Adam Sandler’s animated vampire has taken a bite out of the box office yet again.
The sequel Hotel Transylvania 2 made its debut with $47.5 million and set a new record for a September opening, according to studio estimates from Rentrak.
The debut, Sony Pictures Animation’s best, is another monstrous one in the franchise that features a stacked voice cast of Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Mel Brooks, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James and David Spade. The 2012 original film — and previous record holder for the month — made $42.5 million in its first weekend and ultimately racked up $148 million domestically.
Even though it has received mixed reviews and only has a 46% “fresh” rating on aggregate site RottenTomatoes.com, Transylvania 2 capitalizes on a lack of animated family fare and “an audience that is always looking for outside-the-home entertainment,” says Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
Plus, Halloween is in the air, the movie acts as a safe and fun way for kids to dip their toes into the concept of Dracula, the Mummy and Frankenstein, and the actors are a draw as well, adds Dergarabedian. “Adam Sandler’s had his ups and downs in the live-action world. But the animated Adam Sandler is doing extraordinarily well.”
The success is also “great news” for Sony, says Jeff Bock, senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. The studio didn’t have a summer to remember with Aloha, Pixels and Ricki and the Flash, “but this is a step back in the right direction for them.”
Writer/director Nancy Meyers’ The Intern, which stars Robert De Niro as an aging assistant to Anne Hathaway’s e-commerce CEO, opened at No. 2 with an $18.2 million haul fueled by women and older audiences. Its 56% score at Rotten Tomatoes is also iffy, yet moviegoers gave it an A- at CinemaScore.
“This is maybe most perfectly targeted movie in terms of demographics,” says Dergarabedian, noting Hathaway as “this generation’s Julia Roberts” and De Niro’s tailor-made quiet performance.
“These types of comedies can get very precious and hard to take, but this movie is a different breed,” he says. “It’s going to do very well going forward.”
Meyers has a proven track record in terms of longevity at the box office, Bock adds. “Usually, her films cost upwards of $70 million — this cost half of that, and this’ll be a nice chunk of change for Warner Bros.”
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the latest in the young-adult adventure franchise, is still heating up. It finished third with $14 million, followed by the disaster movie Everest with $13.1 million (after a $7.2 million debut last weekend in IMAX theaters) and the Johnny Depp crime drama Black Mass with $11.5 million.
Other notables: Eli Roth’s cannibal horror film The Green Inferno debuted with $3.5 million in limited release, and Sicario, with Emily Blunt as a federal agent in the war on drugs, made $1.8 million after adding 53 screens to its six-theater debut last week. So far, it has earned $2.4 million with an impressive $30,000-per-screen average.
With so many Oscar contenders coming in October and November, Lionsgate jumped the gun “because they knew had something special” with Sicario, says Bock. “A lot of people were skeptical, which is why it’s a brilliant move for them to bring it out in September, when usually you don’t expect to see a good film. When something shows up like Sicario, it’s going to be seen and it’s going to be talked about.”
Final figures are expected Monday, and Dergarabedian anticipates the weekend could be up as much as 25% from a year ago, when the first Maze Runner and Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer were tops. A strong end to September is good news for Hollywood, which is aiming to set a yearly box-office record in 2015.
“This is a fantastic lineup of films that has taken post-summer into a season that’s drawing big audiences,” Dergarabedian says. “This is the way you build a really strong push in the last quarter of the year.”