Weekend Box Office – THE AMERICAN Slices Past MACHETE with $12.9 Million

     September 5, 2010

Attendance picked up on Saturday after a typically slow start to the Labor Day weekend on Friday. George Clooney’s The American was able to pull ahead of fellow newcomer Machete, resulting in a clear weekend win for the understated action movie.

Title Weekend Total
1 The American $12,900,000 $16
2 Machete $12,300,000 $12.3
3 Takers $11,400,000 $37.8
4 The Last Exorcism $7,700,000 $32.4
5 Going the Distance $7,100,000 $7.1
6 The Expendables $7,000,000 $92.5
7 The Other Guys $5,100,000 $106.5
8 Eat Pray Love $4,800,000 $68.9
9 Inception $4,700,000 $277.2
10 Nanny McPhee Returns $3,800,000 $22.6

The estimates for the top two new releases of the weekend – The American and Machete – were so close on Friday that it is still debatable which film came out on top. But who cares about Friday at this point? It’s the weekend winner who gets to tack that all important “Number One Film in America” line onto their TV spots, after all.

And it looks like that honor will go to The American. With an estimated $12.9 million through Sunday, Clooney’s American was able to slip past Robert Rodriguez’s Machete – though again, the difference we’re talking about here is fairly negligible.

The American launched on Wednesday and is projected to take in close to $20 million by the time Labor Day festivities wrap up. That puts it well ahead of the $11.5 million taken in after six days by Traitor – another espionage flick which launched the Wednesday before Labor Day. The American also came in on line with past Clooney releases like The Men Who Stare at Goats ($12.7 million in three days/$16.3 in six) and Leatherheads ($12.6 in three/$15 in six); though both of those films had traditional Friday releases and neither came out anywhere near summertime. So it’s like comparing apples and oranges and… goats.

After pulling off a contested number one win on Friday, Machete fell to number two for the weekend. Rodriguez’s badass took in an estimated $12.3 million in his first three days with a gross of $14.5 million projected by the close of Labor Day. That will put it solidly ahead of Grindhouse, the film which first introduced the title character. That double-feature made $11.5 million on its first weekend in April of 2007, with a final gross of just over $25 million.

Machete cost about $25 to make – considerably less than Grindhouse – and should be able to top that final gross; provided it can avoid the calamitous 71% drop that befell Rodriguez’s Predators on its second weekend earlier this summer. The upcoming Resident Evil: Afterlife will also blunt Machete’s edge a bit, along with the continuing presence of The Expendables.

Speaking of The Expendables, the last big hit of the summer edged closer to $100 million this weekend. Sly and the boys came it at number six with an estimated $7 million and a new running cume of $92.5 million.

That put it right behind Fox’s romantic comedy Going the Distance. The new Drew Barrymore/Justin Long release placed fifth with an estimated $7.1 million through Sunday. That was lower than the $8.4 million the certified loser The Switch brought in two weekends ago. It is also low enough to ensure that 2010 will go down as one of the worst summers on record for the executives at Fox. They couldn’t coast on Avatar forever…

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