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"Hotel Transylvania" wins weekend box-office race

Release Date: Sept. 28 Adam Sandler provides the voice of Dracula in an animated monster mash.
Sony Pictures

(CBS/AP) Adam Sandler's monster mash-up "Hotel Transylvania" has brought the weekend box office back to life after a late-summer slump.

The animated comedy from Sony Pictures debuted at No. 1 with $43 million, one of the strongest starts ever for a movie opening in September, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Sony appeared happy with the results, sending out an email on Sunday that noted it had "a monster hit on our hands!!!!!!," reports The New York Times.

"Hotel Transylvania" set a new high for September debuts in terms of actual dollars, beating the previous record of $35.7 million for 2002's "Sweet Home Alabama." But factoring in today's higher admission prices, "Sweet Home Alabama" sold more tickets.

This weekend's box office was further strengthened by a solid No. 2 debut for another Sony release, Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's time-travel thriller "Looper," which took in $21.2 million.

Hollywood's overall grosses rose for the first time in a month compared to the same weekend last year. Revenues totaled $120 million, up 21 percent from the same weekend a year ago, when "Dolphin Tale" led with $13.9 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

Locking up the family crowds, the PG-rated "Hotel Transylvania" features Sandler providing the voice of Count Dracula as proprietor of a resort catering to Frankenstein, the Wolfman and other monsters.

The R-rated "Looper" pulled in male action fans. Set in 2044, the film stars Gordon-Levitt as a hit man assigned to kill victims sent back in time - including his future self (Bruce Willis).

The previous weekend's No. 1 movie, Open Road Films' police story "End of Watch," fell to No. 3 with $8 million, raising its domestic total to $26.2 million.

In narrower release, Universal Pictures' music tale "Pitch Perfect" opened strongly at No. 6 with $5.2 million. The movie stars Anna Kendrick as a college freshman who joins an a cappella singing team and livens up the group's conservative style.

The weekend's other new wide release, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis' school drama "Won't Back Down," flopped at No. 10 with $2.7 million, averaging just $1,074 in 2,515 theaters. The movie centers on two mothers who organize a campaign to save a failing elementary school.

For Sandler, "Hotel "Transylvania" was a return to hit status after his summer dud "That's My Boy" and so-so results on last year's comedy "Jack and Jill."

Tell us: Did you go to the movies over the weekend?