As usual, audiences largely stayed away from movie theaters over Labor Day weekend. Still, supernatural thriller The Possession easily took first place with one of the best debuts ever for the holiday. Lawless was a distant second, while Oogieloves In The BIG Balloon Adventure registered one of the worst nationwide openings ever. For the four-day weekend the Top 12 earned $109.5 million, which is roughly on par with last Labor Day weekend.
The Possession scared up an estimated $17.7 million from 2,816 locations in its first three days in theaters. That's a bit off from recent Lionsgate supernatural horror movies The Last Exorcism ($23 million) and The Haunting in Connecticut ($23 million). Still, for Labor Day weekend this is a very strong start: in fact, the movie's $21.1 million four-day haul would be good for second place all-time among Labor Day openers behind the 2007 Halloween remake ($30.6 million).
This marks the third-straight weekend that Lionsgate has held the number one position, following two-straight weeks with The Expendables 2 on top. Add in the four weekends that The Hunger Games led in March and April, and that makes seven weekends this year that belong to Lionsgate. That's tied with Sony and Universal for the most among any studio this year.
Lionsgate's exit polling indicated that the audience was 59 percent female and 54 percent under the age of 25. They awarded the movie a "B" CinemaScore, which is above-average for the genre (the all-time high is a "B+").
Lawless took second place with $12.9 million over the four-day weekend. That brings its six-day total to $15 million, which is up a bit on Labor Day 2011's The Debt ($14.8 million) but noticeably behind Labor Day 2010's The American ($19.8 million). With a stacked cast that includes Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, it's understandable that some people expected more from this, though it was always going to be held back by its period setting, thick accents, and bland visual palette.
The Expendables 2 fell 33 percent to $9.03 million for the three-day weekend, and off 15 percent to $11.5 million for the four-day frame. Through Monday, the movie has earned $68.8 million, or around $14 million less than the original movie.
The Bourne Legacy eased a light 23 percent to $7.2 million, which was good for fourth place. Add in its Monday gross, and the movie has now earned $98.3 million, and will pass $100 million by the end of the week. It does still look like reaching The Bourne Identity's $121.7 million is going to be tough, which has to be a disappointment for Universal Pictures.
ParaNorman rounded out the Top Five with an estimated $6.57 million (down just 24 percent from last weekend). Its four-day tally is $8.97 million. The movie has now grossed a total of $40.4 million, which is about $14 million less than Coraline had made through the same point.
Falling just 12 percent to $6.28 million, The Odd Life of Timothy Green had the best hold among nationwide releases this weekend. Including Monday, the movie has now earned $38.4 million through three weekends in theaters.
The Dark Knight Rises also had a great hold, dipping 15 percent to $6.1 million. For the four-day weekend, the conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy grossed $8 million, and its total is now at $433.3 million. It's poised to move up to eighth place on the all-time domestic chart by next weekend.
2016 Obama's America expanded to 1,747 locations (up from 1,091 last weekend) but still fell 14 percent to $5.6 million. That 46 percent drop in per-theater average (from $5,966 to $3,211) seems steep, but it's actually good for a divisive political documentary. For example, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 fell 66 percent in second weekend per-theater average. Including Monday, 2016 Obama's America has now earned $20.2 million, and is on pace to ultimately pass Bowling for Columbine ($21.6 million), An Inconvenient Truth ($24.1 million) and Sicko ($24.5 million) to become the second-highest-grossing political documentary ever.
It was pretty obvious that Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure wasn't going to do well, but no one expected it to open this low. The movie earned $443,901 from 2,160 locations this weekend; that tops 2008's Delgo ($511,920) for the worst debut ever for a movie in more than 2,000 theaters. It also had the second-worst per-theater average for a movie in nationwide release at just $206. To put that in perspective, if each location played Oogieloves five times a day on one screen at an average ticket price of $7, that would translate to fewer than two people per showing.