With a loonnng-ish and bizarre name as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the bright coloured animated flick went on to do surprisingly well for Sony Pictures Animation on its release four years back. Sony Pictures does not really fall in the same league as Pixar or DreamWorks Animation when it comes to the world of animation, but it has managed to pull in its share of strange and surprise hits with Hotel Transylvania still holding the highest opening weekend figures for the month of September. No wonder, that the studio was willing to bet on a sequel to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. So here comes a name longer than before… Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Relying on the feel-good factor of the first movie and with no other animated movie around, the sequel has started off well, opening with $35 million for the weekend in North America. That is higher than the $30.3 million opening of the 2009 predecessor. Not only are things bright on the earnings side, but there is another area that Sony Pictures Animation has got right, which is the cost side. The production budget of the sequel is infact lower at $78 million as compared to the $100 million budget of the predecessor. Higher opening, lower budget, a dream sequel for any studio! With October offering no animation movies, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is going to benefit from the limited competition, and that could give it long legs to pull beyond the $125 million overall domestic earnings of the first movie. Meatballs are indeed falling thick and fast!
There were three other films that had a wide release this weekend in North America, but they had to take the backseat to the animated flick. In fact, none of the other wide releases managed to get the second spot as well, though they did come close. Prisoners has continued a strong run, dropping 46% in the second weekend, and putting itself between Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and the other newcomers on the box-office. Just below it is the widely-acclaimed Ron Howard movie Rush with a $10.3 million opening. Not great numbers for a sports movie, but then not bad numbers either considering that Formula One is not the most followed sport in North America. For comparison’s sake, the baseball flick 42 released earlier this year opened to $27.5 million. But Rush has got great reviews all around, should have a better international run particularly in countries with enthusiasm for this racing sport, and has a modest production budget of $38 million to recoup. If it features in the awards ceremonies, that could be a bonus!
At the tail of the top five list is the romantic comedy Baggage Claim starring Paula Patton. Its 9.3 million opening would not be the greatest for movies of this genre. But then the buzz wasn’t the strongest and much more could not have been expected. Close at its heels was Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut Don Jon which took in $9 million. The movie has earned great critical reviews, and the opening weekend again needs to be looked at in the backdrop of a measly $6 million production budget. So the humble opening figures still look good for Don Jon, and maybe sets the platform for a talented artist to get a career going behind the cameras as well. Finally, a note on the movie which has had quite an inspired run in the USA and one we are keeping a track of, Instructions Not Included. The movie has grossed $38.6 million in North America so far, making it the highest Spanish-language flick in this part of the world, surpassing Pan’s Labyrinth, and also the fourth-highest grossing foreign language film!
So September ends with a thunder for a few, and a whimper for the others, but it turned out to be not that bad a month after all. October, here we come!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 ($35.0 million)
2. Prisoners ($11.3 million; second weekend)
3. Rush ($10.3 million)
4. Baggage Claim ($9.3 million)
5. Don Jon ($9.0 million)