Box Office Report: 'Hotel Transylvania' Wins Friday, Headed For Record $38 Mil-Plus Debut
"Looper" and musical comedy "Pitch Perfect" also score strong starts; education drama "Won't Back Down" flunks.
The domestic box office surged on Friday thanks to a pair of films from the Sony family -- Hotel Transylvania and Looper.
According to early estimates, Hotel Transylvania -- boasting a voice cast led by Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Selena Gomez -- grossed an estimated $11 million on Friday for a $38 million to $40 million weekend. The 3D toon earned an A- CinemaScore overall, and an A from females and kids under the age of 18.
By all accounts, Hotel Transylvania, costing $85 million to produce, should score the best September opening of all time, beating current record-holder Sweet Home Alabama ($35.6 million) and marking a key victory for Sony's animation division (it will be the unit's top debut).
Looper, directed by Rian Johnson and receiving stellar reviews, grossed $6.9 million on Friday for a $20 million to $21 million weekend. The sci-fi action pic stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis and is being released by Sony's TriStar label in tandem with FilmDistrict and Jim Stern's Endgame Entertainment (Endgame fully financed and produced the time-travel yarn).
Thanks to Hotel Transylvania and Looper, which received a B+ CinemaScore, weekend revenues should be up 20 percent over last year, ending a post-summer losing streak.
Also making headlines on Friday was Universal's limited release Pitch Perfect, about an all-girl a cappella group. The musical comedy, whose cast includes Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow, placed No. 6 on Friday with an estimated $1.8 million from only 335 theaters.
Universal held its largest-ever word-of-mouth screening program for Pitch Perfect, which it co-financed with Paul Brooks' Gold Circle Films. Brooks produced the film alongside Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman.
The news was dismal for Maggie Gyllenhaal-Viola Davis education drama Won't Back Down, which only cleared $921,000 on Friday to come in No. 8. The $15 million film, fully financed and produced by Walden Media, is likely to open in the $3 million range. Twentieth Century Fox is distributing.
Among holdovers, David Ayer's Jake Gyllenhaal-Michael Pena cop drama End of Watch stayed high up on the chart, grossing $2.4 million for an eight-day domestic cume of $20.5 million. The pic should earn $8 million for the weekend, down a narrow 39 percent from opening weekend.