September is expected to finish strong at the box office with boosts from new offerings.
Though Labor Day was sluggish, year-to-date ticket sales are up about 6%, according to film tracking firm Rentrak.
This weekend, new offering "Hotel Transylvania 2" will probably open at No. 1 with an estimated box-office take of $32 million to $37 million, according to people familiar with pre-release audience surveys. Some higher estimates suggest the animated sequel could rack up to $45.5 million.
Another new release, Warner Bros.' "The Intern," is expected to open with $13 million to $16 million. Meanwhile, "Everest," from Working Title, Cross Creek Pictures and Walden Media, could take in about $20 million when it expands to 3,004 North American theaters.
"It's becoming obvious that if you have a good movie, people are going to see it whenever," said Phil Contrino, senior analyst and vice president of BoxOffice.com.
Of the new releases, Contrino said the "Hotel Transylvania" sequel will probably lead the pack because it's been awhile since a strong family film has hit the market.
The animated film, which is being released by Sony's Columbia Pictures label, cost about $80 million to make. It is a comedy about Dracula's monster-only hotel, now open to humans. The voice cast includes Adam Sandler (who also co-wrote the film), Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg and Kevin James.
Its predecessor, released in September 2012, launched with $43 million in the U.S. and Canada. However, the sequel faces competition from last weekend's top film, "The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials," which is geared toward a similar young adult audience.
"The Intern," which cost about $40 million to make, will open in 3,305 theaters. The film, directed by Nancy Meyers, follows Jules (Anne Hathaway), a young founder of an Internet start-up, after she hires a 70-year-old intern (Robert De Niro).
"Everest" is also picking up buzz as it rolls out in more theaters. Universal's release strategy is meant to encourage people to see the film in the premium formats and then use the buzz "to support the wider break this coming Friday," Nick Carpou, Universal's head of domestic distribution, told The Times last week.
To date, the adventure film has made $35 million worldwide in 36 markets, with about $8.7 million of that haul coming from the North American box office. It stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Emily Watson and Jake Gyllenhaal.
The studio has a more modest forecast of about $15 million for the film's wide opening.
Also in theaters, "The Green Inferno," released by Blumhouse's BH Tilt label in partnership with Focus Features' High Top label, could take in $4 million to $5 million.
The horror film, from Eli Roth ("Cabin Fever"), follows a group of college students who take their humanitarian protest to the Amazon jungle where they are taken prisoner by the indigenous tribe they came to save.
Blumhouse acquired the film for just under $1 million. The company’s BH Tilt label, which launched in September of 2014, was designed to release genre movies in a more experimental fashion. Rather than distribute a film in wide release or straight to video-on-emand, BH Tilt is experimenting with a middle ground. Blumhouse’s label hopes to experiment with this type of release strategy for at least two other films.
“The Green Inferno” will be released in 1,539 theaters, selected becuase they are historically visited by die-hard horror fans, the film’s target demographic.