It was all about meatballs and metal in movie theaters over the weekend.
"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" made a meal out of the box office with a $35 million debut. While that wasn't enough to beat last year's "Hotel Transylvania," the kid-friendly sequel did score the fourth-largest September opening ever, behind "Transylvania," "Insidious: Chapter 2" and "Sweet Home Alabama."
Meanwhile, Metallica's ambitious mix of 3-D concert movie and art film narrative grabbed $1.67 million in 305 IMAX screens. "Metallica Through the Never," from "Predators" director Nimrod Antal, has already beaten the entire theatrical run of 2004's revealing documentary, "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster." The movie features Dane DeHaan in the narrative portions. The 3-D/non-IMAX version will expand nationwide this weekend.
Speaking of expansion, "Meatballs 2" didn't leave many leftovers for the nationwide expansion of "Rush." After a successful debut in New York and Los Angeles, Chris Hemsworth's Formula One racing drama sputtered with just $10.3 million. Despite critical praise, "Rush" had to settle for #3 behind last weekend's #1, "Prisoners."
Hemsworth's fellow Avenger Scarlett Johansson stars opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "Don Jon," which opened even further down the chain at #5. Gordon-Levitt's writer/directorial debut earned $9 million. "Don Jon" has gotten great reviews just like "Rush," but audiences who saw it gave it a CinemaScore of "C+." That stood in contrast to the "A" CinemaScore garnered by the poorly reviewed comedy "Baggage Claim," which opened at #3 to the tune of $9.3 million despite playing in a couple hundred fewer theaters than "Don Jon."
Metallica weren't the only ones with a music-related flick in specialty release. "Muscle Shoals" played in just one location in New York, where the Sundance documentary grabbed $14,000. Also on the limited release front, Spanish-language comedy "Instructions Not Included" has now made close to $39 million, making it the highest-grossing foreign language film ever in the U.S., now ahead of Guillermo Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth." The late James Gandolfini's "Enough Said" made $2.1 million as it added 223 theaters over the weekend.
"Metallica Through the Never" will have to give up some IMAX spots to Sandra Bullock's "Gravity," which has set the social media world ablaze among movie reporters and critics. "Through the Never" offers a look at the new Harry Osborn from next year's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." Audiences don't know a lot about DeHaan's comic book chops, but the concert film will expand alongside the debut of "Runner Runner," featuring a comic movie veteran. Onetime Daredevil and future Batman Ben Affleck stars in "Runner" alongside Justin Timberlake.