'Hotel Transylvania,' 'Looper' look to reverse losing streak

The one-two punch from Sony newcomers “Hotel Transylvania” and “Looper” should end the four-week losing streak at the domestic box office — but it’ll still be a gradual road to recovery.

Sony Animation’s 3D toon “Hotel Transylvania” could scare up north of $30 million, though observers are cautious because of the sluggish market in recent weeks, with most sticking to more modest expectations in the high $20 millions. Time-travel actioner “Looper,” meanwhile, should easily easily land in second place, with weekend p rojections ranging in the high-teens.

Either opening would be more than enough to outperform this time last year, when Warner Bros.’ soph-sesh holdover “Dolphin Tale” won the frame with $13.9 million. In fact, totals could come close to matching the 10-year high for this weekend, set in 2008 with $101 million. But that depends on whether the weekend’s entries can overcome several weeks of lackluster box office, and it will require support from mid-range titles.

Fox is anticipating a modest opening for education drama “Won’t Back Down.” Pic is expected to land in the mid-single digits through Sunday.

A one-week-early sneak of “Pitch Perfect” bows today at 335 Stateside locations, from 125 U.S. markets, including many of the top college towns. Universal settled on the early release after “Pitch” began trending on social media sites and drew media attention. The studio also showed the pic at hundreds of test screenings — U’s most extensive word-of-mouth campaign ever, according to the studio.

“Hotel Transylvania” and “Looper” should provide a solid base for next weekend’s crop, which includes Fox’s “Taken 2,” Disney’s “Frankenweenie” and U’s wide expansion of “Pitch Perfect.”

“Hotel Transylvania,” with a production budget of $85 million, launches at 3,349 locations, the majority of which are 3D. The stereo format has plateaued lately, especially for 3D animated fare. “Hotel” is likely to land somewhere in the 40% range of its total grosses coming from 3D screens. Toon also launches day-and-date in 14 territories including Australia, Japan and Mexico.

If “Hotel” manages to reach the upside of Stateside predictions, it would land similarly to Sony Animation’s “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” which debuted at $30.3 million in 2009.

There is potential for “Looper” to overperform, crossing the $20 million mark. The film, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, generated 12% of ticket sales by mid-afternoon Thursday, according to Fandango. “Hotel” drew 36% of ducats sold.

Endgame Entertainment’s “Looper” opened the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month. FilmDistrict acquired the film at last year’s Cannes, with Sony’s TriStar label handling Stateside distribution.

The weekend’s third newcomer, “Won’t Back Down,” has sparked controversy among educators, with teachers unions protesting the pic about two mothers, played by Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal, who take control of their kids’ failing elementary school. Fox screened the film for parents groups and educators, as well as during the Republican and Democratic conventions.

Summit expands “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” today to 102 locations. Last weekend, the film scored the distrib’s highest-ever opening per-screen average of $57,090. Pic has cumed more than $306,000 domestically through Wednesday.

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