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2012 Summer Movie Season Started with a Bang, Ended with a Whimper

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend and the end to Summer 2012′s movie season. It started out strong with Marvel’s The Avengers (which Disney expanded into about 1,700 theaters this weekend and added $365K Friday to help its worldwide gross push past $1.5B sooner) and is now finishing weak on what is traditionally one of the softer weekends of the year. Saturday’s grosses in general were much bigger than Friday’s. Overall moviegoing this Labor Day weekend is $129M, still down -7% from last year.

Lionsgate’s The Possession (2,816 theaters) from horror master Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures opened to $6.0 Friday and $6.8M Saturday (a healthy +11% boost) for a 3-day weekend of $18.8M. Estimate for the 4-day holiday of $22.8M. The production budget also was in the low- to mid-teens. Audiences gave the film a ‘B’ CinemaScore which won’t help or hurt word of mouth. (Though horror genre movies don’t score higher than ‘B+’.) Factoring in The Expendables 2, Lionsgate will be #1 for three weeks in a row if the pic holds. The Possession bills itself as based on a true tale of terror about a man who bought a wine box possessed by a demon at an estate sale in Portland, Oregon in 2001. Jason Haxton wrote a book about his Dibbuk box experiences and helped seed the story virally including a SyFy Channel documentary. Lionsgate also produced a documentary, enlisting Jewish mysticism experts about evil spirits, which debuted on EPIX. Marketing targeted horror fans and young females with a media buy that capitalized on the PG-13 rating and cable TV shows about hauntings. Lionsgate also created a blog called “The Secret Teachings” about so-called real experiences of people who were possessed. Matisyahu, the Jewish musician who stars in the film, cross-promoted the release with his new album. The film also stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick. It was directed by Ole Bornedal (Nightwatch), written by Juliet Snowden & Stiles White, and produced by Raimi along with Robert Tapert and JR Young.

Read more: Deadline

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