Snapping a cold spell that stretched back months, the box office got hot with big—and bigger-than-expected—debuts.
The Adam Sandler- and Selena Gomez-voiced Hotel Transylvania smashed records for September, the Bruce Willis-Joseph Gordon-Levitt time-travel flick Looper made very good on its Hollywood-cheap budget and, a week before it's due to open wide, the choral comedy Pitch Perfect crashed the Top 10.
So, no, The Dark Knight Rises won't be the last hit movie ever produced.
With a $43 million Friday-Sunday, per estimates, Hotel Transylvania is the top-grossing No. 1 film since DKR, which opened in mid-July.
The animated-family movie is the biggest September release since Reese Witherspoon's decade-old Sweet Home Alabama bowed with nearly $36 million.
Hotel Transylvania additionally set the new record for biggest single September day, with a $19 million Saturday. (The former high mark, of $14.7 million, also was held by Sweet Home Alabama.)
Looper bowed with $21.2 million, a steep upgrade over Gordon-Levitt's late-summer miss, Premium Rush, and not far off from Willis' late-summer hit, The Expendables 2.
Unlike the latter film's nine-figure budget, Looper reportedly was made for just $30 million.
Pitch Perfect, starring Anna Kendrick, opened eyes with a $5.2 million take from just 335 theaters. Its per-screen average of $15,560 was the fattest of any film, in wide or limited release, reporting grosses on Sunday to the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. The reportedly $17 million film is scheduled to hit 2,800 screens this coming Friday.
Overall, ticket sales were up a whopping 44 percent from last weekend and about 20 percent from last year, per Exhibitor Relations.
Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master ($2.7 million from 856 locations) continued to impress, as did Emma Watson's The Perks of Being a Wallflower ($1.1 million from 102 locations).
Missing out on the fun: Won't Back Down. The charter-school drama/awards-season hopeful with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis flopped in its debut, grossing just $2.7 million at more than 2,500 theaters.
Dredd 3D, meanwhile, served as a reminder of Hollywood's recent dog days. In its second week, the sci-fi redo tumbled from the Top 10, averaging less than $1,000 from each of its theaters. To date, the $50 million movie has made about $21 million worldwide, per BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Here's a complete look at the weekend's top movies, per Friday-Sunday domestic estimates as reported by the studios and Exhibitor Relations: