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A topsy turvy summer at the domestic box office ended on a high note as Lionsgate’s The Possession — inspired by films including The Exorcist — debuted to $21.3 million, the second best Labor Day opening of all time.
Halloween is the top Labor Day opener of all time, bowing to $30.6 million in 2007; Transporter 2 is No. 2, grossing $20.1 million in 2005.
Possession, starring Kyra Sedgwick, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Natasha Calis, cost in the low- to mid-teen millions to produce and was directed by Ole Bornedal.
“The horror audience has been underserved for much of the summer. This movie seemed to grab that audience very nicely,” Lionsgate president of distribution Richie Fay said. “We had a very good marketing plan, and a good playdate.”
The PG-13 film received a B CinemaScore and played heavily to girls and younger women, whom Lionsgate targeted. Females made up 59 percent of the audience, while 54 percent of those buying tickets were younger than 25. The film also is over-indexing in Hispanic Catholic markets.
Overall Labor Day revenues were slightly down from last year (2 percent).
Between Possession and holdoverThe Expendables 2, Lionsgate titles captured 26 percent of the holiday marketplace.
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John Hillcoat‘s Prohibition-era drama Lawless, which opened Wednesday, came in No. 2 for the four-day holiday weekend, grossing $13 million for a solid six day total of $15.1 million.
Lawless, from The Weinstein Co., stars Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce and Mia Wasikowska.
“Our best day was Sunday, which means we have great word of mouth,” The Weinstein Co. president of distribution Erik Lomis said. “Typically, films go down from Saturday to Sunday on Labor Day, and we went up 8 percent.”
Lawless, receiving a B+ CinemaScore, played very well in the South and the West. Roughly 67 percent of the audience was over the age of 25, while males made up 54 percent of those buying tickets.
Anti-Barack Obama documentary 2016: Obama’s America came in No. 9 over the four-day Labor Day weekend, grossing $7.3 million for a cume of $20.4 mllion — the fifth-best domestic cume for a political doc.
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Kids entry The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure tanked in its debut, grossing $601.545 over the four day weekend for dismal screen average of $278 and a six-day cume of $827,134 (like Lawless, Oogieloves opened on Wednesday).
The independently financed and distibuted pic scored the second worst debut of all time behind Delgo ($511,920) and the worst ever in terms of its Friday-Sunday cume ($448,000).
At the specialty box office, phone sex comedy For a Good Time Call opened in 23 theaters in top markets, grossing $186,077 for a per screen average of $8,090.
Focus Features acquired the film at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and said For a Good Time Call’s opening was fueled by females, who made up 70 percent of the audience. Better yet, nearly 70 percent of the film’s audience were between the ages of 18 and 34, a good sign for movie’s playability.
The film, starring Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller and Justin Long, will continue to expand throughout September. Jamie Travis directed.
Among holdovers, IFC Film’s Ira Glass-produced comedy Sleepwalk With Me expanded nicely in its second weekend, grossing $408,987 from 29 theaters for a cume of $498,521 and a location average of $14,103, the best of the long holiday weekend.
Sleepwalk With Me, likewise premiering at Sundance earlier this year, was directed by comedian Mike Birbiglia, who also directed and co-wrote.
In its second weekend, Oscilloscope’s Samsara grossed a solid $113,371 from nine theaters for a location average of $12,597 and cume of $231,620.
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