In a sizeable victory for Sony, 3D toon Hotel Transylvania debuted to $43 million -- the biggest opening since The Dark Knight Rises and the top September bow ever. It's also the best performance to date for the studio's animation unit.
The good news didn't end there. Looper, released by Sony's TriStar label in tandem with FilmDistrict and Endgame Entertainment, took the No. 2 spot with a $21.2 million opening.
Looper, a Chinese co-production, is also doing impressive opening business in China, where it's expected to gross between $23 million and $25 million for the weekend.
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, Hotel Transylvania was fueled by good word of mouth (the film received an A- CinemaScore) and a pent-up demand for family product. The pic's voice cast is led by Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Selena Gomez.
Sony Animation's previous top debut was The Smurfs, which opened to $35.6 million in summer 2011. The previous best September bow was Sweet Home Alabama ($35.6 million).
Hotel Transylvania also scored the biggest September single day in history with $19 million, beating Sweet Home Alabama ($14.7 million).
Looper, directed by Rian Johnson and receiving stellar reviews, stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis.
Thanks to Hotel Transylvania and Looper, which received a B+ CinemaScore, weekend revenues should be bup 24 percent over last year, ending a post-summer losing streak.
The grim news of the weekend -- Walden Media wide release Won't Back Down, distributed by 20th Century Fox, opened to a dismal $2.7 million, only good enough for a 10th place finish. The education drama, starring Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal, was handily beat by Universal's musical comedy Pitch Perfect, even though that film was only a limited release.
Pitch Perfect grossed $5.1 million from 335 theaters, placing No. 6. The movie expands nationwide next weekend.