Lions Gate's `Last Exorcism' Is Top Weekend Movie With $21.3 Million Sales

“The Last Exorcism” was the top film in U.S. and Canadian theaters this weekend, earning $21.3 million in ticket sales for Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

The horror film’s performance gives Lions Gate three consecutive No. 1 weekends. “The Expendables,” directed by and starring Sylvester Stallone, finished third with $9.5 million, after two weeks in the top spot, researcher Hollywood.com Box Office said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Takers” opened in second place with $21 million for Sony. The action-crime drama stars singer Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen, who lead a group of bank robbers chased by a veteran detective, played by Matt Dillon. “The Last Exorcism,” along with “Takers,” had an unexpectedly strong opening weekend for late August, although the horror movie sales are likely to slow, said Gitesh Pandya, chief executive officer of Box Office Guru.com.

“The end of August is a dumping ground for weak movies that don’t work,” Pandya said. “It’s shocking to see two films open north of $20 million, especially non-sequels. It shows that there’s still a lot of interest out there in moviegoers to see something different.”

“The Last Exorcism” is filmed as a mock documentary and does not feature a Hollywood superstar. Rated PG-13, the movie depicts a camera crew assigned to follow a preacher performing his final exorcism before quitting the practice.

‘Word of Mouth’

Ticket sales for the film fell 24 percent from Friday’s $9.4 million to Saturday’s $7.1 million. “The deceptive marketing campaign helped the Friday opening day, but then sales collapsed on Saturday,” Pandya said of “Exorcism,” which is being advertised as a movie in the horror genre. “Word of mouth is going to kill them.”

“The Expendables,” which follows a group of mercenaries paid to overthrow a dictator in South America, has a cast that includes Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham and Steve Austin. It has taken in $82 million since Aug. 13.

“Eat Pray Love,” starring Julia Roberts, dropped to fourth place from third in its third week of release with $7 million for Sony Corp. Roberts plays Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote a memoir detailing her divorce and world travels.

“Vampires Suck” was sixth with $5.3 million for News Corp.’s Fox studio. The movie parodies the recent vampire phenomenon, specifically Summit Entertainment LLC’s “Twilight” series.

“Lottery Ticket” fell to 11th from fourth for Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. studio. Lil Bow Wow plays a teenager who wins a $370 million lottery and can’t collect the cash until the end of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

‘Avatar’ Redux

“The Other Guys” remained fifth with $6.6 million. The buddy-cop spoof starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg has earned $99.3 million for Sony in four weeks.

The rereleased “Avatar” tied “Lottery Ticket” for 11th place, breaking $753.8 million for its domestic total, “which is pretty good for a movie that everyone’s already seen,” Pandya said.

Three films debut next week, including the Wednesday opening of George Clooney’s “The American” from NBC Universal’s Focus Features. “Going the Distance,” starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, will attempt to draw in romantic-comedy fans for Warner Bros., while Fox’s “Machete” targets the adventure seekers.

Despite strong showings from the top two movies, it was the weakest sales weekend of the summer, as the overall top 10 missed the $90 million mark, Pandya said.

Weekend sales for the top 12 films fell 11 percent to $97.5 million from $109.8 million a year earlier, Hollywood.com said. Year-to-date receipts total $7.53 billion, up 4.1 percent from $7.23 billion. Attendance has fallen 1.4 percent this year.

The following table has figures provided by studios to Los Angeles-based Hollywood.com. The amounts are based on actual ticket sales for Aug. 27-28 and estimates for today.

Rev. Avg./ Pct. Total Movie (mln) Theaters Theater Chg. (mln) Wks ================================================================ 1 THE LAST EXORCISM $21.3 2,874 $7,411 -- $21.3 1 2 TAKERS 21.0 2,206 9,519 -- 21.0 1 3 THE EXPENDABLES 9.5 3,398 2,796 -44 82.0 3 4 EAT PRAY LOVE 7.0 3,108 2,252 -42 60.7 3 5 THE OTHER GUYS 6.6 3,181 2,075 -35 99.3 4 6 VAMPIRES SUCK 5.3 3,233 1,639 -57 27.9 2 7 INCEPTION 5.1 2,070 2,466 -35 270.7 7 8 NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS 4.7 2,798 1,695 -44 17.0 2 9 THE SWITCH 4.7 2,017 2,309 -45 16.5 2 10 PIRANHA 3-D 4.3 2,491 1,729 -57 18.3 2 11 LOTTERY TICKET 4.0 1,973 2,032 -62 17.4 2 12 AVATAR 4.0 812 4,926 -- 753.8 1

Top 12 Films Grosses

This Week Year Ago Pct.

(mln) (mln) Chg. ===================================

$97.5 $109.8 -11.2

Year-to-date Revenue

2010 2009

YTD YTD Pct.

(mln) (mln) Chg. ===================================

$7,528 $7,230 4.1

Year-to-date Attendance: -1.42%

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net; Courtney Dentch in New York at cdentch1@bloomberg.net.

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