Worst Movie Weekend In Years: ‘The Words’ Can’t Beat ‘The Possession’ & ‘Lawless’ Holdovers; ‘Cold Light Of Day’ Bombs; Now Anti-Obama Pic #2 Political Documentary

SUNDAY AM,  5TH UPDATE: This is traditionally such a terrible box office Friday through Sunday that Hollywood skeds only low-profile movies. It’s official: the fall film season started with a whimper. It’s the worst grossing weekend of the year and this is also the worst grossing weekend in years. It looks like the entire North American box office might barely add up to $70 million, which is down 13% from last year. The weekend of September 5, 2008 was the last time no films grossed over $10 million. Ouch!

2016 Obama’s America grossed $26.1M by end of today (give or take some bucks) and passed 4 of Michael Moore’s five political documentaries to become the #2 all-time biggest. Only Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, his highly critical examination of the first term of President George W Bush, retains the #1 position with $119.1M. It’s extremely unlikely that 2016 Obama’s America will make even half that. But it now has made more money (not adjusted for inflation or higher ticket prices) than Moore’s Sicko (2007 – $24.5M), Oscar-winner Bowling For Columbine (2002 – $21.5M), and Capitalism: A Love Story (2009 – $14.3M).

Related: Anti-Obama Pic Now Bigger Than 3 Michael Moore Movies
Related: Summer 2012 Ends Weak

Lionsgate has the #1 movie for the 4th weekend in a row – The Possession with an asterisk because its $9.3M grosses are so low.

Among wider release newcomers, CBS Films’ Sundance pickup The Words (2,801 theaters) came behind #2 Lawless from The Weinstein Co and #3 The Expendables 2 from Millenium/Lionsgate with only $4.7M for the weekend. That’s less than the studio’s very modest expectations and tracking for this drama masquerading as an art house pic. It cost only $6M to make (the whole production was shot in 25 days in Montreal), and CBS Films spent just $2M for U.S. only for this pic written and directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. Meanwhile Hollywood has to start asking itself whether one-time People Sexiest Man Alive, Bradley Cooper, really is a draw for female moviegoers. (I think he does better in bromance movies like The Hangover and Limitless and The A Team.  And he shows his acting chops in the upcoming The Place Beyond The Pines and Silver Linings Playbook.) CBS Films spent a very conservative amount to market The Words to only women, and particularly older women. The audience turned out be 58% female, with 78% aged 25+. The film received a ‘B’ Cinemascore. The classy but complex story-within-story-within-story was hard to boil down. But the TV ads focusing on Cooper and Jeremy Irons and barely Zoe Saldana made the storyline seem run-of-the-mill. Why pick this horrid release date? “Because we had limited competition for older females who, though distracted by back to school etc, have no movie targeted at them for several weeks.”

By the way, Warner Bros tells me that The Campaign has been helped to stay in the Top 10 by the recent Republican and Democratic nationa conventions. Clearly moviegoers are starved for comedy.

And the other newcomer, Summit Entertainment’s Bruce Willis-Henry Cavill kidnapping thriller The Cold Light Of Day (1,511 theaters) couldn’t even crack $2M or the Top 10. Not even studio execs expected it to do anything but tank. Talk about a minimal marketing effort: I don’t even recall seeing a single ad for what’s yet another Cavill underwhelmer leading up to Man Of Steel. Summit, now part of Lionsgate, moved around the release date after an initial international run in select territories where it also underperformed. Summit claims it had very limited exposure due to: a 50% equity partner, international licensing andpresale agreements, a comparatively low P&A spend, and Spanish production subsidies. Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri from an original script written by Scott Wiper and John Petro, it was produced by Intrepid Pictures’ Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans.

That 267-venue IMAX exclusive run of Paramount’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark was the #2 matinee Friday and made $1.6M by end of Sunday. Not bad for the re-release of a 30-year-old movie. It’s part of the promotional push for the September 18th Blu-ray release of Steven Spielberg’s and George Lucas’ Indiana Jones: The Complete Collection. (Ah, the rich get richer.) I’m surprised the idiocy of The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull‘s ending didn’t sour filmgoers on the entire Indiana Jones franchise.

Here’s the Top Ten based on weekend estimates:

1. The Possession (Lionsgate) Week 2 [2,834 Runs] PG13
Friday $2.8M, Saturday $4.6M, Weekend $9.3M (-47%), Cume $33.1M

2. Lawless (Weinstein Co) Week 2 [3,138 Runs] R
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $5.9M (-40%), Cume $23.5M

3 The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate) Week 4 [3,260 Runs] R
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $4.9M, Cume $75.6M

2. The Words (CBS Films) New [2,801 Runs] PG13
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $4.7M

5. ParaNorman (Focus Features) Week 4 [2,856 Runs] PG
Friday $838K, Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $4.2M, Cume $45.4M

6. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) Week 5 [2,766 Runs] PG13
Friday $1.1M, Saturday $2.1M, Weekend $4.0M, Cume $103.6M

7. Odd Life Of Timothy Green (Disney) Week 4 [2,717 Runs) PG
Friday $872K, Saturday $1.9M, Weekend $3.6M, Cume $43.0M

8. The Campaign (Warner Bros) Week 5 [2,542 Runs] R
Friday $990K, Saturday $1.7M, Weekend $3.3M, Cume $79.3M

9. 2016 Obama’s America (Rocky Mtn) Week 9 [2,017 Runs] PG
Friday $1.0M, Saturday $1.4M, Weekend $3.3M, Cume $26.1M

10. Dark Knight Rises (Legendary/WB) Week 8 [1,987 Runs] PG13
Friday $853K, Saturday $1.7M, Weekend $3.2M, Cume $437.7M

13. Cold Light Of Day (Summit/Lionsgate) NEW [1,511 Runs] PG13
Friday $637K, Saturday $825K, Weekend $1.8M

14. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (Paramount) NEW [267 IMAX] PG
Friday $434K, Saturday $770K, Weekend $1.6, Cume $246.3M

Comments (98)

  • I think Bradley Cooper is a star. I go to the movie all the time and never saw a trailer or ad for this. Just a poster. People don’t go see movies that aren’t marketed makes them smell a loser, I think. And good for RAIDERS. It’s one of the best movies ever and hope this encourages studios to do this more with these IMAX re-releases. Movies like this are meant to be seen with a crowd and on the big screen.

    Comment by TD — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:16pm PDT  
    • Bradley Cooper is neither an actor or a star. And The Words is AWFUL.

      Comment by jason — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:34pm PDT  
      • Amen. Cooper is awful. Entirely on the surface and not a movie star no matter how badly they try and shove him down our throats.

        Comment by HST — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 7:42pm PDT  
      • I saw that the writer/directors of THE WORDS got hired for a new project. Good luck, whoever made that call. Complete lack of talent.

        Comment by so — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 9:44pm PDT  
    • I agree on the re-releases. I just saw it and it was great to see it on the screen again.

      Comment by Paul Townsend — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:38pm PDT  
    • Instead of IMAX re releases, which dont even fill the entire IMAX screen (even the LieMAX ones.
      The studios need to start re embracing traditional theatre wide re releases.
      Their are audiences out here for the catalog titles in the studios vault, that would bring in a decent amount of money.
      even in todays home video market, ppl still flock to revival house screenings and the few re releases that are done.

      Comment by hollywoodman323 — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 7:02pm PDT  
    • I go to the movies all the time too and I was so sick of seeing The Words trailer. I feel like I’ve been seeing it for 3 years now. I kept thinking when is this thing coming out. For the last two weeks, I’ve been seeing a bus with the poster on it every day. So glad it will be out, done and over with.

      I think this proves once again that people only go to see the movies they are interested in and not for a particular star any more.

      Comment by KSMR — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 7:32pm PDT  
      • You don’t spend $20 million on tv, outdoor and saturate the media with a movie that you expect to do $5 mill – that’s pure spin. The poster promised a romance, the tv promised a thriller – the marketing was a disaster as the press machine does for cbs what it did for mgm

        Comment by Steve Miller — Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 10:53am PDT  
  • Just because “Skull” sucked doesn’t mean that the other movies in the franchise somehow suffered. Raiders is still a fantastic film, no matter how terrible the fourth installment in the series was.

    Comment by Brandon — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:19pm PDT  
  • A slow weekend to close out the summer is ok, neither of the new films cost much

    Comment by Slow Weekend — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:19pm PDT  
  • “But I’m surprised that the sheer idiocy of The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull didn’t sour filmgoers on the entire Indiana Jones franchise.”

    Amen sister!

    Comment by Jameroquai — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:22pm PDT  
  • Please, spare me the cynicism. Raiders is meant to be seen on the big screen. I’m delighted it’s doing well. I can only imagine how wonderful it must be for a father to bring his kid to see the remastered film for the first time. I wish more classics got re-released like this. Seeing Jaws in theaters again was a delight. Had it been playing anywhere near me, I would’ve seen Raiders too.

    Sometimes I think people forget what seeing a truly great movie in a packed theater is like.

    Comment by Ya... — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:24pm PDT  
  • Cavill is a terrible actor and, so far, a big screen dud, with zero presence. Hopefully Zack Snyder can change all that.

    Comment by oop — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:34pm PDT  
    • Ha! I see what you did there. He was OK in the The Tudors. That counts right?

      Comment by marklondon — Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 11:30am PDT  
      • He was the worst actor on Tudors and generally acknowledged by all as such. He was generous in showing his bare ass though, so he gets bonus points for that.

        Comment by Jen — Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 1:23pm PDT  
      • He was terrible on The Tudors, but you’d be forgiven for not noticing that given Rhys Meyers masterclass in Blue Steel Acting throught the whole pitiful thing. He’s pretty and bland, which makes him perfect for Superman; well, at least a Superman directed by that hack Snyder.

        Comment by Jace — Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 4:18pm PDT  
  • Another bomb from Henry Cavill? I don’t think you can quite compare the box office for Immortals to the one for The Cold Light of Day. I’d call Immortals a modest hit.

    Comment by dee — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:37pm PDT  
    • Pretty sure ‘Immortals’ was a hit; making 227 million worldwide on a 75 mill budget.

      Comment by John — Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 6:04am PDT  
  • Immortals wasn’t a bomb, no one expected it to top the box office. Cold light of day looked like a Taken rip-off and terrible, so I don’t fault Henry alone.

    Comment by Solacer — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:38pm PDT  
  • I want Superman to succeed so much. SO MUCH. Why did they have to pick tofu Cavill?!? This is almost as frustrating as whitebread nothing Finnick.

    Comment by headdesk — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:44pm PDT  
  • Re. Crystal Skull:
    Almost $800M box office worldwide not including the initial Bluray release AND always high ratings when aired on cable? I’d say not too many people were THAT soured.

    Comment by Paul Townsend — Friday September 7, 2012 @ 5:45pm PDT  
    • Like all the other Indy fans out there, I saw the movie on opening day with huge expectations – and it was TERRIBLE

      Sure the movie made money – how could it not with that much pent up demand. But people HATED the movie. And for me it did taint the whole franchise.

      Comment by Remote Patrolled — Saturday September 8, 2012 @ 4:13am PDT  
      • Please grow up. A sequel 20 years after the fact isn’t going to retroactively ruin the previous 20 year of enjoying the first 3 movies. You guys are now getting as bad (i.e. pathetic) as the Star Wars nerds. It’s not all in or nothing. Your allowed to not like a film in a series. Just like I don’t like every episode of my favorite TV series or every James Bond movie. How utterly narrow-minded must you be to see Crystal Skull and say “well, now I don’t like Raiders anymore!”

        Using your childish logic, I assume there’s not a single band/singer you like? Every band/singer has a few bad songs, so surely they must keep you from enjoying the good ones?

        Comment by Ya... — Saturday September 8, 2012 @ 12:32pm PDT  
      • Saw it again on TV recently. Enjoyed it. Sorry.

        Comment by marklondon — Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 11:32am PDT  
        • No need to apologize.

          Comment by Gentle Benj — Monday September 10, 2012 @ 11:22am PDT  
      • Please, the franchise was tainted when “Temple of Doom” was released. “Crystal Skull” was merely mediocre. The original is the only film worth watching more than once.

        Comment by Jace — Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 4:16pm PDT  
    • There’s no doubting the box office success of CRYSTAL SKULL. But it could have made $50-200 million more if word of mouth had been good. Even if you parse out the fanboys still recovering from the sight of Shia LeBeouf playing Tarzan, there were still thousands of moviegoers who felt the whole thing was just plain “meh”.

      Comment by Idle Speculator — Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 5:52am PDT  
      • And yet another idiot. “thousands” of fictitious moviegoers now agree with you. It made huge money in a time where that’s not an easy thing. Its the 4th film in the franchise. There will be a 5th.

        Comment by marklondon — Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 11:34am PDT  
        • When is making huge money ever easy?

          Comment by Alan — Monday September 17, 2012 @ 11:34pm PDT  
    • Dude, Crystal Skull sucked. It’s just an awful movie.

      Comment by frank — Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 3:02pm PDT  
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