[Editor's note: After this story was published, recalculated box-office numbers put "Takers" over "The Last Exorcism," with $20.5 million to the horror movie's $20.3 million. "Takers" star T.I. called MTV News to thank fans for making his heist flick #1.]
It was a close weekend race at the box office, but in the end the powers of evil overtook the powers of, well, less evil. The Eli Roth-produced, Daniel Stamm-directed horror mockumentary "The Last Exorcism" took the #1 position this weekend with $21.3 million in ticket sales spread out over 2,874 screens. Trailing only slightly behind in the #2 position was the heist flick "Takers," with a take of $21 million from 2,206 screens.
Even though it emerged on top, "Exorcism" is a bigger winner than it seems to be. While no budget has been reported, the single camera format, absence of big stars and minimal special effects couldn't have driven the film's cost very high. Even factoring in marketing — which has been largely focused online with viral campaigns like a prank staged on Chatroulette — a $20+ million box-office take is a considerable win.
"Takers," by comparison, boasts a star-studded ensemble that draws from both Hollywood and the music biz. Chris Brown and T.I. star alongside Hayden Christensen, Idris Elba, Matt Dillon and Zoe Saldana in a crime drama about a high-level, high-stakes bank robbery. The film's budget is reported to hover around $20 million.
It's a sharp dip after that for positions three through five, which are filled by movies that came out earlier in August. The action throwback "The Expendables" came in at #3 with $9.5 million, slightly more than half of what it earned last week. Still, with a total gross of roughly $82 million — more than double its reported budget — in just 17 days, the Sylvester Stallone-directed/ written/ starring flick is no small success.
Spots four and five went to a pair of Sony releases, "Eat Pray Love" and "The Other Guys," which brought in $7 million and $6.6 million, respectively. The surprise for the weekend was the theatrical re-release of "Avatar." Opening on roughly 800 screens with the benefit of 3-D and an added nine minutes of footage, the movie only managed to pull in $4 million, good enough for a #12 spot on the weekend list.
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