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Box Office Report: Moviegoing Plummets to Post 9/11 Levels, 'Possession' Stays No. 1

The Possession Kyra Sedgwick with Madison - H 2012
Diyah Pera/Lionsgate

Bradley Cooper-Zoe Saldana drama "The Words" only manages third-place finish in its debut; "In the Cold Light of Day" tanks.

TORONTO -- The domestic box office brought more sobering news this weekend as revenues tumbled to their worst level in years.

One bright spot: Anti-Barack Obama documentary 2016: Obama's America boosted its cume to north of $26 million to become the No. 2 political doc of all time behind Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119.2 million).

The first weekend after Labor Day is historically light in terms of moviegoing revenues, but this year was worse than usual and the first time since the same weekend in 2008 that no film grossed $10 million or more.

That weekend, revenues reached $68 million; this weekend, they are expected to top out between $65 million and $67 million (final figures won't be available until Monday). If so, that would mark the worst weekend since immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when revenues topped out at $66.5 million the weekend immediatley following the attacks and $59.7 million over the Sept. 21-23 weekend.

If this weekend comes in at $67.2 million, that would put it on par with the same weekend in 2003.

Lionsgate holdover The Possession stayed at No. 1 this weekend, grossing $9.5 million for a 10-day domestic cume of $33.3 million.

John Hillcoat's prohibition-era drama The Weinstein Co.'s Lawless stayed at No. 2 in its second outing, grossing $6 million for a 10-day domestic total of $23.5 million.

STORY: 'The Words': What the Critics Are Saying

Bradley Cooper-Zoe Saldana drama The Words -- drawing a notably older audience -- opened at No. 3, grossing a less-than-expected $5 million for distributor CBS Films.

Receiving a B CinemaScore, The Words played heavily to females (58 percent). Of those buying tickets, 63 percent over the age of 35 and 39 percent over the age of 50. CBS Films believes the movie could have strong legs since older moviegoers don't rush out on opening weekend.

CBS Films acquired domestic rights to The Words for $2 million at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and is hopeful that it will have strong legs, since there is no other female-driven film opening for the rest of September.

In the movie, Cooper plays a writer who pays the price for stealing someone else's work. Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal make their feature directorial debut with The Words, which also stars Olivia Wilde, Jeremy Irons, Ben Barnes and Dennis Quaid.

PHOTOS: Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana Celebrate 'The Words' With Friends

The weekend's other wide opener was Henry Cavill action pic In the Cold Light of Day tanked it is debut, coming in No. 13 for the weekend with an estimated $1.8 million. Summit and co-financing partner Intrepid Pictures had limited financial exposure on the film, between Spanish production rebates and foreign presales.

Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri, Cold Light of Day follows a man whose family is kidnapped by intelligence agents during a weeklong sailing vacation in Spain. The agents are hellbent on recovering a mysterious briefcase, and the husband and father soon finds himself on the run.

Cold Light of Day, also starring Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Echegui and Bruce Willis, cost in the $20 million to $30 million range. Intrepid's Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans produced.

Cooper and Willis both have high-profile films playing at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, which got underway Thursday night with the world premiere of Rian Johnson's Looper, starring Willis opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Cooper stars in two films playing at the festival during the next week: Silver Linings Playbook and The Place Beyond the Pines, which premiered Friday night and sold to Focus Features for a 2013 release.