"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" has a sunny debut at domestic box office. It easily edges out other wide releases this week by opening to a solid $35 million in North America. It marks the fourth-biggest opening for a September release behind "Hotel Transylvania" ($42.5M), "Insidious Chapter 2" ($40.2M), and "Sweet Home Alabama" ($35.6M).
Though missing record, the "Cloudy" sequel's opening is still ahead of the $30.3M debut posted by its predecessor "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" in 2009. It's considered an impressive achievement given that the second movie earned only 28% of ticket sales from 3D, while the first movie got a 60% with Imax 3D.
It's also welcome news for Sony after the disappointing results of its live-action pics including "After Earth" and "White House Down" this summer. "We really have a film beloved by families," says Sony worldwide distribution prexy Rory Bruer. "The film has so many things going for it, and worldwide this will be a big hit for us."
80% of the "Cloudy 2" audience was families with 37% of them parents, 43% children under age 12 and 20% of others aged 12 and up. The movie receives an "A-" grade from CinemaScore but gets mixed receptions on Rotten Tomatoes. While only 58% of critics on the pollster thumb it up, 80% of general moviegoers like it.
The "Cloudy 2" made on a budget of $78M is believed to have taken advantage of a lack of animated competition. The last cartoon movie to hit theaters was "Planes", which came out two months ago, and there won't be any other animation released in theaters until Thanksgiving-themed "Free Birds" opens on November 1.
The second-biggest debut this week is Formula One drama "Rush" starring Chris Hemsworth. The film rakes in an estimated $10.3 million in its second weekend after expanding to 2,297 theaters. Earning an "A-" from CinemaScore, it appealed to older crowd with 53% of them over the age of 40 and they were evenly divided between males and females.
The pic about the rivalry of real-life drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda unfortunately falls short of taking the runner-up place with last week's No 1 "Prisoners" starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal blocking with approximately $11M. But the Ron Howard-directed film fares better outside the pond, where car-caring sport is popular. It's ranked first in the U.K. with $17.6M.
"Baggage Claim", a romcom about a love-seeking flight attendant, occupies the fourth place with an estimated $9.3 million. Targeting female and African-American audience, the Paula Patton-starring flick also gets an A- CinemaScore, despite unfavorable reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (only 18% of reviewers give positive feedback).
Rounding up the top 5 is "Don Jon" directed, written and led by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. With Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore and Tony Danza in supporting roles, the R-rated movie collects an estimated $9 million in its debut weekend. It gets an 81% "fresh" rating from the Rotten Tomatoes and earns a C+ from CinemaScore.