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Ben Affleck's 'Argo' tops weekend box office

By Todd Cunningham

In its third week of release, Ben Affleck's "Argo" topped a soft weekend box office with $12.3 million as Tom Hanks' sci-fi epic "Cloud Atlas" stayed earthbound in its debut.

Seach: Jennifer Garner's TMI comment on Ben Affleck

"Cloud Atlas" is the first film from Andy and Lana Wachowski -- the  team behind "The Matrix" -- in four years and is among the most expensive independent movies ever. It took in an estimated $9.5 million from 2,008 screens and is in a battle for No. 2, with Sony's "Hotel Transylvania."

It was another strong hold for the animated kids film, which in its fifth week dropped just 27 percent from last week and raised its overall domestic gross to $130 million, best ever for a Sony Pictures Animation film. Paramount's found-footage horror thriller "Paranormal Activity 4,'" which was No. 1 last week with a $32 million opening, took in $8.9 million from 3,412 locations and will finish fourth.

The overall box office was down about 10 percent from the comparable week last year, when "Puss In Boots" won the weekend with $34 million. The East Coast numbers were likely down as potential moviegoers braced for the onset of Hurricane Sandy.

More from TheWrap: Transgendered Lana Wachowski: 'I Made 'Cloud Atlas' to Change Those Who Want to Lynch Me

"Argo," the Iran hostage thriller which Affleck directed and stars in, is a hit for Warner Bros. With a production budget of $44 million, it's domestic total now stands at $60 million. That's just behind the three-week total of Affleck's 2010 film "The Town," but "Argo" is an awards contender and that attention should push it past the earlier film's $92 million domestic haul.

It is also benefiting from the rare "A+" CinemaScore audiences gave it.

Also: What did the critics think?

"When word of mouth becomes the driving force in your campaign," Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution told TheWrap Sunday, "it's a rare occasion, and this film has taken on a life of its own."

Analysts had projected an opening of $13 million going into the weekend for "Cloud Atlas," but its $4.681 per-screen average was the best of any wide release and its Imax screen average was even more impressive at $10,714 from 105 locations -- about 19 percent of its take.

Warner Bros. put up $20 million of the estimated $100 million "Cloud Atlas" budget and is distributing the film in North America. The rest was covered by smaller investments, foreign rights sales and by the Wachowskis, who directed the film along with Tom Tykwer ("Run Lola Run"). Hanks and Halle Berry top an ensemble cast that includes Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Doona Bae and Susan Sarandon.

Its challenging material -- the adaptation of David Mitchell's sprawling sci-fi 2004 novel tells six interweaving stories -- and nearly three-hour run time may have proved daunting to some. It earned just a "C+" CinemaScore from audiences who were 77 percent over 25 years of age and 51 percent male.

"Clearly the upscale market is leading the charge," Fellman said, "and that's where we'll try to build it going forward." He noted strong numbers out of Canada, and said that he thought the film was likely to play more strongly overseas than in the U.S.

Open Road Entertainment's R-rated horror film "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D" debuted with $8 million from 2,931 locations. That's well below the $20 million bow of the original "Silent Hill," which opened No. 1 in April 2006.

With a "B+," Fox's PG-rated "Chasing Mavericks" had the best CinemaScore of any of the openers. But it took in just $2.2 million from 2,002 screens and the surf film starring Gerard Butler couldn't crack the top 10.

Paramount's debuting teen comedy "Fun Size" took in $4 million from 3,014 screens in its debut. It's the first PG-13 film developed by Nickelodeon Movies to be released in the U.S. Written by Max Werner, it marks the directing debut of Josh Schwartz. Audiences which were 67 percent female and 73 percent under 25, gave it a "B" CinemaScore.

Here are the weekend's top 10 movies:
"Argo," $12.3 million
"Hotel Transylvania," $9.5 million
"Cloud Atlas," $9.4 million
"Paranormal Activity 4," $8.6 million
"Silent Hill: Revelation 3D," $8 million
"Taken 2," $8 million
"Here Comes the Boom," $5.5 million
"Sinister," $5 million
"Alex Cross," $5 million
"Fun Size," $4 million

Also on The Wrap:
Ben Affleck: 'Argo' Is a 'Hard Movie to Sell' (Exclusive) 
Baltasar Kormakur to Direct Pilot of HBO and Mark Wahlberg's 'The Missionary' (Exclusive)

Oct 28, 2012 4:15PM

Argo was an excellent movie, a must see. It a nail biter and keeps you at the edge of  your seat. My heart was pounding all through the movie. I was around 10-11 when this happend so not much of a memory of it. Excellent history lesson of how the fallout of US and Iran relations. If you have not seen this movie yet, it is a must see, stay and watch it to the very end, through the credits.


Ben Affleck deserves an Oscar for this movie.


2 thumbs up

Oct 28, 2012 10:22PM
Yes, even though you know the outcome it is an EXCELLENT history lesson and a wellmade movie. Worth seeing and makes a good basis for a discussion in view of the latest fiasco in Libya.
Oct 28, 2012 4:48PM
I never cared for Ben Affleck as an actor until I saw this movie. Not only was he outstanding as an actor but as the director as well. He did an amazing job in this role and should consider more of this type of role rather than the romance comedy stuff that doesn't suit him very well. Bravo Mr. Affleck. I have a new found admiration for you.
Oct 28, 2012 5:56PM

Considering Jimmy Carter's pathetic handling of the Iran Hostage Crisis,..they should have named the movie: 'Arrrgh - Ohhh"



Oct 28, 2012 2:07PM
All those horrible memories of those awful people terrorizing Americans.  THX Ben
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