Here's a stone cold Hollywood fact: Kids like going to the movies. So if you release a big animated movie into a marketplace overstuffed with adult fare and otherwise empty of films that appeal to kids, you're just about guaranteed to have a hit on your hands. Those tykes have to go see something, after all.
And this weekend it was Sony Animation reaping the benefits of this truism, as "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" easily dominated the box office to the tune of $35 million, good enough for the fourth best September debut of all time. Safe to say the public's appetite for animated films just got satisfied.
Unfortunately for Ron Howard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, though, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" was about the only film earning a satisfying result on an otherwise soft weekend at the box office. Despite a massive hype campaign, universally positive reviews and the presence of superstar hunk Chris Hemsworth, Howard's racing drama "Rush" managed just $10.3 million in its debut, good for only third place on the charts.
And it was also disappointing news for Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut "Don Jon." Gordon-Levitt went all out with his publicity push, using just about every possible form of media to promote his comedic examination of the effects of porn on American romance. But despite his best efforts, "Don Jon" topped out in fifth place with an $9 million debut - not bad considering the film's reported $5 million budget, but not great considering Relativity spent an estimated $25 million on its ad campaign. Ouchies.
Next weekend should be interesting, as the literally star-studded Alfonso Cuarón space drama "Gravity" shoots into orbit with a payload that includes massive hype and great reviews, not to mention Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Will that be enough to wrest the box office back from the grip of the five-year-olds currently gorging on "Meatballs?" We'll see.
For now, though, here's this weekend's box office top ten, courtesy of Hollywood.com:
1. "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" - $35m (our review)
2. "Prisoners" - $11.3m (our review)
3. "Rush" - $10.3m (our review)
4. "Baggage Claim" - $9.3m (our review)
5. "Don Jon" - $9m (our review)
6. "Insidious: Chapter 2" - $6.7m (our review)
7. "The Family" - $3.7m (our review)
8. "Instructions Not Included" - $3.4m
9. "We're the Millers" - $2.9m (our review)
10. "Lee Daniels' The Butler" - $2.4m (our review)