By Grady Smith
September 08, 2012 at 04:57 PM EDT
Diyah Pera

For the second weekend in a row, Lionsgate’s $14 million horror film The Possession will top the box office.

That’s not necessarily a testament to the film’s quality, though — it’s a sign that moviegoers have been trained to avoid the theater in early September, and that this weekend’s newcomers are true box office misfires. In fact, this weekend will likely be the first time in more than a decade (since Sept. 21-23, 2001, when Hardball topped the chart) that the Top 12 movies didn’t cumulatively earn at least $50 million. Heck, they’ll be lucky to make $40 million!

The Possession earned $2.9 million on Friday — a healthy (for a horror movie) drop of 52 percent from its opening Friday. The Possession may scare up about $9 million by Sunday, easily giving it a second weekend in first place and a running total of $32.8 million.

Crime drama Lawless will hold its spot in second place as well. The Weinstein title, which stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, and Jessica Chastain, took in $1.8 million on Friday and may finish the frame with just under $6 million.

In third place, The Words, the plagiarism drama starring Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana, did about as well you’d expect a plagiarism drama to do, earning $1.6 million in its opening day. The CBS Films effort, which cost $6 million and was acquired for $2 million at Sundance, will be lucky to hit $5 million for the weekend, but what makes that start extra sad is that The Words (which earned a “B” CinemaScore) is playing in 2,801 theaters, giving the film an opening day per-theater average of just $571.

Still, The Words‘ terrible start was leaps and bounds better than the week’s other wide release, Summit’s The Cold Light of Day, which started way further down the chart with only $637,000 from 1,511 theaters. We’ll see if the film, which stars Henry Cavill and Sigourney Weaver and earned a “D+” CinemaScore grade, can manage $2 million for the full weekend.

Rounding out the Top 5 were The Expendables 2 and The Bourne Legacy, which grossed $1.3 million and $1.1 million, respectively. Notably, Legacy‘s Friday helped push the film past the $100 million threshold.

Check back tomorrow for the full box office report, and follow me for more box office analysis:

Follow @EWGradySmith