After a few painful weeks, it looks like the box office has finally found its legs again. The combined power of 'Hotel Transylvania' and 'Looper' announced the end of the post-Summer doldrums and the start of the true Fall movie season. Sony, who distributed both films, must be the happiest studio in town right now.

FilmWeekendPer ScreenTotal
1 Hotel Transylvania
2Looper$21,200,000$7,086 $21,200,000
3End of Watch$8,000,000 (-39.2)$2,878$26,169,000
4Trouble With the Curve $7,530,000 (-38.1)$2,344 $23,726,000
5 House at the End of the Street$7,154,000 (-41.8)
$2,320 $22,225,000
6Pitch Perfect$5,200,000$15,522 $5,200,000
7Finding Nemo $4,066,000 (-57.8)$1,541$36,475,000
8Resident Evil: Retribution $3,000,000 (-55.2)$1,260 $38,700,000
9 The Master$2,745,000 (-37.5)$3,207$9,633,000
10Won't Back Down$2,700,000$1,074$2,700,000


It's been awhile since the last kid-friendly, CG-animated film and if that $43 million opening for 'Hotel Transylvania' is any indication, family audiences were starving for something to go see. That's a new September opening record, shattering that $35 million record set by 'Sweet Home Alabama' a decade ago (it's also the biggest opening yet for a Sony Pictures Animation release). Much how the typically dead January has become fertile ground for horror releases, it wouldn't be surprising to see September become a place to release animated movies after this.

Although 'Looper' only made half as much as 'Hotel Transylvania,' it's just as impressive. Incredibly smart, independently produced science fiction films typically aren't ready-made hits (even when they star Bruce Willis), so $21 million on the opening weekend is huuuge. It may be just another hit for Willis (still one of our most reliable movie stars), but it's a major step for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and indie darling director Rian Johnson, who has officially graduated into the big leagues. There are few things more exciting than the thought of Johnson having enough clout to make whatever he wants next (not that he's the kind of guy to settle).

The two other new releases this week initially seem to be grossing in the same ballpark, but some basic analysis shows that they're playing different games altogether. Despite opening at number six with a little over $5 million, 'Pitch Perfect' is poised to be a sleeper hit, making an average of $15,522 from only a few hundred theaters. On the other hand, 'Won't Back Down' opening at number ten with only $2.7 million is exactly what it looks like: a bomb. A big one.

All three of last week's new releases held reasonably well, but 'End of Watch' faired the best with $8 million, leading to a total gross of $26 million. It didn't cost too much, so everyone must be reasonably pleased with this. 'Trouble With the Curve' and 'House at the End of the Street' each made around $7 million, taking them to $23 and $22 million, respectively. Like 'End of Watch,' there was limited expectations for both of these, so every million is a bit of a blessing.

The 3D re-release of 'Finding Nemo' dropped to number seven with $4 million and now that it has competition in 'Hotel Transylvania,' it should vanish within a week or two. It'll leave with another $50 million or so on top of its previous 2003 gross, so it's a win for everyone involved.

In spots eight and nine, the war of the Paul Andersons continued. 'Resident Evil: Retribution' dropped another massive 55% and has slowed faster than many of the films in the franchise. $50 million is starting to look a little distant and that's below average for this series, 'The Master' faired a little better, dropping only 37.5% and boasting a higher screen average, but it just doesn't have the big numbers of 'Resident Evil.'

Next week, 'Taken 2' and 'Frankenweenie' will usher us into October.