LIVIN’ IT UP AT HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA — “WHAT A NICE SURPRISE”
The monsters of Hotel Transylvania took a hefty bite out of the box office over the weekend. With a gross of $42.52 million, it was the biggest September opening ever, beating 2002′s Sweet Home Alabama, which opened with $35.65 million. The decade-old film, however, sold more tickets. The average price of admission has risen 37 percent since then, and Hotel’s take was also boosted by 3D surcharges. Still, few in Hollywood would have inspected this gift horse too closely — not after the industry had weathered a month of dreadful business. It was the first weekend since Aug. 24-26 that the box office was up over last year — and it was up nearly 20 percent over 2011′s comparable weekend, when the second week of Warner Bros.’ Dolphin Tale led with $13.91 million. While final figures for most films in the top 10 turned out to be somewhat lower than studio estimates on Sunday, Hotel was not the only film to generate solid business. Debuting in second place, the critically praised time-travel thriller Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, pulled in $20.80 million, while last weekend’s top three leaders had modest drops of around 40 percent. There was no good news for the producers of Won’t Back Down, however. The controversial movie debuted in tenth place with just $2.60 million. On the other hand, Universal platformed Pitch Perfect on just 335 screens, and it landed in sixth place with $5.15 million. It goes into wide release next weekend.