Weekend Box Office – THE LAST EXORCISM Leads with $21.3 Million; TAKERS a Close Second; AVATAR Re-Release Not So Special

by     Posted 4 years, 91 days ago

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Two new releases hit theatres on this, the penultimate weekend of summer. A refreshing change from the FIVE films we were handed one week ago. Both The Last Exorcism and Takers performed above expectations – earning an estimated $21.3 million and $21 million, respectively. Though, overall, theatre attendance was down by 2009 standards. And what of that Special Edition of Avatar? It just missed the top ten with an estimated $4 million. January was a long time ago…

Title Weekend Total
1 Last Exorcism $21,300,000 $21.3
2 Takers $21,000,000 $21
3 The Expendables $9,500,000 $82
4 Eat Pray Love $7,000,000 $60.7
5 The Other Guys $6,600,000 $99.3
6 Vampires Suck $5,300,000 $27.9
7 Inception $5,105,000 $270.7
8 Nanny McPhee Returns $4,740,000 $17
9 The Switch $4,650,000 $16.4
10 Piranha 3D $4,300,000 $18.2

The two films that crown this weekend’s top ten were, to some extent, unknown quantities. Neither was in 3D, neither was tracking especially well and neither was guaranteed a big first weekend. In the end it looks like the numbers were on the side of Lionsgate’s The Last Exorcism.  In more ways than one.

First, the PG-13 Exorcism debuted in over 660 more locations than Takers. It’s advertising, which featured producer Eli Roth’s name prominently, played up the film’s faux-documentary style, presumably to capitalize on the success of Paranormal Activity. Still, Roth isn’t exactly a household name and the film failed to do as well as either The Haunting in Connecticut, which made $23 million in its March ’09 debut, or The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which took in $30 million in 2005.

But the real number to pay attention to is this: $1.8 million. That’s The Last Exorcism’s production budget. Lionsgate paid an additional $1 million in acquisition fees and started an effective viral marketing campaign which emphasized the film’s Blair Witch-esque “found footage” premise. My point is: this movie was cheap. Real cheap. And the fact that it didn’t make it past $30 million is largely irrelevant. Lionsgate will make out big. Not to mention that, in addition to The Expendables, their logo currently graces two of the top three films in the country.

The Last Exorcism may have had a sizable screen count advantage but the heist movie Takers actually had a higher per-screen average. With $21 million from 2,206 locations, the Sony/Screen Gems release saw about $9,519 per venue. In fact, the estimates for the two top films are close enough that Takers could conceivably overtake Exorcism when Monday’s final numbers come out.

Takers managed to turn around the recent trend of action-oriented, ensemble pics that failed in spectacular fashion. See: 2010’s The Losers, which had a lifetime gross nearly equivalent to the Takers first weekend; and Sony/Screen Gem’s own Armored. That title earned an initial $6.5 million on its way to a grand total of $15.9 domestic.

In holdover news, The Expendables fell an estimated 44%, bringing its domestic cume just over the film’s $80 million production budget. With a new total of $99.3 million, The Other Guys is steadily closing on Step Brothers’ $100.4 million gross, which would make it Will Ferrell’s second highest-grossing release behind Talladega Nights. This week Inception fell off another negligible percentage, 35%, and managed to climb from number nine to this week’s number seven. As for the crapa-palooza that comprised last weekend’s new releases? Both Lottery Ticket and Vampires Suck fell off in spectacular fashion: 62% and 57%, respectively.

After the all-Avatar January edition of Collider’s box office report, I had hoped to put the hyperbole of the world’s biggest movie behind me. This week’s oddly-timed Special Edition re-release has now made that impossible. Coming, as it did, only weeks after the DVD release, the Special Edition could only drum up an estimated $4 million from its 800 plus 3D screens; earning it a spot at number twelve and a screen average just shy of $5,000. Let that be the end then. Until the sequel… and maybe the five year anniversary and the… oh hell, I’ll never be rid of Avatar, will I?

The countdown to the end of summer begins on Wednesday with the release of George Clooney’s The American, while Friday will see Justin Long and Drew Barrymore getting cute in Going the Distance. Finally, we have the long, long awaited release of Robert Rodriguez’s Machete. Let’s hope it is half as awesome as the fake trailer that inspired it.

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  • Theduke118

    Finally, someone who treats Avatar like the fart in the elevator it really is.

  • Anonymous

    You’re aware Avatar was only shown in something like 800 theaters, correct? Given that, $4 million is nothing to turn your nose at. It’s average per theater is more than every movie in the top 10 except for the top two.

  • MCP

    I’m sure the writer, was sad when Avatar beat her angst ridding Twuntlight movie’s, combined. Also never see her write any other articles than the box office ones, no merit to anything that is written by it.

    end of line

  • Excpired

    4 mill is still somewhat unspectacular. Considering Cameron felt that he left 200 million “on the table,” and wanted to go back and get it. I’m pretty sure that 200 million has now evaporated.

  • Anonymous

    You’re taking what he said out of context. I believe he said he wanted the movie in I-Max theaters longer or something, and therefore believes he left money on the table in that regard as it was still performing well at I-Max, but theaters had made contracts to screen other movies which really cut into the sales of Avatar.

    Four million isn’t “unspectacular” when you consider the amount of theaters this is playing in, yet again. You’re really taking things and comparing them in an asinine way. If Avatar were still on I-Max screens when they started dropping it in order to switch to other movies, it probably WOULD have made significantly more. It was still selling well in theaters, so why would it not have? Waiting all this time to release the “special edition” version and have it screen in 800 theaters is not going to give it a ton of money. Doesn’t take a genius to see that. If the re-release were shown on 2,500 theaters instead of 800 and made the same amount of profit per theater, you’d get over $12 million dollars, which would easily put it in the top three.

    Please note I’m not stating anything on the quality of the movie. I’m simply commenting on the financial success of the movie, which is astounding, quite honestly. I get that some people want to hate on it, that’s fine, but let’s not skew the facts and selectively interpret statements and make silly comparisons out of them.

  • Jymmymackiv

    How is saying that Cameron thinking he could make more money be re-releasing the film taking his words out of context? That’s exactly what he said. He said that there was still money left to be made by re-releasing it on IMAX. He meant that he wanted to make more money by re-releasing it.

  • Anonymous

    Because you’re taking the timing he made that comment out of context. Are you not getting that? He did NOT mean he thought he’d make $200 million by re-releasing it. Go find the quote, and you’ll clearly see he meant that if Avatar had stayed in theaters as theaters wanted (at least, according to his implication) instead of being contractually obligated to screen movies like Alice in Wonderland and removing Avatar from their theaters to make rooms available for Alice that the movie could have made far more money.

    I think he’s right. I don’t know for sure if he would’ve gotten $200 million, but if I-Max theaters hadn’t been forced to start screening other movies due to contractual obligations, Avatar could have made far more money. It was being taken out of theaters at essentially the height of its popularity. It’s far different releasing the movie half a year after the fact than it is keeping it in theaters when it’s extremely popular.

    So, to clarify yet again: he wasn’t talking about re-releasing it. He was talking about wishing it had stayed in theaters. Go look up the comment if you don’t believe me. But, yes, he did use that remark to lead into the fact that he wanted to re-release it because there was still money on the table. But NOT $200 million left on the table for the re-release. He made that remark in regards to the original.

  • jamais

    It’s a limited release not only in terms of the number of screens, but also how many times a day the film is shown in a given location. My local cinema is playing it twice a day, other places here have between 1 and 4 screenings a day (usually 1-2).

    Another thing is its “addictive” factor. In its maiden run Avatar started fairly slowly but was getting momentum later from repeat viewings. It’ll be interesting to see if this still applies.

  • Jymmymackiv

    I did not see the original “200 million” comment. I misunderstood your argument as saying that Cameron was not trying to make money in the re-release. I agree that he is not foolish enough to think that the film would make that much money. But he WAS talking about re-releasing the film for a profit. I don’t understand how you can say that he wasn’t talking about re-releasing it, and then say that he was talking about re-releasing it. You’re contradicting yourself.
    “So, to clarify yet again: he wasn’t talking about re-releasing it. He was talking about wishing it had stayed in theaters. Go look up the comment if you don’t believe me. But, yes, he did use that remark to lead into the fact that he wanted to re-release it because there was still money on the table.” That’s just like the Rick James quote about not grinding the couch and then admitting right after that he did.

    Here’s the question and the first part of the quote from Cameron.

    “PD: Will we see an “Avatar” theatrical re-release this summer?

    JC: We’re working on finishing an additional six minutes of the film — which includes a lot of Weta work — for a theatrical re-release in August. We were sold out of our Imax performances right up to the moment until they were contractually obligated to switch to “Alice in Wonderland,” so we know we left money on the table there.”

  • Anonymous

    You’re misunderstanding yet again. Perhaps I phrased it poorly, but it was still not above your comprehension. In fact, I’m absolutely dumbfounded that you’re telling me you don’t comprehend what I said.

    He was not talking about re-releasing it in regards to the amount of money he lost (the supposed $200 million). I thought that was an obvious reference. Why would I have made mention of wishing it had stayed in theaters otherwise? Come on, you’re not the naive, and you’re obviously not dumb, so quit playing as such.

    And you’re quoting a later quote. We’re talking about the $200 million quote and you know that.

  • Jymmymackiv

    I understood what you said, but I was only aware of the one quote by James Cameron in which he mentions “leaving money on the table,” and in that quote he WAS talking about making more money on a re-release. Sorry that I don’t follow everything that he says. The guy apparently is hung up on leaving money on the table. You’d think that 2 bil is enough, right?

  • Jymmymackiv

    I understood what you said, but I was only aware of the one quote by James Cameron in which he mentions “leaving money on the table,” and in that quote he WAS talking about making more money on a re-release. Sorry that I don’t follow everything that he says. The guy apparently is hung up on leaving money on the table. You’d think that 2 bil is enough, right?

  • Killik0

    just give up hater.you have just been pawned.

  • Killik0

    exactly time.in fact Avatar as per screening average goes,it is placed no3 in the weekend’s BO.but dont tell that to the OP of the article.haters usually prefer to interpret the truth the way they like it.

  • Jymmymackiv

    Bonus points for using “pawned” and “hater” in one sentence.

  • edsh

    At last! 3D is starting to feel its downfall.
    3D is just a fad. Give it up, Cameron.

  • Killik0

    thank you.

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