Adam Sandler voices Dracula in the winning 'Hotel Transylvania.'
(Photo: Sony Pictures Animation via AP)
by Scott Bowles, USA TODAY
The animated family film Hotel Transylvania provided a jolt at the box office this weekend, leading all films with a surprisingly strong debut.
The cartoon did $43 million, according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com.
Analysts expected the comedy to do about $25 million. But by Friday the film had done $11 million, and middling reviews didn't stop the Adam Sandler vehicle from cruising to the top spot. While just 41% of critics recommended the movie, about 82% of audiences enjoyed it, according to survey site Rottentomatoes.com.
Transylvania also benefited from a rare dearth of options for kids. The film marked the first new animated film in weeks.
"It's rare we reach a point where younger audiences are underserved these days," says Tim Briody of Boxofficeprophets.com. "But this is one of those times, and Hotel Transylvania is a big beneficiary."
Looper, the sci-fi adventure with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, also performed stronger than expected, taking in $21.2 million, good for second place. Analysts projected $17 million for the time-travel thriller.
But the film earned outstanding reviews - 93% of critics gave it a thumbs-up, along with 91% of audiences, Rottentomatoes says - and could enjoy a strong fall run on word-of-mouth.
The cop drama End of Watch was third with $8 million, followed by the Clint Eastwood drama Trouble with the Curve with $7.5 million. The horror film House at the End of the Street rounded out the top five with $7.2 million. Final figures are due Monday.
Among big-studio films out this weekend, the comedy Pitch Perfect proved the big winner. The film about an all-girl college a capella group opened on only 335 screens but did a whopping $15,560 a screen to collect $5.2 million and sixth place.
The public school drama Won't Back Down did $2.7 million, good for 10th place. Analysts expected at least $5 million for the film, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis.
Revenues are up 3% over the same period last year, according to Hollywood.com.