‘The Words’ Challenges but Box Office Could Go to Devil Again

Lionsgate's exorcism thriller "Possession" looks to repeat  No. 1 finish on potentially slow box-office weekend

The calendar may say otherwise, but it will clearly be fall at the box office this weekend.

Without a sequel or superhero in sight, the cerebral drama “The Words” will battle for the top spot with last week’s No. 1 film, “Possession" (photo below).  Industry analysts give the Lionsgate exorcism thriller a slight edge but they see both films finishing between $6 million and $8 million for the weekend.

Last week’s No. 2 movie, the Weinstein Co.’s bootlegger crime drama “Lawless” could be in the mix at the top, too. The film, starring Shia LeBeouf and Tom Hardy, has made nearly $17 million since opening August 29.

With the start of football season and kids preparing for their return to school, the first weekend in September is typically one of the slowest of the year. Even Hollywood has focused its attention elsewhere, with many industry types heading to film festivals in Venice, Telluride and Toronto this week.

Also read: Naming Names: TheWrap's Winners and Losers at the Summer Box Office

Lionsgate has added screens for "Possession," which will be in 2,834 theaters this weekend. That's up from the 2,816 locations it was in over the Labor Day weekend when it brought in $21.1 million. If it repeats as No. 1, it will be the fourth consecutive week a Lionsgate film has lead at the box office.

Also returning will be "Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure," which last week made history with the worst wide opening ever: $448,000 from 2,160 screens between Friday and Sunday, a $207 per-screen average. There's no word on the screen count this week, but it's a safe bet it will be down.

Also read: 'Oogieloves' Worst-Ever Box Office Bow: 'This Is the Notoriety We Were Looking For'

“The Words,” the week's widest opener with 2,700 screens, stars Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana and Olivia Wilde. The PG-13 tale tells the tale of a writer who, at the peak of his success, discovers the price he must pay for stealing another’s work.

It’s co-written by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, who will be making their directorial debut. Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid and Ben Barnes co-star.

"The Words" won’t shatter any opening weekend records, but CBS Films didn’t have to break the bank to acquire it. It bought the domestic rights for $2 million just before its premiere earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

The critics have been largely unimpressed, but CBS execs believe the film will attract older females and has the potential to play well for several weeks in a market without much direct competition.

Targeting an entirely different demographic — young males — Summit Entertainment is rolling out its PG-13-rated action thriller “The Cold Light of Day” on 1,500 screens.

Also read: Summer Box Office: Despite 'The Avengers' and Batman, 2012 Will Be Flat

Henry Cavill, the British actor who will play Superman in next year’s “Man of Steel,” stars as a young Wall Street trader whose family is kidnapped during a sailing trip in Spain. The trail leads to intelligence agents looking to recover a mysterious briefcase. Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver co-star and Mabrouk El Mechri (“JCVD”) directs.

“Branded,” an R-rated futuristic thriller from Roadside Attractions, will be on around 300 screens. Ed Stoppard, Leelee Sobieski and Jeffrey Tambor star in the tale, set in a dystopian future controlled by corporate brands, of one man’s battle against the forces behind a conspiracy.

Rocky Mountain Pictures is again expanding its documentary "2016: Obama's America," this time up to 2,011 locations from last week's 1,747.

Also read: '2016: Obama's America' Author Dinesh D'Souza Fires Back at AP 'Fact Check'

"2016 Obama's America" has grossed more than $22 million since opening nine weeks ago and is the year's leading documentary moneymaker. It took in a surprising $6.2 million with a glossy $5,940 per-screen average just before the Republican National Convention in Florida. It got no convention bounce, however, and actually declined a bit last weekend when it finished with $5.1 million, a $2,921 per-screen average.

Still, it passed "Bowling for Columbine" on Wednesday and over the next three days could surpass "An Inconvenient Truth" ($24.1 million) and "Sicko" ($24.5 million) as the second-highest-grossing political documentary ever. Michael Moore's 2004 film "Farenheit 9/11," which took in $119 million domestically and $222 million at the worldwide box office, is No. 1.

Among the specialty openings, one of the more intriguing is “Bachelorette,” a raunchy comedy from the Weinstein Company’s multi-platform distribution shingle RADiUS.

It already has some buzz behind it. Last month it became the first pre-theatrical release to top the iTunes Top Movies chart.  It will be on 47 screens.

Directed by first-timer Leslye Headland, the comedy boasts an ensemble cast of well-known actors, including Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson, James Marsden and Adam Scott.

Drawing comparisons to "Bridesmaids" and "The Hangover," it depicts three best friends hell-bent on having perhaps too good a time before their friend’s wedding, threatening the nuptials in the process.

The film was a big hit at Sundance, where RADiUS bought the rights earlier this year. Adam McKay, Will Ferrell and Jessica Elbaum are producers, through their Gary Sanchez Productions. BCDF Pictures’ Brice Del Farra, Claude Dal Farra and Lauren Munsch also produced.