Another tepid session at the North American box office down approximately 25% on last year saw new releases End of Watch and House At The End Of The Street battle it out for the top spot while Paul Thomas Anderson’s acclaimed drama surged into the top ten.

Anderson’s The Master expanded from five to 788 theatres and grossed $5m in its second weekend to rank seventh on $6.1m through The Weinstein Company.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena star in the police thriller End Of Watch, which Exclusive Media Group and Emmett/Furla produced and Open Road released. The recent Toronto world premiere grossed $13m, the same number Relativity Media reported for its horror House At The End Of The Street starring Jennifer Lawrence.

Warner Bros’ father-daughter drama Trouble With The Curve, starring Clint Eastwood and directed by Robert Lorenz opened in third on $12.7m. This marked the first time in almost 20 years that Eastwood has acted in a film he did not direct. The last example was Wolfgang Petersen’s 1993 thriller In The Line Of Fire.

Dredd, financed and produced by Reliance and IM Global, opened in sixth place through Lionsgate on a disappointing $6.3m. Lionsgate’s exposure is limited to a p&A spend but executives would have expected more from opening weekend and thoughts turn inevitably to the safety net of ancillary markets.

In the limited release arena, Summit Entertainment’s well regarded Toronto premiere The Perks Of Being A Wallflower fared exceptionally well and delivered $244,000 from four venues for a $61,000 per-theatre average.

Samuel Goldwyn Films release Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel opened in three theatres for a commendable $64,200.

Next weekend’s wide releases are: Sony animation Hotel Transylvania featuring the voice talent of Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Fran Drescher; FilmDistrict’s sci-fi thriller Looper with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt; and Fox’s dram Won’t Back Down with Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Oscar Isaac.

Estimated Top 10 North America Sept 21-23 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

=1 (-) End Of Watch (Open Road) Exclusive $13m –

=2 (-) House At The End Of The Street (Relativity) FilmNation $13m –

3 (-) Trouble With The Curve (Warner Bros) WBPI $12.7m –

4 (2) Finding Nemo 3D (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $9.4m $29.9m

5 (1) Resident Evil: Retribution (Sony / Screen Gems) SPRI $6.7m $33.5m

6 (-) Dredd (Lionsgate) IM Global $6.3m –

7 (19) The Master (TWC) TWC $5m $6.1m

8 (3) The Possession (Lionsgate) Lionsgate Int’l $2.6m $45.7m

9 (4) Lawless (TWC) FilmNation $2.3m $34.5m

10 (6) ParaNorman (Focus Features) FFI $2.3m $52.6m