Muppets Most Wanted - Miss Piggy

As Above, So Below

Noah - Russell Crowe

Ghostbusters-30th Anniversary reissue

Noah - Russell Crowe

The Novemberman


     Summer stops: Hollywood's started its summer movie season at various times over the years, but it always comes to a stop with Labor Day weekend.

     As four day holiday weekends go, Labor Day's not Hollywood's favorite. Because it's the last-gasp-of-summer weekend for people across the U.S. -- kids go back to school, adults' vacations end and cooler fall weather is on the way before long -- movies must compete with one last visit to the beach or day at the pool or picnic in the park or barbecue under the stars.

     Unlike early summer holidays like Memorial Day or July Fourth, Labor Day doesn't attract high profile, big budget popcorn movies. But that's not to say Hollywood ignores the weekend. This time around, there were three wide openings -- a spy thriller starring an iconic former James Bond, a scary horror film set under the streets of Paris and the 30-year-anniverary reissue of a classic fantasy comedy, all targeted to different core audiences.

     The weekend's big winner was none of the above. Marvel Studios and Disney's "Guardians of the Galaxy"held on to first place with $22.2 million for four days. After arriving Aug. 1 to $94.3 million – the biggest ever for an August opening – it's ending the summer with a cume of $280.5 million.

     That's enough to propel "Guardians" past Paramount and Hasbro's "Transformers: Age of Extinction" ($244.4 million) and into first place on the summer Top Ten, as I wrote here Aug. 11seemed likely. It also puts it first on the chart for 2014, eclipsing Marvel and Disney's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which opened Apr. 4 to $95 million and has a cume of $259.8 million.

     Here's how the summer's Top Ten shape up through Labor Day:

     (1) Marvel Studios and Disney's PG-13 rated 3D sci-fi action adventure "Guardians of the Galaxy"tops the list with $280.5 million. It opened Aug. 1 to $94.3 million. Directed by James Gunn ("Slither"), it stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista.

     (2) Paramount and Hasbro's "Transformers: Age of Extinction" slips into second place with $244.4 million. "T4," which opened June 27 to $100 million, is directed by Michael Bay, director of the first three episodes. Starring are Mark Whalberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor.

     (3) Walt Disney Pictures and Roth Films' "Maleficent" ranks third with $238.7 million. It opened May 30 to $69.4 million. Directed by first time feature director Robert Stromberg, whose production designer credits include "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland," it stars Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning and Sharito Copley.

     (4) 20th Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment's "X-Men: Days of Future Past"is fourth with $233.4 million. It opened May 23 to $90.8 million. Directed by Bryan Singer ("X-Men," "X-Men 2"), it stars Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Hugh Jackman.

     (5) 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment's "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" ranks fifth with $205.5 million. It opened July 11 to $72.6 million. Directed by Matt Reeves ("Let Me In"), it stars Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Andy Serkis.

     (6) Columbia Pictures and Marvel Enterprises' "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"takes sixth place with $202.9 million. It opened May 2 to $91.6 million. Directed by Marc Webb ("The Amazing Spider-Man"), it stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx.

     (7) Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures' "Godzilla" is seventh with $200.7 million. It opened May 16 to $93.2 million. Directed by Gareth Edwards ("Monsters"), it stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins.

     (8) "22 Jump Street" from Columbia, MGM and Original Films, takes eighth place with $190.3 million. It opened June 13 to $57.1 million. Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, who directed the 2012 original "21 Jump Street," it reteams "21's" stars Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Ice Cube.

     (9) DreamWorks Animation and Fox's "How to Train Your Dragon 2"is ninth with $174 million. It opened June 13 to $49.5 million. Directed by Dean DeBlois ("How to Train Your Dragon"), it stars the voices of Jay Baruchel, Kristen Wiig and America Ferrara.

     When it opened "Dragon 2" was tracking best and in double digits with under-25 females. It was doing nearly as well with both over-25 women and under-25 men.

      (10) "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" from Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies and Platinum Dunes knocks Universal Pictures and Good Universe's "Neighbors" ($150.1 million) out of tenth place with $166.4 million. It opened to $65.6 million Aug. 8. Directed by Jonathan Liebesman ("Wrath of the Titans"), it stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett and William Fichtner.

     It was a quiet weekend for Labor Day's newcomers. Universal and Legendary Pictures' R rated horror thriller "As Above, So Below" opened Friday to $10.3 million for four days and took fifth place. It tracked best with under-25 males and nearly as well with women under 25.

     Relativity Media's R rated action thriller "The November Man"opened Wednesday and finished sixth with $10.2 million for four days and a five day cume of $11.9 million. Directed by Roger Donaldson ("The Bank Job"), it stars Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey and Olga Kurylenko. "November" tracked best with men over 25.

     Columbia's 30th anniversary reissue of its 1984 PG fantasy comedy "Ghostbusters" opened Friday out of the Top Ten in a semi-wide release to 784 theatres with $2.2 million for four days. It tracked best and equally well with men and women over 25 and nearly as well with men under 25.

     Looking back at some recent Labor Day weekends, this year's four day $22.2 million gross for "Guardians" is slightly better than how the holiday's top films have been performing. Last year saw "Lee Daniel's The Butler" place first in its third week with $20.2 million for four days. In 2012, the Labor Day chart was topped by "The Possession," which opened to $21.1 million for four days. The 2011 Labor Day boxoffice was led by "The Help" with a four day gross of $19.9 million in its third week.

     Labor Day 2010 saw "The American" open in first place with $16.7 million for four days. And in 2009, Labor Day's number one film was "The Final Destination" with $15.3 million for four days in week two.

     Bottom line:With Labor Day, Hollywood bids a fond farewell to summer and springboards merrily into the awards season.