‘Last Exorcism’ First at Friday Box Office While ‘Takers’ Takes Second

Lionsgate’s The Last Exorcism is performing much better than I predicted it would with a $9.4 million return at the Friday box-office and a chance at $23-25 million weekend. What impresses me and confuses me is the fact Last Exorcism has almost beat Piranha 3D‘s opening weekend in its opening day.

What is it that drew audiences to the exorcism flick and had them staying away from Piranha by comparison? Was it the 3D ticket price? The R-rating? Are people simply embarrassed to say they watched a movie called Piranha 3D? What is it?

As for Piranha 3D‘s performance, it took a massive tumble and will hope to eek out a $3.5 million weekend after taking $1.3 million on Friday. Fellow second weeker, The Switch, wasn’t much better with a $1.5 million Friday, slightly besting Inception‘s $1.4 million.

Coming in second with a much higher than expected performance is Screen Gems’s new release Takers with $7.5 million and a shot at hitting a $20 million opening, though I expect it will top out around $18 million for the weekend. This is a film that, at the most, was tracking to hit around $11 million, but people were obviously drawn to the PG-13 heist actioner. I had fun with its silliness and I expect most that went to saw it did as well.

Personally, I contributed to the Avatar coffers by going to an IMAX screening of the new special edition, which ended up taking $1.2 million on Friday and may hit $4 million for the weekend. This means Avatar will be battling it out with Piranha 3D, Nanny McPhee Returns and The Switch for that ninth and tenth slots as those other three aren’t exactly having stellar week two performances.

As for that Avatar special edition, I enjoyed myself greatly. The nine minutes of new footage do add quite a bit of context and character development and I’m excited to see the Earth scenes on the upcoming Blu-ray as Cameron described to The Oregonian recently:

We call it ‘the Earth opening.’ It’s about 4 1/2 minutes of stuff. And it was in for the longest time. It was very late in the day that we took it out. I walked in one day and said to my two editors, ‘Guys, I want each of you to cut a new version of the start of the film, Reel 1, that doesn’t have any Earth in it at all.’ And they looked at me like I was out of my mind. And I said, ‘No — it’s gonna work.’ They had to figure out the details. I said, ‘Just grab a couple of things to use as flashbacks, and start it in space when Jake opens his eyes.’

Unfortunately that stuff isn’t in this “special edition” but will be on November 16 DVD/Blu-ray release.

Below are the top eleven from the Friday box-office and Laremy will be here on Sunday for a complete wrap-up

  1. The Last Exorcism – $9.4 million
  2. Takers – $7.5 million
  3. The Expendables – $2.7 million
  4. Eat, Pray, Love – $2.1 million
  5. The Other Guys – $1.9 million
  6. Vampires Suck – $1.7 million
  7. The Switch – $1.5 million
  8. Inception – $1.4 million
  9. Nanny McPhee Returns – $1.3 million
  10. Piranha 3D – $1.3 million
  11. Avatar – $1.2 million