Hollywood's summer ended fairly quietly this Labor Day weekend as a the horror film The Possession led a pack of middling newcomers this holiday.
Possession did $21.3 million over the four-day holiday, says box office tracker Hollywood.com.
While the debut met most analysts' expectations, those predictions were already low thanks to Hollywood's sputtering finish to the season, which officially concluded Monday.
Final figures are due Tuesday, but if projections hold, Hollywood will end its summer with $4.3 billion in ticket sales, a shade below last year's $4.4 billion. The 4% dip marks a drop in attendance of about 21.8 million tickets, Hollywood.com says.
"All in all, it's a Labor Day to forget," says John Hamann of Boxofficeprophets.com. "The box office is stale."
Indeed, the industry lost most of its momentum from spring, though overall attendance remains 3% ahead of last year's pace.
The Possession proved an easy winner this weekend despite tough reviews. Only 35% of critics gave it a thumbs-up, according to Rottentomatoes.com. But 67% of moviegoers liked it, the pollsters said.
That and a heavy ad campaign helped push the horror film to a handy win over Lawless, the gangster film starring Shia LaBeouf, which did $13 million.
Despite the silver-medal finish, Lawless could benefit from word of mouth. About 65% of critics liked it, while a healthy 83% of fans gave it a thumbs-up, Rottentomatoes.com says.
The Expendables 2 took third with $11.2 million, followed by The Bourne Legacy's $9.4 million.
The animated ParaNorman rounded out the top five with $8.8 million.