That this was a slow weekend is no surprise, since the weekend after Labor Day is routinely one of the slowest of the year. The cessation of the summer movie season, the return to school, and devastating barbecue bloat generally conspire to keep audiences away from theaters. But this was especially bad. Cumulatively, the top twelve releases earned a total of just under $52 million, the most meager weekend total since the corresponding weekend in 2008, a $50.3 million weekend.
When actual ticket sales are taken into account, it looks even worse. In terms of tickets sold, this was the slowest weekend since one in September 2001, two weeks after the devastating terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Of the top ten movies since Friday, not a single one managed to crack $10 million. The film that came closest was The Possession, which racked up its second consecutive number one showing against slim competition. With a decline of 46% from its debut, the Sam Raimi-produced exorcism held better than its genre suggests, grossing an estimated $9.5 million and bringing its total to $33.3 million.
Of the new releases, The Words fared best, but that's not saying too much. Coming in third place behind Lawless, the drama starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, and Jeremy Irons debuted to an estimated $5.0 million from 2,801 locations. The drama took a critical shellacking, but managed to get a B CinemaScore from moviegoers. Additionally, it was both made and acquired quite cheaply, so that's something.
The other wide release didn't do so well even by the lowered standards. The Cold Light of Day played in 1,511 theaters. Given that it stars new Superman Henry Cavill and established actors Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver, you might think the thriller could've made the top ten, but instead it dropped to an estimate of $1.8 million.
That puts The Cold Light of Day in thirteenth place, just ahead of the limited IMAX re-release of Steven Spielberg's classic Raiders of the Lost Ark. Playing at 267 locations, many of which are the much derided smaller digital screens boasting the IMAX brand, brought in an estimated $1.725 million.
Here are the top ten movies in America for the weekend of September 7th-9th:
1. The Possession $9.5 million $33.3 million
2. Lawless $6.0 million $23.5 million
3. The Words $5.0 million New Release
4. The Expendables 2 $4.8 million $75.4 million
5. The Bourne Legacy $4.0 million $103.7 million
6. ParaNorman $3.8 million $45.1 million
7. The Odd Life of Timothy Green $3.7 million $43.0 million
8. The Campaign $3.5 million $79.5 million
9. The Dark Knight Rises $3.3 million $437.8 million
10. 2016 Obama's America $3.3 million $26.1 million
The upcoming Friday will see releases for Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, 3D sequel Resident Evil: Retribution, 3D re-release Finding Nemo, Nicolas Cage thriller Stolen, Josh Radnor's Liberal Arts, and the comedy-drama 10 Years.