Here are your weekend box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. Taken 2 – $ 50.0 million

2. Hotel Transylvania – $ 26.3 million

3. Pitch Perfect – $ 14.7 million

4. Looper – $ 12.2 million

5. Frankenweenie – $ 11.5 million

6. End of Watch – $ 4.0 million

6. Trouble with the Curve – $ 3.87 million

8. House at the End of the Street – $ 3.69 million

9. The Master – $ 1.84 million

10. Finding Nemo 3-D – $ 1.55 million

The Big Stories

Taken 2 Looks to Set October Records

Just last week we were talking about how the September record had been shattered by Adam Sandler and his animated monsters, and now a week later American audiences nearly set a record for October. Fox’s Taken 2, if estimates hold, will be the third highest grossing October opening in history as it fits into a month that is owned by sequels.

Six of the month’s top seven openers have been just that (Paranormal Activity 3, Jackass 3-D, Scary Movie 3, High School Musical 3, Paranormal Activity 2.) The original Taken was a word-of-mouth hit in 2009, starting with a respectable $ 24.7 million (the 9th highest in January up to then) and quickly multiplied into the 20th highest-grossing film of the year with $ 145 million. Word-of-mouth is not likely to be as kind to this one. The other five October sequels on the list multiplied anywhere from 1.97 to 2.32 (with two of them not even hitting $ 100 million) which would be Taken 2‘s final gross (somewhere between $ 98-116 million); the high end of which would make it just good enough for the October top ten. Meanwhile, by Tuesday, it will already have surpassed the entire gross of Liam Neeson’s other #1 opener of 2012 – the superior The Grey.

Tim Burton’s Corpse Year

People may have been fooled into believing Tim Burton had such a great track record at the box office due to his Batman films and his recent billion-dollar Alice In Wonderland (which in true bright-colored fashion is also his worst effort to date.) They represent three of his six films to gross over $ 100 million domestically. The others are revisions of Sleepy Hollow, Planet of the Apes and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. His 7th highest-grossing film doesn’t just have name recognition but is also one of 2012’s biggest losers, Dark Shadows. Frankenweenie cost just a little more than a fifth of that film’s budget, but could wind up grossing less than Mars Attacks‘ $ 37 million.

Here are the rest of Burton’s films on their first wide release weekends:

Corpse Bride ($ 19.1 million), Big Fish ($ 13.8), Frankenweenie ($ 11.5 on 3005 screens), Mars Attacks! ($ 9.35 / 1955 screens), Sweeney Todd ($ 9.3 / 1249 screens), Beetlejuice ($ 8.0 / 1000 screens), Edward Scissorhands ($ 6.3 / 1023 screens), Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure ($ 4.5 / 829 screens), Ed Wood ($ 1.9 / 623 screens)

Why Aren’t Kids Seeing Good Kids’ Movies?

“We have over 100 million people throughout the world tuned in to see this game. Many of them, of course, with no understanding of the sport itself, but nonetheless fascinated by the flickering images and the bright, pretty colors.”

That Bob Costas line from BASEketball can be applied to so many facets of entertainment (just tune to any television on Nov. 6), but consider how poorly Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie did this weekend. It did not help for Disney to release another classic-monster-inspired children’s film (in black-and-white no less) a week after another animated monster movie, Hotel Transylvania.

There are some sad statistics over the past couple years relating to the disconnect in overwhelming critical support for certain animated and family fare and what is actually being attended. Consider the grosses of the following films:

ParaNorman ($ 54.1 million), Arthur Christmas ($ 46.4), Frankenweenie ($ 35 million estimated), The Pirates! Band of Misfits ($ 31.0), Winnie the Pooh ($ 26.6), The Secret World of Arrietty ($ 19.2)

Each of those films garnered an 85% or higher rating at Rotten Tomatoes amongst critics. Arthur, Winnie and Arrietty were even in the 90s. Only last year’s Best Animated Feature winner, Rango, managed such a high rating and a domestic total of over $ 100 million. Every one of them was better received than Brave, Madagascar 3, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss In Boots and Rio, which ranked from 72-83% on the Tomatometer.

Now consider the success of these films:

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax ($ 214 million), Cars 2 ($ 191.4), Ice Age: Continental Drift ($ 159.1), The Smurfs ($ 142.6),  Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked ($ 133.1), Hotel Transylvania ($ 130 estimated), Hop ($ 108.0), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island ($ 103.8), Gnomeo and Juliet ($ 99.9)

All of them ranked 56% or lower at the aggregate site with their bright, shiny colors. Even last year’s wonderful Muppets reboot could not gross as much as any of these films. Why is no one seeing the good kids’ movies? 

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