Argo Wins Weekend Box Office Stunted by Hurricane Sandy Preparations

Argo Wins Weekend Box Office Stunted by Hurricane Sandy PreparationsEast Coast preparation for Hurricane Sandy and a dismal selection of new titles caused the North American box office to take a big hit this weekend. After two weeks of occupying the number two spot, the Ben Affleck hit Argo ascended to first place in week three. The film easily held off newcomers Cloud Atlas, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, Fun Size and Chasing Mavericks, all which had dismal debuts, while Paranormal Activity 4 took a huge blow in its second weekend of release.

The good cheer that has been bestowed upon Argo continued strong in its third weekend as the fact-based Iranian hostage drama dropped a mere 25% on 2,855 theaters to earn an estimated $12.3 million, bringing its domestic total to $60.7 million. The film faces stiff competition over the next few weeks as Skyfall, Flight and Lincoln arrive on the scene and threaten to steal away adult ticket buyers. However, with year-end awards coming up and the Oscar nominations following in January, Argo may sustain itself long enough to cross the $100 million mark.

With Halloween coming up on Wednesday, families kept Hotel Transylvania sitting pretty in second place. Adding 262 screens to its theater count, which now stands at 3,276 (most in 3D), the Adam Sandler-voiced smash eased a slight 27% to check in $9.5 million. After five weeks, the Sony hit has earned a bloody good $130.4 million in domestic sales (Overseas grosses have hit $91 million thus far) and should wind down its run near the $145 million mark.

The first of the quartet of duds that hit the multiplexes this weekend was Warner’s brainy sci-fi epic Cloud Atlas. The ambitious, pricey epic from the Wachowski siblings and German director Tom Twyker got mixed reviews from critics (62% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a dire CinemaScore rating of “C+” from ticket buyers. Debuting on 2,008 screens, the three-hour Tom Hanks/Halle Berry film earned a mediocre $9.4 million for a per-screen average of $4,681 (the best per screen average in the top ten this weekend). With a reported budget north of $100 million (Warner only invested $20 million into the production in exchange for distribution rights in North America), the movie will have to perform strongly overseas in order to recoup its sizable budget.

After debuting to disappointing numbers last weekend, Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 4 collapsed in its second weekend as the movie dropped a deadly 70% to $8.6 million on 3,412 theaters. After ten and a half days of release, Paranormal Activity 4 has earned a mediocre $42.6 million. Given the fact that Halloween is a few days away, those steep drops should continue over the next couple of weeks en route to a final domestic gross near the $55 million mark, roughly half of what Paranormal Activity 3 did last year at this time last year. Overseas has contributed $48 million thus far to the film’s $90 million global gross.

Two films found themselves in a tie for fifth place this weekend. Fox’s sequel hit Taken 2 eased 39% to earn an estimated $8 million on 2,995 screens. After one month, the Liam Neeson flick has earned a big $117.3 million to date. The foreign take for the movie stands at a great $197 million thus far. With nearly $315 million in the bank so far, can Taken 3 be far behind?

Sharing fifth place was another debut, Open Roads’ Silent Hill: Revelation 3D. The belated sequel to the 2006 hit Silent Hill was met with indifference from ticket buyers and critics. Debuting on 2,933 screens – a fair amount being 3D equipped – the $20 million production earned an estimated $8 million.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

7. Here Comes the Boom (Sony) $5.5 million (-35%) $30.6 million to date

8. Sinister (Summit) $5 million (-42.5%) $39.5 million

9. Alex Cross (Summit) $5 million (-55%) $19.3 million

10. Fun Sized (Paramount) $4 million (NEW) $4 million

Next weekend, Disney will release the animated 3D feature Wreck-It Ralph while Paramount will open the Robert Zemeckis and Denzel Washington drama Flight, both of which should battle to take first place from Argo. Universal will also debut the martial arts epic The Man With the Iron Fists starring Russell Crowe.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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