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Posted at 08:07 PM ET, 09/30/2012

BOX OFFICE: Surprising ‘Hotel Transylvania’ sets September record with $43M debut

LEAVE IT TO Sony — and Adam Sandler — to rouse the slumbering box office.

Sony’s animated 3-D release, “Hotel Transylvania,” had a $43-million domestic debut to set a September bow-in record in terms of total dollars, according to studio estimates releaesed Sunday. (Final numbers expected Monday.)

“Hotel Transylvania,” a monster mash of cartoon creatures featuring the voices of Sandler and Selena Gomez, broke the record of “Sweet Home Alabama,” which debuted with $35.7-million — though at 2002 admission prices, that live-action Reese Witherspoon film sold more tickets.

“It’s absolutely an incredible result,” Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures, told Reuters of the studio’s surprise. Sony had predicted a debut in the $25-million to $30-million range.

Counting foreign markets, “Transylvania” grossed $51.1-million globally.

The film also benefitted from savvy slotting: Next weekend, “Transylvania” will face fierce competition from another Halloween-timed animated 3-D release: Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie.”

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Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), Murray the Mummy (Cee Lo Green), Wanda (Molly Shannon), Wayne (Steve Buscemi), Frank (Kevin James) and Mavis (Selena Gomez) in “Hotel Transylvania.” (. - COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES ANIMATION)

With a 1-2 punch, Sony was the driving force behind turning around the sluggish month at the box office; its sci-fi film “Looper,” starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, was second with $21.2-million.

By  |  08:07 PM ET, 09/30/2012

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