“Possession,” a low-budget exorcism movie from Lionsgate, has taken control of the Labor Day weekend box office.
The PG-13 thriller is on track to take in around $17.7 million in its first three days and $21.3 million for the entire holiday weekend.
That’s enough to easily top the Weinstein Co.’s “Lawless,” which is looking at $9.6 million for the three days and $12 million over the four days. The Prohibition era crime drama starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy opened Wednesday and should have an overall gross of about $15 million by the end of the weekend.
Meanwhile, the anti-Obama documentary "2016: Obama's America" didn't get much of a bounce from the Republican National Convention and cooled down considerably from its surprise showing last week. It's on pace for $5.3 million for the three days, and $7.2 million over four.
The win by "Possession" means that Lionsgate has had the No. 1 movie in the country for three straight weekends, after "Expendables 2" held the spot for the two previous weekends. Between the two films, Lionsgate has 26% of the overall weekend box office share.
Horrormeister Sam Raimi produced “Possession,” which opened on 2,816 screens. Ole Bornedal (“Nightwatch”) directs Kyra Sedgwick, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Matisyahu.
The marketing campaign for "Possession" targeted horror fans who tend to be young females, and placed a special focus on Hispanic media. The campaign paid off: 59 percent of the audience was female, 54 percent was under the age of 25 and the Hispanic turnout was strong. The film received a "B" CinemaScore, strong for a horror movie.
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. "Possession" was produced for less than $15 million.
On the other end of the performance spectrum, "Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure," the toddler-targeting animated film, is on track for ignominy. It's taken in $407,000 from 2,160 screens, a $188 per-screen average. If it maintains that pace, it will rank as the worst wide opening ever, behind last year's "Creature," which average $217 on 1,507 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 2- to 5-year-olds, who are prompted by the film’s characters to shout, dance and make rhymes during the movie.
In an effort to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the Republican National Convention, Rocky Mountain Pictures put "2016: Obama's America" in 650 additional theaters this weekend. But its per-screen average won't come near last weekend's when its $5,940 was the best of any film in wide release.
“Expendables 2” was headed for third place with a three-day haul of $9.1 million, and $11.5 million for the four days. It’s overall gross is nearing $70 million.
Stop-action animation film "ParaNorman was on track to bring in $6.5 million in its fourth week for Focus Features.
Disney's "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" was on pace for $6.1 million for the three days, $8.2 million over the four.
Warner Bros.' "Dark Knight Rises" raised its domestic gross to $431 million after taking in $5.9 million it its seventh week.
Warner Bros. political comedy "The Campaign" is on pace for a $5.4 million three-day total -- which put it just ahead of "2016: Obama's America" -- in its fourth week.
Sony's "Hope Springs" took in $4.7 million over the three days to up its overall gross to $52 million date after four weeks. The four-day estimate is $6 million.
Disney and Marvel's "The Avengers" crossed the $1.5 billion mark in worldwide grosses, after adding $1.7 million over the three days. Its domestic gross is now $620 million and it has made $882 million overseas.
Theater attendance rebounded Saturday after a very soft Friday but still looks to finish around 5 percent to 10 percent below the same weekend last year. Back-to-school preparation and the onset of football season competed for potential moviegoers' attention.