The Labor Day weekend is shaping up as one of the summer’s softest at the box office, but it doesn’t lack for variety.
Moviegoers will be choosing from a film about the anti-Christ, an anti-Obama documentary, Shia LaBeouf as a bootlegger, Sly Stallone’s bad-ass geezers and a toddler-targeting cartoon that posted one of the worst debuts in history.
Lionsgate’s exorcism thriller “Possession” will cast out two-time champ and studio stablemate “Expendables 2” from the top of the weekend box office, industry analysts say, and do in the Weinstein Company’s new prohibition tale “Lawless,” too.
But it will be close, and should the front-runners falter, the right-wing documentary “2016: Obama’s America” might pull off another shocker and steal the top spot. All of those films are pegged to finish in the $10-million to $13-million range over the four days, and any could claim the top spot.
It’s safe to say that the animated “Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure,” which bowed on 1,500 screens Wednesday with a $40 per-screen average, won’t be in that mix.
In something of a victory lap, Disney is putting Marvel’s “The Avengers” back in 1,700 theaters. Its worldwide gross is nearly $1.5 billion, with about $618 million of that coming from North America.
Horrormeister Sam Raimi produced the PG-13-rated “Possession,” which will open on 2,816 screens. Ole Bornedal (“Nightwatch”) directs Kyra Sedgwick, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Matisyahu.
Lionsgate has had success with its formula of slotting a low-budget horror film into a weekend with little direct competition. The strategy worked in 2010 with “The Last Exorcism, a movie made for less than $2 million that opened to $20 million and wound up with $41 million.
Lionsgate said Thursday that “Possession” is tracking most strongly with young women, Hispanics and African Americans, typically strong demographics for supernatural-themed horror films.
The critics haven’t been kind. Just 27 percent of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were positive, and MetaCritic gives it a 43 rating.
The Weinstein Company has the R-rated “Lawless” on 2,888 screens, making it the weekend’s widest opener. The period crime drama, which was in competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival, took in $1.1 million in its first day of release on Wednesday.
Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain star along with LaBeouf, under the direction of John Hillcoat (“The Road”). Rocker Nick Cave wrote the screenplay and composed the film’s score, which includes several new songs. Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska and Guy Pearce co-star.
The critics are OK with it. Fifty-eight percent of the notices on Movie Review Intelligence and 66 percent on those on Rotten Tomatoes are positive, and it has a 57 MetaCritic rating.
Rocky Mountain Pictures will look to capitalize on the momentum provided by the Republican National Convention as it expands its documentary “2016: Obama’s America” into 1,740 theaters.
The documentary has done steady business during the week since stunning Hollywood with its $6.2 million haul last weekend, during which it posted the best per-screen average of any film in wide release.
Produced for roughly $2.1 million, the film -- with its catchphrase, "Love Him. Hate Him. You Don't Know Him" -- has made $12.4 million since its release nearly eight weeks ago and has surpassed "Bully" as the year's top-earning documentary.
Based on conservative author Dinesh D'Souza's book, "The Roots of Obama's Rage," the documentary purports to show what the nation will be like should President Obama be re-elected and includes an interview with the president's half-brother, George Obama.
The G-rated “Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure” has a shot at recording one of the worst wide-opening weekends ever. Last year’s “Creature” set the standard when it averaged $217 on 1,507 screens. "Oogieloves" is scheduled to be on 2,160 screens.
“Oogieloves” is the brainchild of first-time filmmaker and marketing whiz Kenn Viselmann, who helped bring “The Teletubbies” and “Thomas the Tank Engine” to American TV. The independently distributed film is intended to be interactive for toddlers, who are prompted by the film’s characters to shout, dance and make rhymes during the movie.
Cloris Leachman, Toni Braxton, Christopher Lloyd, Cary Elwes and Chazz Palminteri appear in or do voice work in the film.