MONDAY 2ND UPDATE: Here are the actuals for this weekend. Sony/Screen Gems’ Takers won despite a 668 locations advantage in The Last Exorcism‘s favor. I hear Joe Drake at Lionsgate phoned Jeff Blake this morning to congratulate him.
#1 Takers (Screen Gems/Sony) -32% Sunday for $20.5M
#2 The Last Exorcism (Lionsgate) -45% Sunday for $20.3M
SUNDAY AM/SUNDAY PM: Overall the weekend is looking at $110M, down -20% from last year as the summer box office comes to a close. Below is the Top 10 with Friday’s, Saturday’s, weekend, and cume numbers for North American grosses. Coming in 11th was The Weinstein Co/Dimension’s Piranha 3D (-60% from last week, so how does that qualify for a sequel?) and in 12th was Fox’s re-release of Jim Cameron’s Avatar: Special Edition with an extra 9 minutes of footage. It was booked into 812 IMAX and 3D theaters in the U.S. and Canada. It made $1.2M Friday and $1.5M Saturday for a $3.8M domestic weekend despite the higher 3D ticket prices and a new domestic cume of $753.5M. As one rival studio exec tells me, “No tears shed” for this pittance considering the original Avatar holds the biggest worldwide box office record of $2.7B. Fox, move on…
1. The Last Exorcism (Lionsgate) NEW [2,874 Theaters]
Friday $9.4M, Saturday $7.1M, Est Sunday $4.8M, Weekend $21.3M
Lionsgate had 2 films in the Top 3 this weekend and ruled the box office for 3 straight weeks thanks to a pair of niche acquisitions. As expected, The Last Exorcism won the weekend with a slightly lower than hoped for $21.3M after Saturday’s domestic box office fell -25% from Friday’s. But it beat Takers only because of its theater count advantage because moviegoers gave Last Exorcism a really rare CinemaScore of “D”, meaning they hated it. Then again, Lionsgate acquired domestic distribution rights to the pic for under $1M. It was PG-13, and not Eli Roth’s Hostel torture porn Hard “R”, so it sold more tickets. Interesting that Roth had told me he’d sworn off horror films. Yet here he was producing this shaky cam film from a script by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland (formally titled Cotton) about a minister who permits a documentary crew to cover his final exorcism. German director Daniel Stamm did duty. Lionsgate is still in the throes of a hostile takeover attempt by Carl Icahn, so it’s trying to position this weekend’s win “as a coup given its context”. It’s spinning that it’s back to its “do more with less” origins (“fraction of the big studio budget, fraction of the staff,’ as an LG staffer told me). But has anyone explained that to big spender Joe Drake who dismantled a lot of Lionsgate’s low-budget, high-profit franchises? Lionsgate has been using a lot of outside vendors for its marketing, which led to out-of-the-box thinking on The Expendables. To promote Last Exorcism, the studio pulled a stunt on a random video chat site that generated almost 2.5 million viewings on YouTube and other sites. “Chat Roulette is virtually untouched by corporate marketers so far because of its inherently unfiltered/impossible-to-control nature,” a Lionsgate exec tells me. “And this has been widely cited as an example of guerilla marketing at its absolute best: getting a film without recognizable stars on people’s radar quickly and for almost no money.”
2. Takers (Screen Gems/Sony) NEW [2,206 Theaters]
Friday $7.5M, Saturday $7.7M, Weekend $20.3M
Sony/Screen Gems’ Takers on Saturday was up +4% from Friday which put the crime thriller at $20.3M for the weekend if Sunday holds. That’s a surprisingly close second-place finish considering it had been tracking so weakly prior to release. The genre film label thought all was lost, especially after it had waited years for filmmaker John Luessenhop to take care of his ill son. But this is why Sony Pictures pays marketing/distribution czar Jeff Blake the big bucks: He sent rap star T.I. on 10-city, 20-day tour to promote the pic. According to my sources, Matt Dillon was scared to do publicity for it, Hayden Christensen hated the pic, Chris Brown was otherwise engaged, and Paul Walker was busy making Fast & Furious 5. So that left Idris and T.I., who’d just signed a 3-picture deal with Sony and whose Grand Hustle Entertainment was Taken‘s producer along with Wil Packer’s Rainforest Films. “Screen Gems told T.I., ‘We’re going to market this movie on your back.’ He went and busted his nuts.” Idris personally hosted nearly 15 screenings in major cities around the country in the days leading up to the opening. The pic’s CinemaScore was only “B” and its budget was one of Screen Gems’ most expensive (around $30M). Sony has 3 films in the Top 5 this weekend, capping an amazingly successful summer because of Blake’s brilliant efforts.
3. The Expendables (Lionsgate) Week 3 [3,398 Theaters]
Friday $2.7M, Saturday $4M, Weekend $9.5M, Cume $82M
With a -44% hold, Sly Stallone’s action ensemble romp just keeps going, and going… Nice.
4. Eat Pray Love (Sony) Week 3 [3,108 Theaters]
Friday $2.1M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $6.8M, Cume $60.5M
With a -43% hold, Julia Roberts is looking less like a has-been by the week. Sony says it’s ahead of Julie & Julia.
5. The Other Guys (Sony) Week 4 [3,181 Theaters]
Friday $1.9M, Saturday $2.7M, Weekend $6.2M, Cume $98.9M
6. Vampires Suck (Fox) Week 2 [3,233 Theaters]
Friday $1.6M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $5.3M (-56%), Cume $27.9M
7. Inception (Warner Bros) Week 7 [2,070 Theaters]
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $2M, Weekend $5.1M (-44%), Cume $270.7M
8. Nanny McPhee Returns (Working Title/Universal) Week 2 [2,798 Theaters]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $1.9M, Weekend $4.7M (-17%), Estimated Cume $17M
9. The Switch (Miramax) Week 2 [2,017 Theaters]
Friday $1.4M, Saturday $1.9M, Weekend $4.6M (-45%), Cume $16.4M
10. Lottery Ticket (Warner Bros) Week 2 [1,973 Theaters]
Friday $1.1M, Saturday $1.7M, Weekend $4M (-62%), Cume $17.4M