top of the post-Labor Day frame, earning $8.9 million and leading the top 12 to only $54 million. In 2003, it was Dickie Roberts opening to $6.66 million, and leading the top 12 to $50.5 million. The lowest of the low was following the 9/11 attacks. Over the two weekends that followed that horrible day, the box office earned only $52.2 million and $43.5 million from the top 12 films. Sadly, that’s where the bar is this weekend. Where would the September 7-9, 2012 frame fall in comparison?
Our number one film is the same as last weekend, and it’s the horror film The Possession, which should tell you a lot. The last time a horror film repeated at number one it was The Final Destination in late August and early September of 2009. In its second weekend on top, it earned only $12.4 million. The Possession is our repeat winner this time out, earning only $9.5 million, as it drops 46% versus the $17.7 million three-day gross it earned last weekend. Despite its 38% fresh rating, The Possession is going to do quite well for Lionsgate. It cost only $14 million to make, and could earn as much at $50 million at the North American box office alone. Even if they spent $30 million on marketing, The Possession is still going to come out a winner. So far, this one has earned $33.3 million.
Second is Lawless, the Shia LaBeouf revenge western. After a three-day take of $10 million last weekend, Lawless dropped 40% to $6 million this weekend. Despite a cast that includes LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce, Lawless has never grabbed much of a foothold at the box office. Budget data isn’t known, but with a gross so far of $23.5 million, let’s hope that it didn’t cost too much. Surprisingly, if it ends up earning more than $33.4 million, it will join the top ten highest grossing films ever released by The Weinstein Company.