‘Hotel Transylvania’ checks in with $43M

Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler, is seen in the movie “Hotel Transylvania”, which debuted at No. 1 at the box office.

LOS ANGELES — 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.

“Hotel Transylvania” set a 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.

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.”

Sandler’s audience of young males generally has waned as he ages. But Sony, which has released most of his movies, remains eager to stay in the Sandler business.

“I have said that many times, and it still holds in a big way,” said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released today.