Weekend Box Office: That’s a Spicy Meatball!

Animation was once again king at the box office this weekend. Meanwhile, two major awards contenders made disappointing debuts.

Four years after the original hit theater screens, ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2‘ opened to a healthy but unspectacular $35 million. While that’s $5 million more than its predecessor, the previous release didn’t include a wide IMAX release. Reviews were not as glowing this time around. The film averages only 59% positive on the Rotten Tomatoes index (the first hit 87%), though audiences gave it an A- CinemaScore rating. The Bill Hader, Anna Farris and Andy Samberg-voiced toon is still the fourth-biggest September weekend gross of all time. Between foreign box office and home video, there’s no way to rule out a ‘Cloudy 3’ in the not so distant future.

Coming in second, last week’s box office Champion ‘Prisoners‘ grossed $11 million, a 46% percent dip from the prior week. That’s a pretty steep drop for the Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal kidnapping thriller, considering that similarly timed releases such as 2010 ‘s ‘The Town’, 2011’s ‘Contagion’ and 2012’s ‘Looper’ all held onto greater second week percentages. Much of this can be attributed to the exceedingly dark subject matter, but with a domestic cumulative gross of nearly $39 million, ‘Prisoners’ should easily make back its budget.

Despite an 88% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, an A- CinemaScore from audiences and red-hot male lead Chris Hemsworth, Ron Howard’s racing drama ‘Rush‘ stalled out with only $10.3 million. This doesn’t come as an enormous shock, since Formula One racing isn’t anywhere near as popular in the United States as it is abroad. Given the promising numbers from Europe ($12+ million and counting), ‘Rush’ seems likely to end up a foreign box office hit.

Bucking scathing reviews and a modest marketing campaign, the Paula Patton rom-com ‘Baggage Claim‘ grossed a moderate but respectable $9.3 million. Despite the critical drubbing, ‘Claim’ earned an A- CinemaScore from audiences, once again illustrating that there is a serious demand for African American-driven material in theaters nationwide.

In somewhat surprising news, despite a glowing critical reception and a flashy marketing blitz, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut ‘Don Jon‘ made just $8.8 million over the weekend. Audiences were not pleased, giving the film a mere C+ CinemaScore. Probably not helping matters is the fact that the movie opened in over 2,400 theaters, whereas titles like this normally do best in staggered releases. However, with a micro-budget of $6 million, this is by no means a disaster for the film.

In limited release news, ‘Metallica Through the Never‘ opened to nearly $1.7 million on only 305 IMAX screens, which bodes well for the concert film with dramatic elements. On just 28 screens, Jakob Kornbluth’s documentary ‘Inequality for All‘ managed a $5,000 per-screen average, grossing an impressive $140,000 for such a tiny release.

Top 10:

1. ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ (Sony) – $35,000,000

2. ‘Prisoners’ (Warner Bros) – $11,270,000

3. ‘Rush’ (Universal) – $10,314,000

4. ‘Baggage Claim” (Fox Searchlight) – $9,300,000

5. ‘Don Jon’ (Relativity) – $9,000,000

6. ‘Insidious: Chapter 2’ (Film District) – $6,747,000

7. ‘The Family’ (Relativity) – $3,674,000

8. ‘Instructions Not Included’ (Lionsgate) – $3,380,000

9. ‘We’re the Millers’ (Warner Bros.) – $2,865,000

10. ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ (The Weinstein Company) – $2,417,000

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