By Shawn Robbins
2013's third quarter came to a close on Monday, and for the fifth straight month this year improved upon 2012's performance. September banked $572.8 million at the box office, up a hairline 0.2 percent from the same month last year. It marked the second best ever September gross behind 2011's $604.16 million.
FilmDistrict's Insidious Chapter 2 won the month with $69.7 million in its first 18 days of release. Among September's releases, Riddick and Prisoners were in tow with $40.2 million and $39.4 million, respectively. However, August holdovers Lee Daniels' The Butler ($42.0 million) and We're the Millers ($37.9 million) were equally as strong with fantastic word of mouth propelling each flick beyond summer's end. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 also contributed with its $34 million opening weekend. Not to be forgotten is Lionsgate's Spanish comedy sleeper, Instructions Not Included, which tallied an impressive $34.1 million throughout its September expansion.
Attendance-wise, September saw slightly fewer moviegoers visit their local cinema for a second straight year as estimated ticket sales dipped 2.2 percent from 2012's comparable month. That follows last year's 5.7 percent decline from September 2011. Since 1993, only two Septembers (2008 and 2010) have posted lower attendance than this past month.
In fairness, such a slide was generally expected after summer's massive success. Moviegoers are beginning to embrace the theatrical experience on a more consistent basis again, but disposable income is still tight for most Americans.
On the bright side, 2013 as a whole is still pacing ahead of last year by 0.9 percent. The year-to-date domestic box office stands at $8.164 billion, marking the first time in which non-adjusted revenue has eclipsed $8.1 billion before the fourth quarter. That's great news for an industry expecting big things from the upcoming holiday season--not to mention a promising October ahead.
Looking ahead: Last October was built around the dominance of Liam Neeson's Taken 2 (which earned $119 million in its first 27 days), the kind of anticipated sequel that October 2013 lacks. Hotel Transylvania, Looper, Pitch Perfect, Argo, Sinister, and Paranormal Activity 4 all played big roles in the month's $672.39 million market gross last year, a figure that could be tough for October 2013 to reach.
Still, we expect strong box office performances from early awards favorites Gravity (opening October 4) and Captain Phillips (October 11). Following those star-driven thrillers, the Carrie remake (October 18) is this Halloween season's unchallenged horror offering while Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (October 25) will aim to continue that franchise's decade-long success. The current first place flick, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, has no competition for its family audience until November, so expect that sequel to hang around for awhile.
Grosses reported in this article represent September 1-September 30, 2013 unless otherwise noted.
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