This weekend, the summer movie season closed quietly as the top ten slumped to its worst performance of 2010 with audiences finding other ways to spend their Labor Day holiday weekend. Two of the three new releases — George Clooney’s assassin pic The American and Robert Rodriguez’s violent revenge actioner Machete — met with moderate bows while Drew Barrymore’s romantic comedy Going the Distance failed to attract business. The top ten films tumbled to less than $75M (over the Friday-to-Sunday period) making for the lowest performance in nearly one year giving the marketplace very little momentum going into the fall season.
For the first time in his career, George Clooney anchored a number one hit movie all by himself as the Focus release The American shot to the top with an estimated $16.4M in ticket sales over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday frame. The R-rated drama averaged a decent $5,808 from 2,823 theaters over four days and has grossed $19.5M in the six days since its Wednesday launch. The Oscar-winning actor has reached the top spot numerous times but always when surrounded by other major stars like with the Ocean’s series or The Perfect Storm. The Friday-to-Sunday gross for the modest $20M production was $13.1M for a $4,650 average.
With the box office filled with films catering to teens and young adults, The American scored by playing to a more mature crowd. Autumn releases typically skew older so the Italy-set film was the appropriate choice to end off summer and welcome in the fall. The last time the chart was topped by such a low gross was Labor Day 2009 and the last film to open at number one with a smaller gross was Bangkok Dangerous with $7.8M two years ago over the September 5-7 session.
After winning the box office race on Friday, Fox’s Mexploitation actioner Machete finished in second place over the long four-day weekend with an estimated $14M. Robert Rodriguez’s Danny Trejo-led action-comedy played in 2,670 sites and averaged a mediocre $5,243 per location over the long weekend. Over three days, the gross was $11.4M while the average was $4,279. The performance was almost identical to the $11.6M opening and $4,419 average of 2007’s Grindhouse which featured a fake trailer for Machete which became the inspiration for the campy feature film.
Holding up relatively well in its second weekend, the crime thriller Takers dropped to third with an estimated $13.5M falling 47% from its top spot debut when comparing the three-day periods. Sony’s PG-13 offering has taken in a better-than-expected $40M in its first 11 days of release and could be looking at a final take of around $60M.
Tumbling 64% from its impressive debut last weekend, the fright flick The Last Exorcism took fourth place with an estimated $8.8M in ticket sales. Lionsgate has scared up a solid $33.6M in 11 days and looks headed for a $42-45M finish.
Audiences showed no interest in Drew Barrymore’s latest romantic comedy Going the Distance which opened poorly in fifth place with an estimated $8.6M over four days. The R-rated pic about a couple trying to make a long distance relationship work averaged a weak $2,842 from 3,030 theaters. Co-starring Justin Long, the Warner Bros. release enjoyed the most theaters of any new release over the past two weeks, but also suffered the worst debut. Reviews were generally negative and the strict rating kept out younger teens. The Friday-to-Sunday take was only $6.9M.
The rest of the top ten was filled with holdovers that moviegoers were busy catching up on after a long hot summer. All dropped by 30% or less when comparing Friday-to-Sunday sessions. Lionsgate’s The Expendables grossed an estimated $8.5M, off 30%, raising the cume to $94.1M. Sony followed with its pair of late summer star-driven hits The Other Guys and Eat Pray Love which took in estimates of $6.7M and $6.3M, respectively. The Will Ferrell action-comedy dipped only 16% lifting the total to $108.1M while the Julia Roberts travel journal fell 30% and has banked $70.4M to date.
Summer’s biggest non-sequel Inception eased by a scant 7% to an estimated $5.9M and has collected $278.4M thus far for Warner Bros. Rounding out the top ten was Universal’s family comedy Nanny McPhee Returns Returns with an estimated $4.7M, down 26%, and a disappointing $23.5M overall.
With the season coming to an end, the following are the top ten blockbusters of Summer 2010: Toy Story 3 ($408.8M), Iron Man 2 ($312.1M), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ($298.8M), Inception ($278.4M), Despicable Me ($241.3M), Shrek Forever After ($238.4M), The Karate Kid ($175.9M), Grown Ups ($159.4M), The Last Airbender ($131.1M), and Salt ($115.6M).
The top ten films grossed an estimated $93.2M over four days which was off 3% from the long Labor Day weekend last year when The Final Destination remained in the top spot with $15.3M; but up 9% from 2008’s holiday which fell a week earlier when Tropic Thunder stayed at number one for the third week in a row with $14.6M.
Written by Gitesh Pandya of Box Office Guru.