After the second biggest summer season in box office history this year, September is proving to be more lucrative than usual. Each weekend this month is up significantly from last year's grosses, and this weekend looks to be no different, with three new movies debuting in wide release, Sony Pictures Animation's Hotel Transylvania 2, Warner Bros.' The Intern and High Top Releasing's The Green Inferno, with the buzzworthy Sicario and Everest also expanding into more theaters. According to the projections from BoxOffice.com, Hotel Transylvania 2 should easily come away with a convincing win, although it's actually tracking less than its predecessor, 2012's Hotel Transylvania.
Hotel Transylvania 2 is projected to take the top spot with $37 million, which isn't too surprising since the animated movie sequel will have the widest release of this trio of newcomers. While we don't have an exact theater count yet, Hotel Transylvania 2 is expected to open in more than 3,600 theaters, behind The Intern's estimated 3,150 theater count and The Green Inferno's 1,500-theater roll out. If Hotel Transylvania 2's $37 million projection is accurate, it will fall short of the original Hotel Transylvania, which earned $42.5 million on its opening weekend in late September 2012. The original film earned an impressive $358.3 million worldwide from an $85 million production budget. Hotel Transylvania 2 brings back original voice cast members Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi and David Spade, with new additions including Keegan Michael Key and Mel Brooks.
The Intern, which boasts a cast lead by A-list stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, is projected to take in $16 million, which will put it in a tight race for second place with last week's winner, The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, which has already earned $30.3 million. A 50% drop is standard for a big-budget movie like The Maze Runner 2, but last year's The Maze Runner only dropped 46.4% in its second week of release. Still, The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials did underperform a bit from its projections, so it should drop to third place with $15.1 million, behind The Intern.
After debuting in over 500 IMAX theaters last weekend, Everest expands nationwide this weekend. This harrowing thriller that recounts a deadly expedition to Mount Everest in 1996, took in $7.5 million from that limited run when it debuted, so we expect it to take in $13.6 million with the expansion. The film has been getting positive reviews from the nation's critics, with a solid 74% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is currently higher than the trio of new releases hitting theaters, although Hotel Transylvania 2 doesn't have an official RT score as of yet. Black Mass will round out the top five with $12.4 million.
While we don't have an exact theater count for the critically-acclaimed thriller Sicario yet, its limited release numbers were so impressive last week that it should be able to crack the top 10 this weekend, even though it isn't going nationwide until October 2. Director Denis Villeneuve's film, which boasts an ensemble cast lead by Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin, earned a whopping $401,288 last weekend from just six theaters, for an astounding $66,881 per-screen average. That per-screen average will most certainly drop a bit, but we're predicting it should take the sixth spot with $8.2 million. The top 10 will be rounded out by The Visit ($7.8 million), The Perfect Guy ($6.1 million), War Room ($3.4 million) and new release The Green Inferno ($3 million).
There are also a slew of indie films opening in limited release that won't crack the top 10, but should perform quite well in theaters. Broad Green Pictures' 99 Homes starring Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, Drafthouse's The Keeping Room starring Hailee Steinfeld and Sam Worthington, A24 Films' Mississippi Grind starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn, Stonewall, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Ashby, starring Mickey Rourke and Emma Roberts are all hitting theaters this weekend. 99 Homes and Mississippi Grind currently have the highest Rotten Tomatoes ratings of all these titles, with both films boasting a 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating and 99 Homes already garnering Oscar buzz after its run on the festival circuit.
Looking ahead to next weekend, 20th Century Fox's The Martian is the only film opening in wide release, although it will contend with Sicario in its nationwide expansion. The Martian has been getting plenty of praise itself leading up to next weekend's release, earning rave reviews after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month. Matt Damon leads an all-star cast including Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean, Michael Peña, Mackenzie Davis, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jeff Daniels in this outer space thriller from director Ridley Scott. On the heels of Everest's successful IMAX-only run, The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, will also debut on Wednesday, September 30 in IMAX, ahead of its nationwide release on October 9. Also opening in limited release is Lionsgate's Freeheld, The Weinstein Company's Shanghai and Well Go USA's Partisan. Be sure to check back on Sunday for the box office estimates, and again next Tuesday for next weekend's predictions. Until then, take a look at our projected top 10 for this weekend at the box office.
PREDICTED WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: