(Bloomberg) -- “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” a 21st Century Fox Inc. comedy about British super-spies, returned to the No. 1 spot in North American theaters, helping cinema owners clinch a record September at the box office.
“The Golden Circle,” a sequel to the surprise 2015 hit, collected $16.94 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, researcher ComScore Inc. said Monday. A final tally rearranged the top three films, pushing the Warner Bros. horror feature “It” to second place in its fourth weekend, with $16.9 million. A new Tom Cruise movie from Universal Pictures, “American Made,” opened in third place instead of second, with $16.78 million. The other new wide release Sony Corp.’s “Flatliners” placed fifth with $6.57 million.
After the worst summer in a decade, theater and studio executives are basking in a recovery, with several big pictures on tap that may extend the rebound. September closed with record sales of $708.9 million in North America, surpassing the old mark of $616.4 million set in 2015, according to ComScore. And the credit goes largely to “It” and Time Warner Inc.’s film division, which already plans a sequel.
New and returning movies all vied for the top spot. “It” was forecast to produce $16.5 million and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” was expected to be close behind at $16.4 million, according to analysts at BoxOfficePro.com.
The crime thriller “American Made,” featuring Cruise as a commercial airline pilot recruited by the CIA to provide intelligence on a burgeoning communist threat in Central America, was a hit with critics. The R-rated feature from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures cost $50 million to make and was expected to generate $16.8 million on its North American debut, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.
Sony Pictures’ remake “Flatliners” fared less well with critics. Ellen Page and Kiefer Sutherland are among the stars featured in the tale about a group of medical students, obsessed with the afterlife, who experiment by stopping their hearts for short periods of time to trigger a near-death experience. The film cost $19 million to produce, not including marketing costs, according to Box Office Mojo, which projected $8.3 million for its opening weekend.