By Grady Smith
Updated September 03, 2012 at 06:02 PM EDT
Credit: Richard Foreman Jr.
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Another summer at the movies come and gone, folks.

The season, which kicked off with The Avengers‘ record-breaking bow in May, officially ended this weekend with a record of a very different sort courtesy of The Oogieloves. Fortunately for Hollywood, not every picture performed that badly — in fact, almost none of them did!

Note: This article covers the four-day Labor Day weekend frame. Three-day box office estimates can be found here.

In first place was Lionsgate’s $14 million horror title The Possession, which stars Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The film earned $21.3 million over the Friday-to-Monday period, a stronger start than most industry insiders were expecting, and the second best gross ever for a movie over Labor Day weekend (a traditionally slow moviegoing frame) behind 2007’s Halloween, which debuted with $30.6 million.

The Possession benefited from its “inspired by a true events” conceit — a similar tagline helped another demonic film, The Devil Inside, which notably earned an “F” CinemaScore, top the chart earlier this year. Thankfully, audiences enjoyed The Possession a whole lot more than that — it earned a “B” CinemaScore grade. While that’s not likely to helps its box office endurance all that much (horror films typically plummet after they debut), that’s fine given The Possession‘s slim budget.

Credit: Richard Foreman Jr.

The Weinstein Company’s moonshine crime drama Lawless debuted in second place with $13 million from 2,888 theaters. The film, which was acquired for just over $5 million by Weinstein, has now earned $15.1 million (as well as a “B+” CinemaScore grade) since its Wednesday debut.

The period piece marks the worst opening for a Shia LaBeouf wide release since the golf drama The Greatest Game Ever Played, which only putted up $3.7 million in its first weekend in 2005 — two years before the Even Stevens star broke out in Transformers. Recently, the 26-year-old has expressed a desire to get as far away from the mainstream as possible (Look, he’s naked! He’s doing drugs! He’s performing un-simulated sex! He’s “done” with the studio system!), so it’s likely that he’ll see many worse weekends in the future.

A slew of holdovers filled up the remaining spots on the chart. In third place, The Expendables 2 scored $11.2 million in its third weekend, thereby lifting its running total to $68.6 million. As I said yesterday, the action ensemble has no shot at breaking $100 million domestically.

The Bourne Legacy grossed $9.4 million over the long weekend for a fourth place finish and a 25-day total of $98.4 million. It should join the century club in the next few days, yet Universal’s $125 sequel/reboot will finish its run as the lowest grossing Bourne movie domestically, behind even the franchise’s launchpad, The Bourne Identity, which took in $121.7 million in 2002.

Focus Features’ ParaNorman stuck around in fifth place with an $8.9 million long weekend. The 3-D stop motion animation from Laika Entertainment has grossed $40.3 million so far, but it won’t be able to match the gross of Laika’s first effort, Coraline, which had earned $53.8 million at the same point in its run on its way to a final $75.2 million gross. (Note: it’s not my intention to be negative about every release — but most box office performances for the past month have been pretty unimpressive and/or dismal.)

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

The Odd Life of Timothy Green got the biggest bump from the extended weekend, rising 19 percent to $8.5 million. Disney’s $25 million family drama — which has been known to cause a few tears — has held well at the box office since its weak $10.8 million debut, and it has now earned a not-half-bad $38.3 million total. Its “A-” CinemaScore has likely spurred strong word-of-mouth for the Jennifer Garner/Joel Edgerton picture.

Further down the chart, conservative political documentary 2016: Obama’s America pulled in another $7.1 million after expanding to 1,750 theaters — a slightly lower number than most expected following the Republican National Convention. Although the Rocky Mountain Pictures release has begun to show signs of cooling off, its $20.3 million total is very impressive for its genre, and it’s headed for a finish between $25-30 million, which would make it the 2nd-highest earning political doc of all time behind Fahrenheit 9/11, which grossed $119.2 million. Right now, Bowling for Columbine ($21.6 million), An Inconvenient Truth ($24.1 million), and Sicko ($24.5 million) are all still ahead.

And a special shoutout to Hope Springs: the marriage drama starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones has demonstrated considerable endurance since its soft $14.7 million debut four weeks ago. This weekend, Hope sprang to $6 million, lifting its total to $53.4 million. Given the fact that the film looked like a misfire after its opening weekend, and considering Sony spent only $15 million to acquire the film from Mandate (which, in turn, spent $29 million on its production), that’s an encouraging gross.

Disney also expanded The Avengers into 1,705 theaters for the weekend, and the superhero ensemble’s gross shot up to $2.4 million. As a result, The Avengers cume climbed to $620.3 million domestically, and it crossed the $1.5 billion mark worldwide. For those keeping track, that’s about $1.5 billion than The Oogieloves‘ box office total.

1. The Possession – $21.3 million

2. Lawless – $13.0 million

3. The Expendables 2 – $11.2 million

4. The Bourne Legacy – $9.4 million

5. ParaNorman – $8.9 million

Check back next weekend for full box office coverage of The Cold Light of Day and The Words, and follow me on Twitter for additional analysis and up-to-the-minute results.


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