Friday Box Office: ‘Argo’ sneaks to top spot with $4 mil; ‘Cloud Atlas’ drifts to #2 with $3.5 mil

Crowd of newcomers divvy up take as hurricane approaches East Coast

Warner Bros. looks to land a one-two punch at the box office with a leggy thriller claiming the top spot for the first time, followed by a high-budget metaphysical drama that may have a big struggle at the domestic B.O.

In its third weekend, “Argo” has finally taken the lead with $4 million domestically Friday, proving that interest in the Ben Affleck thriller is expanding beyond older adults. Pic is expected to earn close to $13 million through Sunday, marking a roughly 22% drop after its impressive 15.5% hold between its first and second frames.

Close on its heels, WB’s “Cloud Atlas” earned $3.5 million Friday. Where “Argo’s” haul is a celebration for the studio, “Atlas” must be something of a disappointment for the bow of a film that cost more than $100 million to produce and toplines Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon and Ben Wishaw. The gap is expected to widen over the weekend, with “Atlas” at just north of $10 million in three days, and all that follow in single digits.

“Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” from Open Road, for example, performed on par with “Cloud Atlas” on Friday, earning $3.5 million. However, by Sunday it’s expected to lag and wind up in fifth behind Sony’s “Hotel Transylvania” and Paramount’s “Paranormal Activity 4,” which earned $2.6 million and $3.1 million Friday, respectively. The shuffle can be attributed to the fact that horror films like “Silent Hill” play better on Fridays than Saturdays and Sundays, while family pics like “Hotel” and more established franchises like “Paranormal” fare better, even if the former has been in plexes for five frames and the latter, also a horror, is seeing a nearly 70% drop-off this weekend.

While “Cloud Atlas” may be a disappointment this frame, a pair of entries may constitute serious bombs. Par’s “Fun Size,” opening at 3,014 locations earned just $1.3 million Friday, looking at a three-day around $4 million. It’s low, but it’s better than can be said for Fox’s “Chasing Mavericks,” which didn’t even break $1 million from 2,002 engagements, resulting in a dismal $412 per screen average.

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