Horror has a way of making an unlit hallway look like a trek through hell, inducing heart attacks though jumping cats, and transforming everyday tools like chainsaws and double-barrel shotguns into instruments of doom. The marketing and posters for Us suggests that Jordan Peele’s new horror flick will do for golden scissors what Get Out did for tea cups, which also happens to be one of selections for the 25 most iconic props from horror movie history! Read on to get your fill of creaky carriages, demonic dolls, and bloody blades.

Aaron Eckhart stars as a doctor able to enter the subconscious minds of possessed patients in this week’s Incarnate, a new take on the old exorcism story. And in this week’s 24 Frames gallery, we give our take on the best and worst exorcism horror movies by Tomatometer. Before we start, some règle de jeu: there are no comedies or non-horrors listed, and only movies with at least 20 reviews qualify. Got it? Good. God help us.

Tumbleweeds blew through North American multiplexes as the marketplace collapsed to its worst level in at least four years thanks to the end of the summer movie season and no new compelling films opening. Last week’s top two films The Possession and Lawless held onto their positions, the new Bradley Cooper film The Words debuted poorly in third, and most holdovers enjoyed relatively low declines. Still, the top ten failed to break $50M and the Top 20 barely inched over the $60M mark making for an ocean of empty seats.

The Possession became the first horror movie in three years to top the box office over back-to-back weekends as the Lionsgate hit scared up an estimated $9.5M in its sophomore session slipping 46%. That was a hold that any fright film would kill for and the fact that it was coming off of a holiday frame made it even more impressive. With no real competition from new releases and a months-long drought of scary movies, the supernatural thriller upped its ten-day total to a terrific $33.3M on its way to possibly $50M+. 2009’s The Final Destination was the last horror movie to rank number one over two straight weekends.

Distributor Lionsgate is on a hot streak and has owned the number one spot for four consecutive weekends now with two frames a piece for Possession and The Expendables 2. Add in the four-week reign that The Hunger Games had back in the spring and the company has held the top spot for eight total frames in 2012 – the most of any studio. It’s also as many as Warner Bros., Fox, and Paramount combined.

The weekend after Labor Day is always one of the slowest frames of the entire year at the North American box office. Kids are back to school, the NFL football season starts, and studios usually avoid opening anything big. But this year was exceptionally poor. It was the first weekend in four years where no film managed to break the $10M mark. The last time was this very session in 2008 when Nicolas Cage’s Bangkok Dangerous opened at number one with a puny $7.8M. The Top 20 sank to only $60.2M that year with this weekend seeing a similar funk at a dreadful $60.6M. If estimates fall when final numbers are reported Monday, this weekend could end up as the worst in nine years. This same frame in 2003 saw Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star bowing in the top spot with $6.7M leading the Top 20 to a sad $59.7M. Some studio muscle will try to revive the box office next weekend with the openings of Sony’s Resident Evil: Retribution and Disney’s 3D release of Finding Nemo. Both open Friday in roughly 2,900 theaters.

The moonshine flick Lawless enjoyed a good hold in its second weekend slipping 40% to an estimated $6M as it retained second place. Released by The Weinstein Co., the Shia LaBeouf pic has grossed a modest $23.5M from a very wide release in 3,138 theaters averaging only $1,913 per location this weekend.

Audiences showed little interest in the new Bradley Cooper drama The Words which opened in third place with an estimated $5M from 2,801 locations for a poor $1,785 average. The PG-13 film co-starring Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid, and Jeremy Irons failed to generate any excitement with moviegoers and bad reviews didn’t help. Older women made up the core audience for the CBS Films release with research showing that 58% of the crowd was female and 78% was 25 and older. A CinemaScore grade of B indicates that the road ahead will not be easy for Words which was acquired at Sundance this year for $2M.

August action sequels rounded out the top five. The Expendables 2 fell 47% to an estimated $4.8M giving Lionsgate $75.4M to date. Universal’s spy thriller The Bourne Legacy cracked the $100M mark over the weekend with an estimated $4M in its fifth round. The Jeremy Renner pic declined by 44% and raised its domestic total to $103.7M. The actor has now been in three different franchise films over the past nine months that reached nine-digit territory with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and The Avengers being the others.

A pair of PG-rated kidpics followed. The animated ParaNorman slipped 42% to an estimated $3.8M while Disney’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green dropped by the same amount to an estimated $3.7M. Totals are $45.1M for the Focus toon and $43M for the Jennifer Garner starrer.

Will Ferrell’s political comedy The Campaign held up well dipping 38% to an estimated $3.5M pushing the sum to $79.5M for Warner Bros. Despite virtually no new competition, The Dark Knight Rises suffered one of the largest drops in the top ten falling 46% to an estimated $3.3M for a domestic cume of $437.8M thus far. Overseas saw another $13M boosting the international total to $603.4M and the global gross to a stunning $1.04 billion. China stands at $42M after only two weeks and will soon become the film’s second biggest offshore market after the U.K. Grossing an identical $3.3M domestically was the hit documentary 2016 Obama?s America which dropped 36% giving the Rocky Mountain release $26.1M so far.

A pair of notable films opened outside of the top ten to varying degrees of success. With zero degrees, Lionsgate’s kidnapping thriller The Cold Light of Day with Henry Cavill and Bruce Willis bowed to dismal results with an estimated $1.8M from 1,511 locations for a wimpy $1,191 average. The leftover title from the company’s acquisition of Summit did not get a big promo push and was quietly slotted into what is always one of the slowest frames of the entire year.

With a new and annoyingly long title, Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark: The IMAX Experience saw a solid bow with an estimated $1.7M from 267 higher-priced IMAX locations for a $6,461 average. Paramount scheduled an exclusive one-week-only run to give fans the big-screen experience and help hype the Blu-ray release of all four Indiana Jones films which hit stores later this month.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $46.9M which was down a sizable 23% from last year when Contagion debuted at number with $22.4M; and down 24% from 2010 when Resident Evil: Afterlife opened on top with $26.7M.

The summer of super heroes came to a close with a pair of new releases taking the top two spots at the North American box office over the four-day Labor Day holiday frame while comic book hits continued their global domination passing new milestones. The horror pic The Possession debuted at number one, the period crime drama Lawless bowed in second place and holdovers filled up the rest of the top ten with mostly small declines thanks to Monday being a holiday. Overall ticket sales were on par with what the industry has seen recently over this summer-ending frame.

Lionsgate enjoyed a solid opening for its supernatural thriller The Possession which spooked up an estimated $21.3M over the long Friday-to-Monday period from 2,816 locations for a sturdy $7,564 per-theater average over four days. The three-day portion was $17.7M. The PG-13 film about a demon living in a creepy box became the first fright film in five years to open at number one over Labor Day weekend. The last was 2007’s Halloween remake with $26.4M over three days and $30.6M over the four-day holiday span. This is the second best opening ever for any film over this holiday after the Michael Myers redo.

As with many creepy thrillers of this type, young females drove the business. Studio research showed that 59% of the audience was female and 54% was under 25. Producer Sam Raimi’s name was heavily promoted and a targeted campaign aimed at Latinos also paid dividends. Reviews were negative and audiences polled by CinemaScore gave a mediocre B grade.

Opening with modest results in second place was the crime drama Lawless with an estimated $13M from 2,888 locations for a mild $4,501 average across four days. $10M came from the three-day portion. The Weinstein Co. release starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Gary Oldman collected $15.1M since its Wednesday launch. Reviews were generally positive but overall consumer interest was never very high for the Prohibition-era tale. The CinemaScore grade was a decent B+.

After its two-week run in the top spot, the action sequel The Expendables 2 dropped to third place with an estimated $11.2M. That gave Lionsgate a cume of $68.6M in 18 days. Universal’s own franchise actioner The Bourne Legacy held up better slipping to an estimated $9.4M over the long weekend upping the cume to $98.4M. It will join its three predecessors in the century club later this week.

PG-rated kidpics followed. The Focus toon ParaNorman dropped to an estimated $8.9M while Disney’s dramedy The Odd Life of Timothy Green jumped up to an estimated $8.5M. With the extra time off, Labor Day weekend is often a popular time for parents to go to the movies with their kids before the new school year gets busy. Totals stand at $40.2M and $38.4M.

Batfans came out again for The Dark Knight Rises which in its seventh round collected an estimated $7.9M propelling the domestic cume to $433.2M. The four-day gross rose 10% compared to last weekend’s three-day score. That was slightly better than the 6% uptick that The Dark Knight posted over Labor Day weekend four years ago when it cracked the half-billion mark. A final North American haul of roughly $450M seems likely for Rises.

Worldwide, the Bane flick cracked the $1 billion mark thanks in part to a solid debut in China this past week. The Christopher Nolan smash collected a rough estimate of $28.5M there across the seven-day opening of Monday-to-Sunday finishing behind the $33.3M launch over the same period for The Amazing Spider-Man which was in 3D and released at the exact same time. For this current weekend in all 64 markets – including Italy which also launched – Rises took in an estimated $46.4M lifting the international take to $574M and the worldwide haul to $1.007 billion edging out the final global gross for 2008’s Joker hit.

Another super hero flick hitting a milestone this weekend was The Avengers which crossed the $1.5 billion barrier – only the third movie in history to reach this level and the first one not from James Cameron. Disney re-released it, along with Brave, into over 1,700 theaters for an extra round of cash pushing the domestic figure to $620.3M. Most theaters split one screen programing showtimes for both films. It was a summer of super heroes as the three comic book behemoths grossed a combined $3.25 billion across the globe. To no surprise, a string of new super hero films are already scheduled on the calendar for the coming years including next summer’s Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel.

After a stellar nationwide expansion last weekend, the political documentary 2016 Obama?s America fizzled out in wider play grossing an estimated $7.1M for a $4,057 average over four days. The Rocky Mountain release widened from 1,091 to 1,747 theaters but saw its three-day weekend gross drop 22% which was a larger decline than many films in the top ten which had no expansion. The bigger footprint and the buzz coming out of last week’s Republican National Convention was expected to give more of a boost. Still, 2016 has grossed an impressive $20.3M to date and may be headed for the neighborhood of $30M which would be enormous for a documentary.

Will Ferrell’s election comedy The Campaign followed with an estimated $7M for a $74.6M cume to date for Warner Bros. Rounding out the top ten with a good hold was Sony’s Hope Springs with an estimated $6M over the long weekend and $53.4M overall.

Finding no takers this weekend was the new kidpic The Oogieloves which debuted outside the Top 20 with a pitiful $602,000, according to estimates, over four days. The G-rated film for pre-schoolers averaged a dismal $279 from 2,160 theaters which averaged out to about three tickets sold per showtime.

Two new films opening in limited release posted respectable numbers. The phone sex comedy For a Good Time, Call… bowed to an estimated $186,000 from 23 sites for a $8,090 average for Focus. Indomina’s martial arts epic Flying Swords of Dragon Gate starring Jet Li took in an estimated $125,000 from 15 of AMC’s IMAX 3D venues averaging $8,333.

With another big movie season coming to an end, the top five domestic blockbusters ended up being The Avengers ($620.3M), The Dark Knight Rises ($433.2M), The Amazing Spider-Man ($260M), Brave ($232.3M), and Ted ($216M).

The top ten films grossed an estimated $100.3M over four days which was up a scant 1% from last year when The Help was number one for a third straight frame with $19.9M; and up 7% from 2010 when The American opened on top with $16.7M.

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This week at the movies, we’ve got bootlegging brothers (Lawless, starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy), a bedeviled box (The Possession, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick), and some bewitching balloons (The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure, featuring Toni Braxton and Christopher Lloyd). What do the critics have to say?



Director John Hillcoat (The Road) has carved out a niche as a filmmaker skilled at wringing empathy from bleak and bloody scenarios. Critics say his latest, Lawless, is brilliantly acted and evocatively atmospheric, which helps it to overcome the script’s sometimes slack narrative. Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy star as Prohibition-era bootleggers whose business is threatened both by rival hooch-makers and crooked cops who want a cut of their profits. A wave of violence ensues. The pundits say Lawless‘ plot occasionally meanders, but it’s viscerally powerful and features fine performances from a top-notch cast. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down co-star Gary Oldman’s best-reviewed movies.)

The Possession


Plenty of horror flicks have ripped off The Exorcist, so The Possession earns points for injecting a dash of Jewish mysticism into the bedeviled-tot subgenre. Otherwise, critics say, this is a pretty ho-hum frightfest, and despite strong performances and smooth direction, it’s both clichéd and light on scares. Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars as a divorced dad who’s unsettled by his young daughter’s obsession with an antique wooden box purchased at a yard sale, which contains a malevolent spirit from Jewish folklore. The pundits say The Possession is a little better than many of its ilk, but it’s still a pretty by-the-numbers supernatural thriller. (Check out 24 Frames for a pictorial rundown of cursed movie items.)

The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure


If you’ve got (really) little kids, there’s a decent chance they’ll enjoy The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure, a colorful, sweet family musical. However, critics say grown-ups may find this odd slice of juvenilia to be overly saccharine and pretty far from toe-tapping. The plot: the Oogieloves are planning a birthday party for a friend, but complications ensue when their magical balloons fly away. Our heroes embark on a quest to retrieve the balloons, and team up with likes of Toni Braxton, Christopher Lloyd, and Cloris Leachman for some musical numbers along the way. The pundits say The Oogieloves is gentle and well-intentioned, but the songs are forgettable and the whole enterprise is more weird than enchanting.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • The Bullet Vanishes, a period mystery about a murder investigation in 1930s China, is at 100 percent.
  • The Ambassador, a gonzo documentary about a man who impersonates a diplomat with the expressed intention of smuggling blood diamonds out of the Central African Republic, is at 74 percent.
  • For a Good Time, Call…, starring Seth Rogen and Ari Graynor in a comedy about a pair of cash-strapped roommates who work as phone-sex operators, is at 66 percent.
  • The Good Doctor, starring Orlando Bloom as a young resident who becomes obsessed with a beautiful patient, is at 60 percent.
  • Tsui Hark‘s The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, starring Jet Li as the leader of a group of fighters defending the people from a tyrannical leader, is at 56 percent.
  • Little Birds, starring Juno Temple and Leslie Mann in a drama about two teenage girls who leave their depressed small town for a turbulent big city experience, is at 50 percent.
  • The Tall Man, starring Jessica Biel in a horror film about a woman who searches frantically for her missing son, is at 44 percent.
  • One Day On Earth, a documentary that chronicles a single day from every country on the planet, is at 43 percent.
  • The Day, starring Shawn Ashmore and Ashley Bell in a post-apocalyptic thriller about a group of friends attempting to fend off cannibals, is at 29 percent.
  • Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy, a drama about a young man who has to decide between clubbing and love, is at six percent.

Finally, props to Richard Dempsy for coming the closest to guessing The Apparition‘s two percent Tomatometer.

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