Takers and The Last Exorcism delivered sizable debuts in a near photo finish for the weekend top spot, while Avatar's Special Edtion relaunch yielded modest numbers. Overall weekend business was off eight percent from the same timeframe last year, when The Final Destination led.
In Sunday's studio estimates, The Last Exorcism was barely ahead with $21.3 million versus Takers' $21 million, propped up by its $9.4 million Friday. But Takers led on Saturday and gained the overall weekend lead when Sunday's returns were counted. Both pictures, though, were overestimated, as were most movies.
Takers wound up bagging $21 million on approximately 2,600 screens at 2,206 locations. The heist thriller tripled the start of Armored, and it came in only a bit behind last summer's higher-profile The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. Its initial attendance was also nearly 50 percent greater than similar titles like Dead Presidents, ATL and Street Kings. Distributor Sony Pictures' research showed that 52 percent of Takers' audience was female and 51 percent under 25 years old.
Claiming $20.4 million on around 3,500 screens at 2,874 locations, The Last Exorcism reinforced the seemingly perennial popularity of supernatural horror movies, particularly serious ones about hauntings or exorcisms. Its opening ranked well above average for the sub-genre, grossing more than Exorcist: The Beginning and The Unborn (2009). The last expressly exorcism-themed movie, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, though, had a much bigger start, making $30.1 million out of the gate in 2005. Last Exorcism's estimated attendance also trailed such titles as The Amityville Horror (2005), Stigmata and The Haunting in Connecticut. Distributor Lionsgate's exit polling indicated that 52 percent of Last Exorcism's audience was female, 65 percent was under 25 years old and 54 percent was Latino, a segment that usually responds to this type of picture.
Avatar: Special Edition landed in 12th for the weekend with $4 million at 812 3D locations. That wasn't too shabby for a picture that's been universally available on home video for the past few months and that was nearly universally seen in theaters to begin with. However, it did not chart among the top re-issue openings, despite a prominent new marketing campaign. Avatar's lifetime gross finally pushed past the $750 million mark and stands at a mighty $753.8 million.
Last weekend's champion, The Expendables, fell 44 percent to $9.5 million, lifting its total to a solid $82 million in 17 days. It lost further ground to Inglourious Basterds, the "men on a mission" title from last August, which had $91.8 million through its 17th day.
Eat Pray Love wilted further compared to its analogue from last August, Julie & Julia. Eat slipped 44 percent to $6.8 million, increasing its sum to $60.5 million in 17 days. Julie was down 27 percent to $8.8 million at the same point, though Eat maintained a slight edge in total gross.
Inception was still firmly in the mix as well, edging out The Other Guys for smallest percentage drop among nationwide holdovers. Off 38 percent, the mind-bending caper nabbed $4.9 million for a tremendous $270.5 million total in 45 days.
The second weekend holdovers had little to offer. Vampires Suck bled profusely as this type of spoof often does, tumbling 57 percent to $5.2 million and upping its sum to $27.8 million in 12 days. Nanny McPhee Returns held worse than its predecessor, dropping 44 percent to $4.7 million for a $17 million total in ten days.
The Switch continued to track similarly to Love Happens and was down 46 percent to $4.6 million, growing its total to $16.4 million in ten days. Piranha 3D lost its teeth just like an ordinary creature feature, off 57 percent to $4.3 million for a $18.3 million tally in ten days. Lottery Ticket scratched off 64 percent, collecting $3.9 million for a $17.3 million total in ten days.