Could it be that Hollywood's established belief that no film can perform well at the box office during the first weeks of September is no more than a self-fulfilling shibboleth? That would certainly seem to be the case given the over-the-top performances of some of the films debuting in recent weeks. The latest case in point is the performance of Insidious Chapter 2, which opened with an estimated $41 million this weekend -- the second-highest September opening ever, behind last year's Hotel Transylvania, which opened with $42.5 million. But that film opened over the last three days of the month. This film opened on Sept. 13 -- a Friday. Fridays the 13th are days that studio executives reflexively circle on their calendars at the beginning of the year to schedule horror releases. But no horror flick has ever performed as well on a Friday the 13th as the Insidious sequel. (For numbers buffs, the original film did have a number 13 linked to it; it opened with $13 million in April 2011.) The estimated result -- final figures are due to be released later today (Monday) -- falls just short of the $41.9-million opening of The Conjuring in July and burnishes the reputation of director James Wan, who directed both films and has been named to direct the seventh Fast & Furious installment scheduled for release next year. Also performing far better than expected this weekend was the mob comedy The Family, starring Robert De Niro, which earned about $14.5 million. Reviewers trashed the movie and so did audiences -- grading it a C, according to Cinemascore, a bad omen for future weeks. Coming in third was last week's winner, Riddick, which plummeted 63 percent to $7 million. But in its fifth week, the Weinstein Co.'s The Butler continued to impress, landing in fourth place as it added $5.6 million to its domestic gross, which has now crossed $100 million. It edged out Warner Bros.' We're the Millers, which came away with $5.4 million in its sixth week, bringing its gross to $131.6 million.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:
1. Insidious: Chapter 2, $41 million; 2. The Family, $14.5 million; 3. Riddick, $7 million; 4. Lee Daniels' The Butler, $5.58 million; 5. We're the Millers, $5.4 million; 6. Instructions Not Included, $4.25 million; 7. Planes, $3.06 million; 8. One Direction: This Is Us, $2.4 million; 9. Elysium, $2.05 million; 10. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, $1.82 million.