The American Tops Quiet Weekend Box Office Results

An American hit man took on a former Mexican fed during the final weekend of the 2010 summer movie season as George Clooney’s The American beat out Robert Rodriguez’s Machete to land at the top spot at the North American box office. Meanwhile, the Drew Barrymore and Justin Long romantic comedy Going the Distance couldn’t even get out of the starting gate. With these three new releases, Hollywood closed the books on a summer movie season that was decidedly a mixed affair at best. This weekend was off 14% from last weekend’s totals and 1.5% from 2009’s Labor Day holiday weekend totals.

Estimates reported below are for the 3-Day weekend and does not include Labor Day Monday.

Opening this past Wednesday to get a head-start on the long weekend, The American landed in 2,823 theaters and grabbed $3.1 million for those two days. For the weekend, the movie pulled in a so-so $12.7 million to bring its total to $15.8 million. Reviews were mixed for the Clooney thriller whose ad campaign emphasized the action to sell it as Bourne-esque but failed to tell people that it is more cerebral than action oriented. The film is directed by Anton Corbijn (Control).

Ask anyone who saw 2007’s Grindhouse what their favorite part of the film was, chances are they would say the faux trailers. One of those trailers was Robert Rodriguez’ Machete whose three minutes of blood, guts, bullets and babes proved more faithful to the Grindhouse genre than Rodriguez’s feature-length contribution Planet Terror was. Rodriguez has gone and made a feature-length film out of the Machete trailer which Fox debuted on 2,670 screens this weekend to gross a mediocre $11.3 million. The film opened at number one on Friday with $3.9 million but moved to second place on Saturday as The American rose to first place and Machete’s grosses stayed flat, indicating that the movie has limited appeal outside of Rodriguez’ fanbase . Reviews overall for the Danny Trejo and Robert De Niro action flick were favorable and better business is expected from its Blu-ray and DVD run later this year.

Last weekend’s number one film, Screen Gems’ Takers, fell by an acceptable 44.5% to land in second place this weekend for an estimated $11.45 million. The performance brings its ten-day total to $38 million that should translate to somewhere near the $55-60 million mark when all is said and done. Dropping a scary 63% from its debut was Lionsgate’s The Last Exorcism with an estimated $7.55 million to land in fourth place for a ten-day gross of $32.3 million. The Eli Roth produced thriller should finish with roughly $45 million.

After what seemed like an eternity of watching Drew Barrymore and Justin Long make goo-goo eyes at each other in the commercials and press, Warner dumped their movie Going the Distance into 3,030 theaters and wound up grossing an un-romantic $6.9 million in its premiere weekend. Critics were unimpressed (46% on Rotten Tomatoes) with the R-rated comedy, and the weak $2,272 per screen average showed that audiences appeared to be even more apathetic toward the film. In sixth place was Sylvester Stallone and friends as their hit The Expendables eased only 29% from last weekend, adding another $6.75 million to its cinematic body count which now hovers around the $93 million mark. Overseas, the film has already smashed through the $100 million mark and a sequel seems inevitable.

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg were back on the beat this weekend as The Other Guys eased a mere 14% to add $5.4 million to its $107 million and counting total. The film might find its way to $120-125 million prior to policing the home video market this fall. Julia Roberts’ comedy/drama Eat Pray Love also benefited from the holiday weekend in easing a slight 29% to gross $4.85 million, bringing its total to the $69 million range. The cinematic adaptation of the runaway bestseller still has a shot at finishing its run near the $80 million mark. It’s a commendable feat but still shy of Julie and Julia which was also a Sony-released comedy/drama that debuted during the August timeframe as counter-programming to R-rated action fare (which was District 9 and Inglourious Basterds).

Christopher Nolan’s Inception continues to draw people in its eighth weekend out. It dropped only 7 percent while adding $4.7 million to its total which currently stands at approximately $277.1 million. The Dream Team should finish its domestic extraction job near the $290 million mark. Universal’s Nanny McPhee Returns spent one more weekend in the top ten by adding $3.575 million in estimated ticket sales to bring its total near the $23.6 million mark.

The top ten grossing films for the summer season are as follows:

  • 1. Toy Story 3: $408 million
  • 2. Iron Man 2: $312.1 million
  • 3. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse $299 million
  • 4. Inception: $277.1 million
  • 5. Despicable Me: $241.2 million
  • 6. Shrek Forever After: $238.4 million
  • 7. The Karate Kid (2010): $176 million
  • 8. Grown Ups: $160 million
  • 9. The Last Airbender: $131 million
  • 10. Salt: $115 million

Next weekend the fall movie season kicks off with Resident Evil: Afterlife in 3D. With no other contenders, watch for the fourth film in the sci-fi action series to dominate the dormant box office.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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