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For a day at least, Hollywood has a rare tie at the top of the weekend box office. Studio estimates reveal that both Open Road Films' "End of Watch" and Relativity Media's "House at the End of the Street" grossed $13 million respectively.
While "House" performed slightly under expectations, it was "End of Watch" that was the weekend's real story. The David Ayer drama was expected to do $9-10 million at best based on pre-release polling, but ended up with the second highest per screen in the top 10. Budgeted at just $7 million and shot in only 22 days, the critically acclaimed picture appears to be the fledgling distributors second hit after "The Grey" this past January.
Jennifer Lawrence's star power couldn't help "House" equal the recent horror thriller opening of "The Possession," but Relativity Media's marketing campaign was hampered by the star being mostly unavailable because of her commitment to shoot "The Hunger Games" sequel "Catching Fire." Relativity says they bought domestic distribution rights for just $2.5 million and will eventually break even when ancillaries are taken into account.
Rounding third base and coming to home plate with just $12.7 million was the Clint Eastwood baseball scouting dramedy "Trouble with the Curve." Eastwood directed films including "Invictus" and "J. Edgar" have debuted to less than that estimate recently ($8.6 and $11.2 million respectively), but Eastwood's last trip in front of the camera was 2009's "Gran Torino" which found $29.4 million when it went wide five weeks into its monster run in theaters. Is Warner Bros. disappointed with the result for "Curve" so far? Considering Eastwood's antics at the Republican National Convention have overshadowed the film itself and the now infamous speech was completely out of their control, probably not. The studio will hope, like many of Eastwood's films, it continues to draw a more adult audience who don't always rush on opening weekend.
"Resident Evil: Retribution" plunged 68.2% from its opening frame for another $6.7 million and $33.4 million domestically. Screen Gems and Sony Pictures can breathe easier knowing that "Retribution" has already grossed over $100 million overseas.
Disappointing in sixth place was Lionsgate's critical favorite "Dredd." The reboot of the British comic book character starring Karl Urban pulled in just $6.3 million. That's not good considering most of those screens were 3D theaters with higher ticket prices. Lionsgate may scratch their heads when trying to figure out what exactly when wrong on Monday morning.
The Weinstein Company expanded "The Master" to 788 screens this weekend and it pulled in another $5 million or $6,345 per theater. That's a solid, but not spectacular expansion for the Paul Thomas Anderson drama. Obviously not an easy sell for a broad moviegoing audience, the studio will hope to ride word of mouth through Oscar season.
Making a strong debut on just four screens in New York and Los Angeles was Summit Entertainment's "The Perks of Being A Wallflower." Stephen Chbosky's cinematic adaptation of his popular novel grossed $244,000 or $61,000 per screen for one of the better limited debuts of the year. The real test for Summit will come on Friday when "Perks" expands nationwide.
Other wide openers on Friday include "Looper," "Won't Back Down" and "Hotel Transylvania." Universal Pictures will send "Pitch Perfect" out on just 300 or so theaters before expanding it on Oct. 5.
Weekend box office actuals are released on Monday.