A weak session at the box office saw Warner Bros’ Academy Awards frontrunner climb to the top of the pile to reach a respectable $60.8m while stablemate Cloud Atlas led the new arrivals and opened in third place on $9.4m.

Overall business for the top 12 dropped approximately 12% against the comparable period a year ago and 32% against last weekend. Total box office performed little better, taking respective 12% and 29% slides against the comparable weekend in 2011.

At this rate Argo has a shot at $80m, although its status in the awards race and the bounce-back from potential nominations and awards throughout the season could push it past the $100m by the end of its run.

Sony’s Hotel Transylvania in second place stands at $130.4m after five weekends, while Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 4 fell three places to number four in its second weekend and has reached $42.6m.

EuropaCorp’s Taken 2 was in a race for fifth place with new arrival Silent Hill: Revelation 3D through Open Road and the films earned $8m apiece. The Liam Neeson thriller stands at $117.4m after four weekends and more than $314m worldwide.

Cloud Atlas delivered the best result of the debutants. It opened through Warner Bros in 2,008 theatres in the US but is really a product of the independent space. Sales agent Focus Features International introduced the ambitious karmic adventure to buyers at Cannes 2011, where it was reportedly one of four mega projects with a $100m budget.

Cloud Atlas is based on David Mitchell’s bestseller of the same name and stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant, among many others.

Samuel Hadida and Don Carmody’s horror story Silent Hill: Revelation 3D starring Adelaide Clemens produced a mediocre launch in joint fifth place in 2,933 theatres. Its predecessor starring Radha Mitchell opened in April 2006 and went on to gross $97m worldwide.

Paramount’s comedy Fun Size opened poorly in tenth place on $4.1m from 3,014 theatres while surfing drama Chasing Mavericks with Gerry Butler was treading water in 13th place on $2.2m from 2,002 sites.

Next weekend’s wide releases are Disney’s animated adventure Wreck-It Ralph voiced by John C Reilly as well as Paramount’s Oscar contender Flight starring Denzel Washington and directed by Robert Zemeckis in the latter’s return to live-action for the first time since Cast Away in 2000. The new arrivals include Universal’s action-adventure The Man With The Iron Fists starring RZA, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu and and Jamie Chung.

Estimated Top 10 North America Oct 26-28 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (2) Argo (Warner Bros) WBPI $12.4m $60.8m

2 (4) Hotel Transylvania (Sony) SPRI $9.5m $130.4m

3 (-) Cloud Atlas (Warner Bros) FFI $9.4m –

4 (1) Paranormal Activity 4 (Paramount) PPI $8.7m $42.6m

=5 (-) Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (Open Road) Lionsgate Int’l $8m

=5 (3) Taken 2 (Fox/EuropaCorp) Fox Int’l / EuropaCorp $8m $117.4m

7 (7) Here Comes The Boom (Sony) SPRI $5.5m $30.6m

8 (6) Sinister (Summit Entertainment) IM Global $5.07m $39.5m

9 (5) Alex Cross (Summit) QED Int’l $5.05m $19.4m

10 (-) Fun Size (Paramount) PPI $4.1m –