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‘Possession’ Is Weekend’s Top Film on Sales of $9.3 Million

The horror tale “The Possession” led U.S. and Canadian ticket sales for a second-straight weekend, taking in an estimated $9.3 million in one of the slowest three-day movie sales periods in a decade.

The Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. film beat two newcomers. “The Words” was fourth with $4.8 million and “The Cold Light of Day” opened in 13th place with $1.8 million, researcher Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. Among returning films, “Lawless” collected $6 million in its second week of release to place second.

Three-day weekend revenue for the top 12 films slipped 20 percent to $51.9 million from a year earlier, said. Sales of all films showing this weekend brought in an estimated $67.1 million, down 18 percent from a year earlier.

“It was the lowest grossing weekend of the year and one of the lowest of the decade,” Paul Dergarabedian, president of Box-Office, said in an e-mail. “The post-Labor Day weekend is always slow, but with no strong newcomer and little holdover strength as evidenced by the first place movie only earning $9.3 million, the results were less than spectacular.”

“The Possession,” made for about $14 million, has generated $33.2 million since it opened on Aug. 31, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. Sam Raimi, who directed three “Spider-Man” movies and several horror pictures, is the producer.

New Wrinkle

The film adds a new wrinkle to well-trod horror genre by drawing on Jewish folklore for the malevolent spirit that inhabits the body of a young girl. The son of a Hasidic rabbi takes on the task of freeing the child from the spirit, known as a dybbuk. The movie features Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick and hip hop artist Matisyahu as the exorcist.

The Prohibition-era crime story “Lawless,” from Weinstein Co., features Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jessica Chastain, and is based on the true story of the Bondurant brothers, three Virginia moonshiners who smuggled whiskey and battled lawmen during the Great Depression. It’s taken from the book “The Wettest County in the World” and has pulled in $23.5 in the two weeks since its debut.

New Releases

“The Words,” from CBS Films, stars Bradley Cooper as an author who becomes famous after stealing another writer’s work. His new life of celebrity unravels after the real author confronts him. The film also features Jeremy Irons and Zoe Saldana.

In “The Cold Light of Day,” Henry Cavill stars as an American tourist whose family is kidnapped by intelligence agents during a vacation in Spain. Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver co-star. The film, from Lions Gate’s Summit unit, opened in April in Europe and parts of the Middle East.

Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables 2,” also from Lions Gate, had sales of $5 million to finish in third place in its fourth week of release. The picture, a follow-up to the 2010 hit, had taken in $75.6 million since Aug. 17.

Stallone’s Mercenaries

Stallone and his team of mercenaries in the film seek revenge for the murder of one of their comrades. The picture features an all-star list of action heroes including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris.

“ParaNorman,” a 3-D animated children’s film from Laika Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ Focus Features, was fifth with revenue of $4.2 million. The PG-rated comedy-thriller follows a misunderstood boy who can speak to the dead. Kodi Smit-McPhee provides the voice of Norman. Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse co-star.

“The Bourne Legacy,” from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, was sixth with sales of $4 million. The film, the fourth in the Bourne saga, begins a new storyline without the namesake character of the first three films or actor Matt Damon. Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner stars as super-soldier Aaron Cross. Sales since its release five weeks ago total $103.6 million.

Domestic film sales this year have risen 3.3 percent to $7.7 billion, with attendance up 2.1 percent. The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
 1 THE POSSESSION     $9.3    2,834   $3,288   -47    $33.2    2
 2 LAWLESS             6.0    3,138    1,914   -40     23.5    2
 3 THE EXPENDABLES 2   5.0    3,260    1,519   -45     75.6    4
 4 THE WORDS           4.8    2,801    1,696    --      4.8    1
 5 PARANORMAN (3-D)    4.2    2,856    1,469   -36     45.5    4
 6 THE BOURNE LEGACY   4.0    2,766    1,435   -45    103.6    5
 7 TIMOTHY GREEN       3.7    2,717    1,343   -42     43.0    4
 8 THE CAMPAIGN        3.4    2,542    1,329   -41     79.3    5
 9 OBAMA’S AMERICA     3.3    2,017    1,641   -41     26.1    9
10 DARK KNIGHT RISES   3.2    1,987    1,620   -47    437.8    8
11 HOPE SPRINGS        2.8    2,437    1,149   -40     57.5    5
12 PREMIUM RUSH        2.3    2,182    1,059   -42     16.7    3

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $51.9 $65.0 -20

Year-to-date Revenue

2012 2011 YTD YTD Pct. (mln) (mln) Chg. =================================== $7,695 $7,450 +3.3 Year-to-date Attendance: +2.1%

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