The animated sequel “Hotel Transylvania 2” not only topped the box office when it opened this past weekend, it reportedly set a record for the best opening in September of all time.
“Transylvania,” which centers on Count Dracula (Adam Sandler), his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), and her husband (Andy Samberg) and son (Asher Blinkoff), earned more than $47 million domestically this past weekend. The first film opened in 2012 and was also a financial success.
“The Intern,” which stars Robert De Niro as an older intern to a younger boss (Anne Hathaway), came in second place with a weekend gross of more than $18 million. The film is the newest by Nancy Meyers, who also wrote and directed such movies as “It’s Complicated” and “The Holiday.”
“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” which is the second in a planned trilogy of movies adapted from the “Maze Runner” young adult book series, grossed an additional $14 million this weekend. The film opened on Sept. 18 and is a sequel to the 2014 film “The Maze Runner,” which also did well at the box office in the fall.
The movie “Everest,” which is based on a 1996 incident in which several people died on the mountain, came in fourth and grossed more than $13 million. The movie had opened the previous weekend at IMAX and other large-format theaters and expanded this weekend. It isn’t a great debut for “Everest.”
The movie “Black Mass,” which stars Johnny Depp as criminal James “Whitey” Bulger, came in fifth, grossing more than $11 million. It had opened on Sept. 18.
What led to the big success of “Hotel”? A lack of competition for family audiences was doubtless one factor. Parents most likely aren’t taking their children to see the crime drama “Black Mass”; “The Intern,” which looks like it has some adult humor; or “Everest,” with its no doubt harrowing scenes. The other movie for young audiences right now is “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” and that’s most definitely aimed at teens, with its PG-13 rating warning of “extended sequences of violence and action, some thematic elements, substance use and language.”
With its spooky theme – Frankenstein’s creature and the Phantom of the Opera are supporting characters – “Hotel” no doubt attracted families already excited about Halloween. October is, of course, a natural time for a spooky movie to be released, though some other recent animated offerings like “Frankenweenie” haven’t done well despite coming out in the month of Halloween. (Perhaps recent spooky animated movies that disappointed at the box office like “Monster House” and “Paranorman” would have done better if they’d come out in September or October.)
While we as a culture are far beyond the belief that animated movies are only for kids (take a look at the multiple Oscar Best Picture nominations awarded to Pixar if you're in any doubt), the fact remains that the last high-profile animated release was July’s “Minions” (the film “Shaun the Sheep Movie” was barely noticed by audiences when it came out in August). Families looking for an animated movie to see together no doubt accounted for a large part of the audience for “Hotel” this past weekend.