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It's another crowded weekend of new releases at the box office and Hollywood would breathe much easier if one or two actually strike a chord with audiences to help the industry out of a longer than usual losing streak.
Last week's success story was the surprise debut of David Ayer's "End of Watch," but it's not really great news when the no. 1 movie in the country opens to only $13.1 million. It's been a good week for distributor Open Road Films, however, as "Watch" has dominated the daily grosses pulling in $17.2 million through Wednesday. The competition is going to get a lot tougher beginning today.
Opening mega-wide, Sony Pictures Animation's "Hotel Transylvania" is expected to make between $27-30 million to win the weekend. The picture has received mixed notices so far, but has done a fair job of selling itself to parents looking for something original to take the kids to (and don't forget those higher 3-D prices as well).
[Check out an interview with "Hotel Transylvania's" Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez embedded at the top of this post.]
Another Sony Pictures release, Rian Johnson's "Looper," should take the second slot with anywhere from $22-24 million. Considering the film's strong reviews (85 on Metacritic and 92% on Rotten Tomatoes), including some raves from the LA Times and Wall Street Journal, "Looper" has a chance to over perform if word of mouth is strong with general audiences. Then again, if it can match it's pre-release polling estimate, however, financiers Endgame and Sony will be very satisfied come Monday morning.
[Read Drew McWeeny's rave review of "Looper."]
Universal Pictures is taking the unusual step of releasing "Pitch Perfect" in extended limited release. "Perfect" will debut in just 335 theaters which technically isn't nationwide. The studio hopes the female-skewing singing comedy will generate strong word of mouth before it expands wide on Oct. 5.
Arriving D.O.A. is 20th Century Fox's "Won't Back Down." The teachers vs. the teachers' union drama starring Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rosie Perez has received mostly negative reviews (and a few stinging ones), but the bigger issue appears to be Fox's uninspired marketing campaign. Awareness and interest is so low most of Fox's competitors will be shocked if "Down" can pull in more than $5 million over the three-day.
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" expands to 102 theaters after a fantastic debut in just New York and Los Angeles last weekend. Summit Entertainment is going slow and steady with the coming of age drama that might just play better with adults than teens.
No matter what the results this weekend, the industry as a whole is hoping the arrival of "Taken 2" can jumpstart moviegoing when it hits theaters a week from today. The sequel to the original Liam Neeson blockbuster is tracking at a staggering $50 million plus debut.
Look for box office updates all weekend on HitFix.