Box Office: "Argo" and "Sinister" Open Strong, But "Taken 2" Remains at the Top

What a busy weekend it was at the box office. The overall dollars were down just a touch from last week, but it was very top-heavy. Overall the layout was pretty close to what we expected, though there were a few over- & under-achievers. "Sinister" did quite a bit better than I expected and found itself firmly in the top five, while "Seven Psychopaths" struggled to find an audience and barely hung in the top ten.

It was nice to see a film like "Argo" hit its mark though - one that deserved to be near the top - but it was still "Taken 2" in week-two that claimed the top spot yet again. Drops were a bit larger than expected, so this one will probably start falling pretty fast from here, but for at least two weeks, the film will hold the box office crown.

"Taken 2" earned $22.5MM this weekend, bringing its domestic total up to $86MM. That's already nearly twice its budget of $45MM, and that's without factoring in its international gross. The film had another strong weekend overseas and has now accumulated $132MM, bringing its worldwide gross up to $218MM. The first film had a worldwide gross of $226MM during its entire theater run, so this installment should blow that out of the water. The film still only has a 22% on Rotten Tomatoes, but when movie-goers want action, they want action; there's no stopping them.

I figured the international market would be strong for this film, but I didn't expect that it would be (presumably) breaking $100MM domestically in three weeks. Kudos to FOX though for seeing the potential here, even when many of us didn't.

Finishing in second place this weekend was "Argo". It made $20.1MM, and in my Weekend Releases post, I opined that if the film could break $20MM in its opening weekend, it would be a success. A film targeted mostly to adults that's an R-rated political thriller can be a hard sell, but I'm glad that adult audiences showed up for this one. I checked it out myself on Friday and thought it was great. I'll have a review up soon, but the tension and pacing was perfect the whole way though, and the acting was great by all parties involved. I can see all of the praises the film has received.

The film actually raised its Rotten Tomatoes score over the weekend and is now up to a 94% - easily the best of the new released this weekend. There are no international totals in for the film yet, and something so pro-American will probably be a tough sell outside of a small handful of countries. I don't expect much from the film overseas, but with a budget of $44.5MM, it should be just fine regardless. In terms of Ben Affleck's last directorial effort, "The Town" opened similarly with $23MM. It went on to gross$92MM domestically. The film had a $37MM budget, so there are comparables there, too. I think that with the added buzz of a potential Best Picture nomination this year, it should help the film make some money (I know "The Town" had it too, but it was always mostly fringe; "Argo" seems like a safe bet to be in the top five).

In third was the surprise of the weekend for me, "Sinister". I should have expected the film would do better than my estimated $10MM, considering a film like "The Possession" opened with similar numbers back in August. Both have similar pedigrees, and this one opened during the month of Halloween to boot! I don't know what I was thinking here. Anyway, the film made $18.2MM, edging out "Hotel Transylvania" for the third spot. The film probably won't do anything spectacular overseas (many horror films don't), and we probably won't ever see any awesome milestones for the picture, but that doesn't much matter. The amazing aspect of this film is that it's budget was only $3MM. That means it's already made six times its budget in just three days. I love when small-budget films are able to accomplish things like that; gives me even more respect for what they're doing.

"Sinister" has reviewed pretty well for a film of this nature, and our own Ben Foutch gave the film some solid marks as well. This one probably won't stick around in theaters long after Halloween passes, but it should have a few weeks of solid gains before that.

As mentioned, "Hotel Transylvania" finished in fourth place this weekend, now in its third week. With $17.3MM, the film has now recorded just over $100MM domestically, and mixed with its nearly $50MM overseas, it has a worldwide gross of just over $150MM. With the voice cast the film has, I think I always figured the film would break the $100MM mark, I just didn't think it would be able to do so in three weeks. With a budget of $85MM, its now nearly doubled the investment, and as was mentioned for the previous film, this one should be able to record decent totals for the next few weeks or so, at least.

And in the fifth spot this week, another Kevin James film, the new release "Here Comes the Boom". The film recorded $12MM; a bit less than I expected, but still in the general vicinity. I would imagine that many of the teens who were supposed to check out this one this weekend snuck into "Sinister" instead. Good choice.

No budget is listed for the film, and reviews have dropped a bit since before the weekend. Kevin James will carry this one on his back as far as he can, but I don't expect this title to make much noise from here on out; a PG rating just seems too much to overcome for a film like this.

That's it for the top five though. The quirky "Seven Psychopaths" also opened this weekend but wasn't able to find its audience. It made $4.2MM, and mixed with its strong reviews so far, it should be able to eventually hit its $15MM budget. That won't be seen as a huge success - especially with the cast assembled - but this one will probably do really well in DVD rentals and sales later on. I haven't seen this film yet, but I really want to. I've heard really good things, and I hope it can find a way to make some money.

As far as any milestones go, "Looper" broke $50MM, now well over its $30MM budget. It made $6.3MM this weekend, managing to hold strong in the top ten. It still hasn't seen a release internationally, but already $50MM seems like a strong total for a film like this.

Also, while it's no longer in the top fifteen, "Ice Age: Continental Drift" surpassed the $700MM mark internationally, becoming only the eighth film ever to do so - and first ever animated. It now has $863MM total to its name, good for the third-most this year behind only "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises". Well done for this animated film that looked so bad compared to some of its earlier installments. I'd say it's safe to assume we'll see another Ice Age movie in the near future.

Here are the full numbers this weekend, courtesy of Box Office Mojo: