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Possession No. 1 at weak US box office
Natasha Calis stars as Em in The Possession. Picture: AP Photo/Lionsgate, Diyah Pera.

The Possession occupied the top spot at a nearly comatose box office.

The fright flick with Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Dean Morgan playing the parents of a girl possessed by a demon earned $US9.5 million ($A9.28 million) in its second outing, the lowest grossing weekend for the box office this year and one of the worst weekends at the box office in a decade. It marked the first time since 2008 that no film managed to crack the $US10 million mark.

The weekend after the Labor Day holiday in the US is typically the slowest of the year, but this weekend's grosses were down 20 per cent over last year when Contagion opened in first place with $US22.4 million. Total box office revenues are estimated at $US67 million, which would make this the worst weekend at the box office since the weekend after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when revenues were $US59.7 million.

"There just wasn't a strong opener," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. "We came off a summer that ended with a whimper. There wasn't any momentum. It just comes down to the movies and the marketplace. There's wasn't some extraneous force keeping people out of the theatres. This crop of movies just didn't have that solid draw."

The bootlegging tale Lawless starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain kept a lock on the No. 2 position in its second weekend with $US6 million, bringing its total haul to $US23.5 million, while The Words featuring Bradley Cooper as an aspiring writer and Zoe Saldana as his girlfriend debuted in third place with $US5 million.

A pair of action sequels rounded out the top five films. The ensemble flick The Expendables 2 earned $US4.7 million in its fourth weekend, while The Bourne Legacy captured $US4 million in its fifth outing at the box office. Expendables 2 also picked up $US14 million internationally in 23 territories, and Bourne Legacy nabbed $US13 million in 49 territories.

2016: Obama's America, a conservative film exploring the roots of President Barack Obama's political views, raised its total to $US26 million in its ninth week of release, earning another $US3.3 million this weekend. That now makes 2016 the second highest grossing political documentary of all time behind liberal director Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which holds the top spot with $US119.1 million.

The Cold Light of Day, the weekend's only other new major release, wasn't able to see the light of the top 10. The drama starring Henry Cavill and Bruce Willis earned just $US1.8 million in the No. 13 spot.

Below The Cold Light of Day, an IMAX re-release of 1981's Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark collected $US1.7 million in the No. 14 position. The film starring Harrison Ford as the iconic archaeologist is playing a limited engagement in 267 theatres.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. The Possession, $US9.5 million ($US3.5 million international).

2. Lawless, $US6 million ($US1.4 million international).

3. The Words, $US5 million.

4. The Expendables 2, $US4.7 million ($US14 million international).

5. The Bourne Legacy, $US4 million ($US13 million international).

6. ParaNorman, $US3.8 million ($US2.4 million international).

7. The Odd Life of Timothy Green, $US3.6 million.

8. The Campaign, $US3.5 million.

9. The Dark Knight Rises, $US3.3 million ($US13 million international).

10. 2016: Obama's America, $US3.3 million.