As far off as my predictions seemed this weekend with initial review, they were actually much closer than it appeared outside of what I expected from "Taken 2", which skewed the entire line. The sequel seemed doomed for failure with the terrible reviews it'd received so far, but that was not the case; despite those, the film still managed the third-highest October opening of all time, and strongest ever by a PG-13 rated film. The other new release this weekend, "Frankenweenie", barely clung to the top five, and didn't have quite as strong of a weekend as expected - though it still stayed in the same ballpark.
The overall box office numbers resulted in a nearly $30MM jump from last weekend, getting us back over the $130MM mark for the first time since August 10th, when "The Bourne Legacy" and "The Campaign" both opened.
It seems obvious we need to start with "Taken 2", even though I'm amazed that the film did as well as it did. The films grossed an estimated $50MM this weekend, resulting in the third-highest total for an October release of all-time. The two films ahead of it are "Paranormal Activity 3" ($52MM) and "Jackass 3-D" ($50.3MM). As mentioned, the two films ahead of it are both rated-R releases, so if you want to make the jump, "Taken 2" is the highest-grossing PG-13 October release of all-time. That's a great accomplishment for the film, but the biggest crime here seems to be the fact that "Taken 2" was rated PG-13. I suppose the first film had the same rating, but it just feels like this needs to be a rated-R series. What do I know though, these are now two of the more successful action films of the past decade; clearly the broader audience that this rating could pull in was the right play.
I'll be very curious to see how its second weekend goes, because due to the sub-standard reviews it's received, I can't expect that word of mouth will be very strong with this one. Even with a rough 50%+ drop though, that will (and should) result in at least a $20MM weekend next week. And with a budget of $45MM in which it's already surpassed, everything else is gravy at this point. The first film was respectable overseas, pulling in just over $80MM, for a worldwide gross of just over $225MM. If this film can come anywhere close to replicating those numbers, it seems we might be in store for a "Taken 3" down the road.
Finishing second was last weekend's animated film, "Hotel Transylvania". It grossed $26.3MM, only dropping off 38%. The film has now made $76MM domestically, and just rolled out its international schedule, for an early return of $8MM so far. The $84MM puts it now only $1MM behind its budget of $85MM, and things appear to be in great shape for the film moving forward. This was already the best opening release for a Sony Animated Pictures film, and now only needs $50MM more to surpass it's highest-grossing film, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" ($124MM).
We go next to the third spot, where "Pitch Perfect" maintained its strong run, finally getting a bump in its theater count this weekend to make it a wide release. The film managed $14.7MM, and now has a total gross of $21.6MM, already $4MM more than its budget of $17MM. The film has received strong reviews, and its box office numbers are backing them up. This isn't my cup of tea, but from what I hear, this is one of the funnier comedies of the year so far - if you're into college a cappella themed films, that is.
In fourth this weekend was "Looper", which managed to hang on with $12.4MM. The film dropped off a touch more than "Hotel Transylvania" (41%), but that's still not too bad for an R-rated sci-fi movie. This one has followed amazing reviews so far, and it was nice to see this weekend's strong box office totals reflect that. These totals now put the film at just over $40MM for its total domestic gross. The film had a $30MM budget, so this one is already doing fine. I hope this movie can ride out some decent totals for the next few weeks, just for my own sake. I thought this was one of the better movies of the year, and I want to see it succeed as much as possible.
Rounding out the top five was this weekend's other new release, "Frankenweenie". The film made $11.5MM this weekend, and while that's a touch lower than I would have expected, it surely was rough competition going up against another horror-themed animated feature. And the fact that this one was in black & white - you can't expect too much from it. Still though, it's received strong reviews so far, and I expect this one can hang around in theaters for a while, especially with this being the month for Halloween. Tim Burton fans are typically pretty loyal, and even though the film didn't wow this weekend, I get a feeling it will hold pretty steady for the next few. Its budget is $39MM, so it does have a ways to go to hit that mark, but that's definitely nothing unobtainable. The film fell into place with other stop-motion animated films coming before it, finishing just a few million behind this year's "ParaNorman". From the total grosses of some of these films, it doesn't seem like $39MM is out of the question at all. $50MM seems like a good mark for this film to strive for, probably even able to top that.
As far as notable milestones go, I don't see much, but I did notice that "Resident Evil: Retribution" topped $40MM domestically this weekend. That total isn't incredibly important, but with those numbers, it helped push the film over the $200MM mark worldwide. The film is now the second-highest grossing Resident Evil film ever, still needing about $95MM more to catch Afterlife. But regardless, with its dismal reviews - and only a $65MM budget - $200MM is a huge success for the film. I would imagine we can expect another installment in the near future.
Anyway, here are the full weekend numbers, courtesy of Box Office Mojo: