September 2015 Box Office Recap: Hotel Transylvania 2, Maze Runner and The Visit leads otherwise quiet month

Yeah, September indeed stays the quietest month of them all. In terms of calendar gross, all releases, inclusive of holdovers, attained a minuscule figure of $625.7 million, with no one film earning over $100 million over that 30 day time frame. September has historically been the quietest month of the year, in terms of both wide releases and holdovers. Some might argue that January is really quiet too, since most studios figured that January is their ideal dumping month, before the moviegoing year starts proper on Valentine’s Day. However, that perception might be about to change, with tons of prospective blockbusters coming next January (unless you suggest that Michael Bay’s films are worth dumping. Or Kungfu Panda 3). Meanwhile, September comes on the heels of two of the quietest weekends of the year, in which this year is no different. August has generally been characterized by a particularly strong first half, before losing lots of steam on the second half. Hence, with that, as well as a bunch of weak new openers (until Hotel Transylvania 2 opened, but that happens to come too late), we get September.

As of the end of September, Year 2015 is at a whopping $8,210.6 million. That’s definitely well ahead of 2014’s $7,732 million (+6.2%), while just a tiny bit ahead of 2013 ($8,173.4 million, +0.5%). Its still running ahead of 2010-2012, so yeah, 2015 is still gearing up to be the biggest year of all time, unless Spectre, Hunger Games, Pixar and Star Wars disappoints big time.

Why paint such a bleak picture, though? Yes, September might be the quietest month of the year, but, yeah, we got the biggest September of all time. In terms of calendar gross. That is outright amazing, but as with all success stories, we got a few disappointments scattered throughout the month. Let’s look at some of the biggest movies of the month, alongside some of the disappointments:

hotel transylvania 2

Hotel Transylvania 2 is the biggest movie of the month, with $55.753 million attained during the calendar month. Despite having only been in theaters for less than a week, it easily beat all other films. Hotel Transylvania 2 is a glorified success by Sony, who has been having a rather rocky year up till now. Hotel Transylvania 2 was barely wishing for the high $30s, especially since animated sequels hardly have the track record of opening bigger than their originals. However, this film defied all odds, fueled by a rather deprived kids marketplace, and opened to a jaw dropping $48.464 million over its opening weekend, easily providing Sandler with one of his biggest openings to date. For those who were saying Sandler hereby made Pixels lose traction, they probably are gonna shush for a sec. there. Okay regardless, it became the biggest opening ever in the month of September, and is tracking to beat its predecessor to become the biggest grossing September movie of all time. Lets not forget, too, that this film is not gonna be really front loaded, especially after looking its second weekend hold, where it merely dropped 31.5% from the previous weekend. Meanwhile, at the time of writing, the animated tale about Dracula and his bunch of oddball friends has earned a massive $101.8 million.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials had to settle for the runner up position, after a rather disappointing run. This YA novel adaptation property had some industry analysts pegging for $50 million, which no matter how bullish, was still possible, especially after all the goodwill the first film in the series received, and its remarkable word of mouth for a film thats an adaptation. However, it merely opened to $30.3 million, down from the $32.5 million the first film attained. Its showing signs of front-loadedness either, so we are probably looking at a gross far below the $100 million mark this time round, if the film continues to hold up as such. Over the month of September, the Maze Runner sequel earn $54.87 million.

maze runner the scorch trials

The last film in the top 3 goes to The Visit, which is really a surprise entry. Had you asked me prior to the month which film I had assume would get the no. 3 spot, I would easily say Black Mass, without any other considerations. The Visit came out of nowhere, and became the biggest horror opening of the year, amidst a otherwise anti-horror market (horror films have not been that lucrative in recent years, especially for original properties conjured up by the minds of geniuses). Luckily, though, M. Night Shyamalan successfully redeemed himself, after a disappointing After Earth further brought aboard haters to his cause. Regardless, The Visit opened to $25.4 million, which is, by the way, bigger than Insidious Chapter 3 ($22.7 million) and Poltergeist ($22.6 million), which is a sequel and spin-off to well received installments yesteryear. We currently have a $53.4 million cumulative gross over the course of the month, and expect that figure to build up just a bit more over the rest of October.

Outside the top 3, The Perfect Guy settled for fourth, with $49.95 million. This opening ($25.9 million) was in line with what No Good Deed managed last year, with $24.25 million cashed in over opening weekend. This figure once again showed just how the African American crowd would gladly turn up for any movie that caters to them, as long as the time is right. This success also closely follows Straight Outta Compton and War Room.

In fifth, Black Mass trudged along with $45.75 million. Over its opening weekend, the Johnny Depp starring vehicle $22.6 million, which is lower than what analysts had pegged, with it opening in the high 20s/low 30s range. To be fair, Black Mass didn’t disappoint, and in fact pre-release expectations were a bit too high to be true. Regardless, the figure was close to The Town’s opening of $23.8 million. However, don’t expect Black Mass to hold up really well, despite Depp’s terrific performance and Oscar buzz, since this film is dropping in the high 40s/low 50% range weekly.

The rest of the top 10 can be glimpsed in the table below. Meanwhile, this same month last year, The Maze Runner was tops, with $60.2 million, or slightly ahead of this year’s sequel. No Good Deed was up next with $47.16 million, while Guardians of the Galaxy grappled another $44.4 million in its second month. The Equalizer was fourth with $40.7 million, while nothing else hit the $35 million mark.

Here’s the top 10 of the month. This isn’t based on the film’s final gross, instead, it signifies how much each film earns over the course of the 30 days in September. Here you go, and as a form of comparison with 2014, I have left it below for you as well:

(Non-holdovers/films which opened in the month of September will be bolded)

Rank Film (2015) Gross Film (2014) Gross
1 Hotel Transylvania 2 $55,753,944 The Maze Runner $60,175,930
2 Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials $54,874,405 No Good Deed $47,158,204
3 The Visit $53,433,210 Guardians of the Galaxy $44,415,094
4 The Perfect Guy $49,950,694 The Equalizer $40,739,832
5 Black Mass $45,752,093 Dolphin Tale 2 $34,068,469
6 War Room $45,033,684 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $24,811,474
7 A Walk in the Woods $27,832,638 This is Where I Leave You $23,824,900
8 Everest $26,919,920 Let’s be Cops $22,507,649
9 Straight Outta Compton $25,030,705 A Walk Among the Tombstones $21,764,505
10 The Intern $23,365,068 If I Stay $19,391,610

And here’s the overall gross managed by all the films combined, in the month of September. Once again, versus 2014:

2015 Accumulative Gross 2014 Accumulative Gross Change
$625,675,929 $517,801,242 +20.8%
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