"Argo" finally won the box office battle this weekend in its third week of release, earning an estimated $12.4 million and becoming one of the rare films to debut at a lower position and climb into the number one spot. Strong word of mouth for director/star Ben Affleck's thriller about a real life rescue operation during the 1980 Iran hostage crisis has led to both a surprisingly robust $61 cumulative total as well as early Oscar buzz.
Of course, "Argo" was also helped out by a tragically weak slate of new films, with Andy and Lana Wachowski's "Cloud Atlas" being the biggest bust. The ambitious sci-fi epic from the makers of "The Matrix" cost over $100 million to produce but returned a paltry $9.4 million in its debut weekend despite the presence of A-list stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. And fellow newcomer "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D" fared even worse, barely cracking the top five despite a massive media push.
Meanwhile, last week's winner, "Paranormal Activity 4," slumped all the way to fourth place, as mediocre word of mouth combined with a front-loaded attendance pattern to help ensure that everyone who really wanted to see the horror sequel already did so last week.
Overall, then, it was a slow weekend at the box office, in part due to fears over the impending arrival of Hurricane Sandy on the Eastern seaboard. Combined with a less than inspiring slate of films, the approaching storm convinced many people to stay home, leading to a box office that was down 12% compared to last year's already poor box office total.
Courtesy of Box Office Mojo, here's a full run down of this week's figures:
1. "Argo" - $12.4 (our review)
2. "Hotel Transylvania" - $9.5m (our review)
3. "Cloud Atlas" - $9.4m (our review)
4. "Paranormal Activity 4" - $8.7m
5. (tie) "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D" - $8m (our review)
"Taken 2" - $8m (our review)
7. "Here Comes the Boom" - $5.5m (our review)
8. "Alex Cross" - $5.1m (our review)
9. "Sinister" - $5m (our review)
10. "Fun Size" - $4.1m