LOS ANGELES — Hollywood is in photo-finish mode with three new movies bunched up tightly for the No. 1 spot during a sleepy weekend at the box office.
Studio estimates Sunday put two movies in a tie for first-place with $13 million each: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena’s police story “End of Watch” and Jennifer Lawrence’s horror flick “House at the End of the Street.”
And right in the same ballpark was Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams’ baseball tale “Trouble with the Curve,” which opened with $12.7 million.
Actual rankings will be determined Monday as studios release final numbers for the weekend.
No matter which movie comes out on top, it was another slow weekend for Hollywood, whose business has been sluggish throughout late summer. Revenues were down for the fourth-straight weekend, with all three of the top new movies opening to modest crowds.
“This was a clash of the non-Titans,” said Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. “When three films are duking it out for the top spot with only around $13 million, that doesn’t represent a very strong period at the box office.”
Overall domestic revenues totaled $88 million, down 25 percent from the same weekend last year, when a 3D re-release of “The Lion King” led with $21.9 million, according to Hollywood.com.
The weekend’s other new wide release, Lionsgate’s sci-fi action tale “Dredd,” opened well down in the rankings at No. 6 with $6.3 million. The movie features “Star Trek” co-star Karl Urban as a law enforcer and executioner in a crime-laden city of the future.
Open Road Films’ “End of Watch” stars Gyllenhaal and Pena as partners patrolling the mean streets of LA. Relativity Media’s “House at the End of the Street” casts “The Hunger Games” star Lawrence as a youth who moves with her mom next door to a house where bloody misdeeds took place years earlier. “Trouble with the Curve,” released by Warner Bros., stars Eastwood as an aging baseball scout whose daughter (Adams) accompanies him on his latest road trip.
Studios determine weekend estimates by counting Friday and Saturday ticket sales then projecting Sunday revenues based on how similar movies have played out in the past. On rare occasions when the top movies are this close, the rankings sometimes change when Monday’s final numbers are released.
That has led to grousing among competitors that some studios might be inflating their Sunday estimates to gain No. 1 bragging rights, even if only for a day.
“I took the high road myself and put down the $12.7 million we reported,” said Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner Bros., where Eastwood has been based for decades. “I’ve got a major actor with a solid group of people in this movie, and I don’t want to eat crow on Monday.”
Other studios were tracking “End of Watch” and “House at the End of the Street” at a bit less than $13 million for the weekend, and some had “Trouble with the Curve” at No. 1 by a fraction.
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