'Possession,' 'Lawless' open wide

High hopes for the $55 million gamble “The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure” deflated Wednesday as the self-distributed kidpic earned just $102,564, kicking off a sleepy Labor Day frame that also includes a pair of wide releases tracking in the low teens: Lionsgate’s scarer “The Possession” and the Weinstein Co.’s Prohibition-era pic “Lawless.”

“Oogieloves,” from “Teletubbies” marketer Kenn Viselman, launched at an aggressive 2,160 locations — giving it a dismal $47 per-screen average. The film, however, has most observers stumped, as it’s difficult enough to predict family tracking — let alone a film that appeals to 3- to 5-year-olds.

Expectations for “Oogieloves,” which cost approximately $55 million to produce and market, max out at around $4 million, though its bleak midweek launch could mean the film makes even less. Last year, the top 10 Labor Day pics totaled some $76 million; estimates for this year’s crop range between $62 million-$65 million, which would trail by 17%.

Lionsgate’s holdover “The Expendables 2″ should benefit from limited competition in its third frame — it’s expected to drop around 35%, meaning the film could earn between $8 million-$9 million in three days. Pic has cumed $56 million through Wednesday.

Disney looks to take advantage of a modest weekend by expanding “The Avengers” into 1,705 Stateside playdates before the Sept. 25 homevid launch. Pic, which has cumed $617.8 million, had been playing at 123 mostly second-run houses.

Also expanding aggressively, last weekend’s newsmaker “2016: Obama’s America” adds nearly 650 locations, totaling 1,740. Docu so far has totaled an impressive $12.4 million domestically, making its this year’s highest-grossing docu (excluding nature and concert docs).

Weinstein gave “Lawless” a two-day head start to the holiday weekend, grossing Wednesday a serviceable $1.13 million. Pic, which received a solid B+ CinemaScore, expands today to 2,865 locations, making it the widest release for TWC since last September’s “Apollo 18.”

Directed by John Hillcoat, “Lawless” follows three bootlegging brothers played by Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke. Weinstein acquired the film in Cannes last year, and it screened in competition this year.

“Possession” could see a better-than-expected upside, depending on how well it performs Friday night.

Aside from last weekend’s forgettable $2.8 million perf for “The Apparition,” Lionsgate’s “Possession” — budgeted in the low-to-mid teens — marks the best B.O. prospects for a horror pic since “The Cabin in the Woods” earned $14.7 million during its opening weekend in April.

Sony Pictures Classics expands “Celeste and Jesse Forever” to 586 locations, up from 115, while IFC’s “Sleepwalk With Me,” which scored one of the best opening per-screen averages last weekend at New York’s IFC Center, adds 28 Stateside engagements.

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