Here's your weekend box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. Paranormal Activity 4 - $30.2 million
2. Argo - $16.6 million
3. Hotel Transylvania - $13.5 million
4. Taken 2 - $13.4 million
5. Alex Cross - $11.7 million
6. Sinister - $9.0 million
7. Here Comes the Boom - $8.5 million
8. Pitch Perfect - $7.0 million
9. Frankenweenie - $4.4 million
10. Looper - $4.2 million
The Big Stories
To suggest that this weekend's haul for the latest in the annual Paranormal Activity series was disappointing would be just stupid. Looking at the negative side, part four's opening was down 35% from last year's $52.5 million, which just happened to be the highest October weekend of all time. The new one's $30.2 million still places it in the top 20. In the grander scheme of things, this is a franchise that has cost just north of $13 million. The entire franchise. As of this weekend, the worldwide gross of the four movies stands at around $620 million. It will be around three quarters of a billion by the end of its run. The Saw series, which was supplanted like an old girlfriend for a new model, grossed over $873 million worldwide over the course of seven films in seven years. Though the grosses may have sagged a bit, the profits are still high and we'll likely be talking about it overtaking Saw's numbers next October.
Argo Praise Yourself
Last week we reported how Ben Affleck's Argo received the rare "A+" rating from Cinemascore. Only 17 films prior to it had received the top rating amongst moviegoers and only four of them had failed to reach $100 million. (Two of those were the faith-based entries Soul Surfer and Courageous.) Now it looks like Argo may be on its way to join those ranks as well. With a staggeringly low drop of just 14.6%, word of mouth has evidently kicked in that this is the movie of choice to see right now. The smallest second weekend drops of wide releases this year prior to Argo were as follows:
Moonrise Kingdom (-8.3%), 2016: Obama's America (-13.8%), To Rome with Love (-20.6%), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (-27.4%), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (-29.8%), Titanic 3D (-31%), What to Expect When You're Expecting (-32.4%), The Secret World of Arrietty (-32.5%), Premium Rush (-34.1%), The Odd Life of Timothy Green (-34.2%)
That is a list consisting though of "wide" releases not even reaching 1,000 screens and only one film to open to more than $12 million. Argo's drop looks even more impressive when you consider films that opened on more than 3,000 screens and at least $12 million.
Argo (-14.6%), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (27.4%), Hotel Transylvania (-36.4%), ParaNorman (-38.7%), Mirror Mirror (-38.8%), Trouble with the Curve (-40.2%), Ted (-40.8%), Looper (-41.8%), House at the End of the Street (-42%), The Three Stooges (-42.6%)
OK, so we rounded up Looper's 2,993 screens (another solid WOM hit) that will cross $60 million domestically this week. But how about that Argo drop? Besting the top drops in its class by over 12% and the nearest "adult" title by over 25%. This is the best non-holiday wide release drop for a film over 3,000 screens since Puss in Boots last November got off to a "disappointing" $34 million and came back the next weekend with a 3% fall to $33 million. (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol dropped a mere 0.5% over the weekends that included Christmas and New Year's.) It would not be shocking if Argo actually claimed the top spot at the box office in its third weekend. Though it might take the aggressive marketing of Open Road's Silent Hill: Revelation to fall flat over the pre-Halloween weekend.
Alex Cross gets Tyler Perry'ed
Despite the film being the 10th worst-reviewed film at Rotten Tomatoes amongst wide releases in 2012, Cinemascore audiences gave the new Tyler Perry/Rob Cohen Alex Cross reboot an "A." Nothing like making Argo's grade "slightly better than Laserblast" as Leonard Maltin might say (via MST3K.) Of course there is always the possibility than moviegoers filling out their scorecards were lying about how much they liked it just like Shawn Edwards did to Tyler Perry this week. But we digress. Kiss the Girls opened to $13.1 million on 2,271 screens back in 1997. Along Came a Spider opened to $16.7 million on 2,530 screens in 2001. Alex Cross registered less than both ($11.7 million) on 2,539 screens.
It is the first time (outside of a cameo in 2009's Star Trek) that Tyler Perry has branched outside of the comfort zone of his own directorial efforts and it was the worst opening of his acting career. Second overall, just besting (for the estimated moment) 2007's Daddy's Little Girls ($11.2 million), which starred Idris Elba, who was originally attached to star as Alex Cross for director David Twohy. Even Madea with all her punching, slapping of children and chainsawing could not equal the level of violence in this PG-13 offering and it is hardly a film that is going to win him any new fans. When Tyler Perry has made an appearance in the dress his films have averaged $59.5 million total gross in the U.S. Out of the dress he averages $45 million. This year's Good Deeds even managed to start with over $15 million. That film also received an "A" from Cinemascore and dropped 54.8% in its second weekend. Expect an even higher one for Alex Cross next week as it ultimately struggles to reach the $30 million mark.