Last year it was the period between January and May that looked dismal at the box office, while things picked up during the summer. This year the reverse proved to be the case. While the summer box office wound up 3 percent behind last year, business was so good at the beginning of the year that revenue remains 3.58 percent ahead of 2011 while attendance is ahead 2.42 percent. Last weekend saw Lionsgate's Jewish-themed horror flick The Possession open in first place with $17.7 million (or $21.1 million over the four-day holiday). While that figure was ahead of last year's No. 1, The Help , which earned $14.6 million (or $19.9 million over the four days), The Help was already in its fourth week by the Labor Day holiday and had amassed a total of $124.3 million by then, on its way to earning $169.7 million. Things don't look as if they'll improve much next weekend, with the debut of Summit Entertainment's The Cold Light of Day, starring Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver. It has already had a sporadic release (beginning last April) overseas, where it has earned just $13.1 million in 27 markets. Also opening is the CBS Films drama The Words, starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, and Zoe Saldana. It was made for about $6 million.

The top ten films over the three-day/four-day weekend, according to final figures compiled by Box Office Mojo (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date) 1. The Possession, Lionsgate, $17,732,480/$21,078,840, (New); 2. Lawless, Weinstein Co. $10,001,982/$12,872,548, 1 Wk. ($15,014,995 -- From Wednesday); 3. The Expendables 2 , Lionsgate, $9,030,381/$11,455,180, 3 Wks. ($68,814,085); 4. The Bourne Legacy , Universal, $7,232,610/$9,314,725, 4 Wks. ($98,313,165); 5. ParaNorman , Focus, $6,572,820/$8,968,840, 3 Wks. ($40,448,026); 6. The Odd Life of Timothy Green , Disney, $6,276,654/$8,564,208, 3 Wks. ($38,441,566); 7. The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros., $6,116,335/$7,997,311, 7 Wks. ($433,311,261); 8. 2016 Obama's America , Rocky Mountain Pictures, $5,608,973/$7,518,204, 8 Wks. ($20,685,234); 9. The Campaign , Warner Bros., $5,710,234/$7,209,263, 4 Wks. ($74,783,927); 10. Hope Springs ,Sony/Columbia, $4,697,097/$6,143,923, 4 Wks. ($53,500,430).

05/09/2012