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‘Hotel Transylvania': Monster Debut Puts It on Pace for $38M Box-Office Weekend

Sony's 1-2 punch of animated "Hotel Transylvania" and sci-fi thriller "Looper" gives box-office a much needed boost 

The animated kids movie “Hotel Transylvania” is on track to post the biggest box office opening in nearly two months, scaring up $11 million in its debut Friday which could translate to a weekend above $38 million.

Sci-fi thriller “Looper,” Sony’s other wide opener, took in $6.9 million Friday and should end the weekend in the $20 million range.

The one-two finish is a coup for the studio. Both movies topped expectations and their numbers give the box office, struggling for more than a month, a much-needed boost. Grosses are running about 20 percent ahead of the comparable weekend last year.

Also read: 'Hotel Transylvania' Review: Hey, This Sucker Is Really Funny

Sony has “Hotel Transylvania” in 3,349 theaters, making it the weekend's widest release. Women and kids under 18 years old gave it an “A” CinemaScore; it received an “A-” overall.

Friday's haul gives it a good chance to be the biggest opening weekend since “Bourne Legacy” took in $38.1 million back on Aug. 10-12. It would also beat out the previous best September debut, which was  posted by “Sweet Home Alabama” with a $35.6 million take in 2002.

"Hotel Transylvania" features the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Fran Drescher, Molly Shannon, Cee Lo Green and Jon Lovitz. Genndy Tartakovsky, who executive-produced the TV series "Star Wars: Clone Wars," directs.

Sony TriStar has Film District's “Looper,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, in 2,992 theaters. Audiences gave it a “B” CinemaScore.

Also read: 'Looper' Review: Stylish Time-Travel Tale That Loses Race With Clock

The weekend’s other wide opener, Fox’s inspirational school drama “Won’t Back Down,” failed to connect. It took in $921,000 and will struggle to hit $3 million for the weekend.

Universal debuted its musical comedy "Pitch Perfect" in just 350 screens, hoping to get a boost ahead of its wide opening next week. It took in a $1.5 million Friday, a $5,230 per-screen average, which should give it around $4 million for the weekend.

Three films in their second week held the third, fourth and fifth slots. Last week’s No. 1 film, Open Road’s cop drama “End of Watch,” took in $2.4 million and is looking at $8 million for the weekend.

Clint Eastwood’s baseball movie “Trouble With the Curve” took in $2.3 million, and will finish with around $7 million for the three days. Summit’s Jennifer Lawrence horror thriller “House at the End of the Street” was in the same range, and should finish with around $6.6 million over the three days.

In its third week, the Weinstein Company's "The Master" took in $787,000 on 856 screens, which projects to a roughly $2.5 million weekend.

Earlier …

Sony is doubling down at the box office this weekend, with sci-fi thriller “Looper” and the animated kids movie “Hotel Transylvania” both hitting theaters Friday.

After four consecutive weeks of grosses that trailed last year’s comparable weeks, the box office could use some resuscitation. Sony’s one-two punch should connect and could drive a rebound, say industry analysts, who project three-day totals in the $20 million range for both films. The studio sees "Hotel Transylvania" doing even better than that.

Also debuting this week are “Won’t Back Down,” a drama about school reform from Fox, and the musical comedy “Pitch Perfect,” which Universal is platform-releasing.

The weekend's widest release is the animated "Hotel Transylvania," which Sony TriStar has in 3,349 theaters.

It features the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Fran Drescher, Molly Shannon, Cee Lo Green and Jon Lovitz. Genndy Tartakovsky, who executive- produced the TV series "Star Wars: Clone Wars" directs.

In the movie, Dracula (Sandler), who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy (Samberg) discovers the resort and falls for the count's teen-aged daughter Mavis (Gomez).

The impressive voice cast could have some appeal to adults. This is the first time Sandler has been in theaters — albeit disembodied — since "That's My Boy" cratered during the summer.

It's harder to gauge where is for kids these days. Recent releases "ParaNorman" and "Finding Nemo" underwhelmed, so young audiences could be ready for something fresh or remain distracted. For its part, Sony is bullish on its prospects and compares it to its 2009 release, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," which bowed to $30.3 million. The production budget was $85 million.

Fresh from opening the Toronto International Film Festival, “Looper” arrives with plenty of buzz and a slew of good reviews. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels star in the time-travel saga written and directed by Rian Johnson (“Brick”).

Gordon-Levitt (photo left) plays a hit man plying his trade in the year 2044, taking out targets once they're sent back in time from 2072. It’s not bad work until one of his victims turns out to be a gruff old bruiser (Willis), who is in fact an older version of himself.

The critics love it. Ninety-one percent of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are positive, 83 percent on Movie Review Intelligence, and MetaCritics gives it an 85 rating.

R-rated sci-fi films, particularly originals, often play to a limited crowd, but the presence of  the veteran Willis and emerging star Gordon-Levitt could broaden the film's demographic reach. Comparable original sci-fi openings include last year's "Source Code" ($14.8 million opening) and "The Adjustment Bureau" ($21.2 million). 

The studio has it in 2,992 theaters. The production budget on the film is reportedly $30 million.

Universal is trying something different with “Pitch Perfect.” The PG-13-rated musical comedy stars Anna Kendrick as the new voice on her school’s all-girl a cappella singing group, determined to update the set-list with more up-to-date music. Rebel Wilson (photo left) co-stars and Jason Moore directs.

In a bid to build on the early buzz on "Pitch Perfect," the studio is rolling out the PG-13-rated comedy at 335 locations this week before going wide next weekend. More typically, a studio would sneak preview a movie the weekend before its wide opening.

"This one has sleeper written all over it," Boxoffice.com editor-in-chief Phil Contrino told TheWrap Thursday. He pointed out that Facebook "likes" for the film have spiked in the past week.

Also read: Bummer 2012 Box-Office Raises Critical Questions for Movie Biz

"People like to think they're discovering a new movie and tell their friends about it," he said, "and this kind of limited opening, providing the movie connects, will allow them to do just that."

Anything over $2 million for the weekend would provide a solid launch pad for "Pitch Perfect" next weekend.

"Pitch Perfect" was developed at Universal and is co-financed by Universal and Paul Brooks’ Gold Circle Films.  Brooks produced alongside Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman for their Brownstone Productions company. The production budget was $17 million.

Fox’s PG-13–rated drama “Won’t Back Down” has generated plenty of heat, but it appears unlikely that will translate into ticket sales.

It stars Viola Davis (“The Help”) and Maggie Gyllenhaal in the tale of two single mothers, one a teacher, trying to transform their children’s elementary charter school in Pittsburgh. In the film, the two women utilize the new "parent trigger" law that allows parents and teachers to reclaim failing schools.

Fox hosted scores of word-of-mouth screenings across the country, in addition to special events at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions. The film has drawn the wrath of teachers, disturbed by the film's portrayal of the union as uncaring bureaucrats.

Most critics don't care for it. Just 35 percent of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are positive, 44 percent at Movie Review Intelligence.

The film, produced for a reported $19 million, was financed by billionaire Phil Anschutz's Walden Media. which was also involved with "Waiting for 'Superman."  Older women are the target demo for the film, which analysts see doing around $5 million over the three days. it will be at 2,515 locations.