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The 14 Lowest Grossing Movies to Debut at Number One at the Box Office in the Modern Era

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | September 9, 2012 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | September 9, 2012 |

It wasn’t just a lousy weekend at the box office, it was the lousiest weekend at the box office in years. The top 12 total movies at the box office amounted only $51 million. To put that in perspective, the top 12 movies at the box office made $52 million the weekend after September 11, 2001. In fact, the last time the top 12 movies made less than $51 million was two weekends after September 11, 2001. That’s how bad the weekend was. Indeed, the number one film of the weekend, Possession, made only $9.5 million, which made it the 28th lowest grossing number one film of the modern era (i.e., since 1997).

Of course, $9.5 million is actually not a bad gross for Possession, as that was its second weekend (it opened at number one last weekend with $17 million). What’s bad are films that debut at number one, and still make less than $10 million. Here’s a list of the 14 films that have managed that feat since 1997.

1. Eye of the Beholder — $5.9 million (January)

2. Fire Down Below — $6 million (September)

3. Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star — $6.6 million (September)

4. He Got Game — $7.6 million (May)

5. Bangkok Dangerous — $7.7 million (September)

6. Rounders — $8.4 million (September)

7. Urban Legends: Final Cut — $8.5 million (September)

8. The Covenant — $8.8 million (September)

9. Pleasantville — $8.8 million (October)

10. The Best Man — $9.03 million (October)

11. The Watcher — $9.06 million (September)

12. The Relic — $9.06 million (January)

13. John Carpenter’s Vampires — $9.1 million (October)

14. Hardball — $9.3 million (September)

Note that eight of those films opened in September, the real Hollywood dumping grounds (suck it, January).

The rest of the box office was even more dismal than The Possession. The highest grossing debut of this week was Bradley Cooper’s The Words, which only mustered $5 million, good for third place (behind holdover Lawless, which made $6 million and is an awesome movie). That was better than the other wide release this weekend, Henry Cavill’s The Cold Light of Day, which made only $1.8 million, opening at number 13. That’s not very good.

In fact, I’m hard pressed to find any bright news in this week’s box office, unless you count 2016: Obama’s America, which made $3 million to bring its overall total to $26 million, making it the second most popular political documentary of all time behind Fahrenheit 9/11.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.