AUDIENCES GIVE THE AMERICAN A ONE-FINGER SALUTE
Suggesting that word-of-mouth may be highly overrated when it comes to predicting a movie’s success, the George Clooney movie The American performed well above expectations over the four-day Labor Day weekend despite polls indicating that audiences loathed it. The film ranked No. 1 at the box office (after opening on Wednesday), earning an estimated $16.4 million over the four days and improving its standing against runner-up Machete each day after coming in second on Friday. According to BoxOfficeMojo.com, The American’s total represented the fourth-highest-grossing Labor Day launch ever. Nevertheless, today’s (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times, citing exit surveys by market research firm CinemaScore, noted that those older than 25 (who accounted for 88 percent of the film’s audience) and all women (who accounted for 45 percent) gave the film an F. The average grade for all ticket buyers was a D-. It was the first time in memory that a No. 1 film had scored so poorly with audiences and consequently represented a triumph for the marketing unit of Universal’s Focus Features division. With an estimated $14 million, Machete also performed well over the holiday, coming in at the high end of forecasts. Last week’s top film, Takers, was close behind with $13.5 million. But The Last Exorcism, which ran neck-and-neck with Takers last week, plunged 64 percent to wind up with about $8.8 million. It nevertheless appeared to edge out the opening of the Drew Barrymore starrer Going the Distance, which went nowhere with about $8.6 million.
The top ten films for the four-day Labor Day weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:
1. The American, $16.4 million; 2. Machete, $14 million; 3. Takers, $13.5 million; 4. The Last Exorcism, $8.8 million; 5. Going the Distance, $8.6 million; 6. The Expendables, $8.5 million; 7. The Other Guys, $6.7 million; 8. Eat Pray Love, $6.3 million; 9. Inception, $5.9 million; 10. Nanny McPhee Returns, $4.7 million.