Box office: people like movies about scary ghosts that aren’t real

Danielle Bisutti plays a scary ghost in "Insidious: Chapter 2." Credit: Matt Kennedy
Danielle Bisutti plays a scary ghost in “Insidious: Chapter 2.”
Credit: Matt Kennedy

This weekend kicked off with Friday the 13th, which moviegoers celebrated by heaping scores of cash upon “Insidious: Chapter 2.” The sequel to the low budget 2011 hit, it attracted an impressive $41 million over its first three days. By contrast, the first made $54 million in its entire run.

This marks the second ghost film directed by James Wan and starring Patrick Wilson in the last three months to score big winnings. This July, audiences made “The Conjuring” — also about a family plagued by belligerent spirits — into a box office behemoth. Perhaps spookiest of all, both films had exactly the same opening weekend haul, almost to the dollar.

“The Conjuring” was so liked it even avoided the usual massive tumble that occurs in most horror films’ second weekend. Please wait with bated breath for next weekend, when it goes up against the brooding Hugh Jackman mega-drama “Prisoners.”

Second place went to an even grislier, gorier film: “The Family,” starring Robert De Niro as an ex-mafioso in the Witness Relocation Program whose violent family comically terrorizes the small French town in which they’ve been interred. Co-starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones and directed by Luc Besson (who, as a producer, also did fogey action duties with “Taken”), it scared up $14.5 million. The film proved one of De Niro’s better performances of late.

Last weekend’s winner, “Riddick” — a threequel for the character Vin Diesel first played in 2000’s “Pitch Black” — dropped to third place, with only $7 million in ticket sales. The sci-fi thriller cost only $38 million to produce but has so far only accumulated $31 million in sales — not great for an actor who wishes to be back on top.

The top five was rounded out by “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which crossed the $100 million line after five weeks in release; and “We’re the Millers,” which crossed the $130 million line after six weeks.

The surprise Spanish-language dramedy hit “Instructions Not Included” continued to hold in there, ranking number six for the weekend with an additional $4.2 million, bringing its cume to $26.5 million. It is the second highest grossing specialty release of 2013, after “Blue Jasmine,” which itself grossed $1.7 million this weekend to bring its total to $27.8 million.

Meanwhile, after six weekends in release, a couple people are still miraculously seeing “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.” It grossed $1.8 million for tenth place, putting its total to $62 million.


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