As summer comes blissfully to an end, moviegoers aren't abandoning their local multiplex yet. Two new releases performed better than expected on Friday, even if they were purposely released in the dog days of August.
Lionsgate's "The Last Exorcism" surprised many with an impressive $9.4 million on Friday for what could be anywhere from an $20-25 million weekend depending on word of mouth. The horror flick received mediocre reviews, but with an incredibly low budget, could be the cash cow Lionsgate desperately needs.
In second place, Screen Gems' "Takers," who has had just enough date changes to make many question the quality of the ensemble thriller, may have benefited from a less competitive opening frame. The Chris Brown and T.I. flick grossed $7.5 million for what could be an $18-20 million debut. Reportedly shot for only $20 million, "Takers" was eviscerated by critics which could mean a short shelf life in theaters. Sony will be happy with whatever it can get from the heist picture over the next few weeks.
Dropping to third was Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables." The Millennium Films/Lionsgate action adventure found another $2.7 million for what could be anywhere from $7-8 million 3-day. "Expendables" should cross $80 million by Sunday, but it's going to take a few weeks to hit the magic $100 million mark.
In fourth, "Eat Pray Love" grossed another $2.1 million for what should be a $6-7 million. "Love" should reach $60 million by Sunday, but the six figure mark looks like a stretch at this point. The Julia Roberts romantic drama will be happy to come anywhere close to last summer's "Julie and Julia" which finished with $94 million.
Happier news for Sony Pictures came with Will Ferrell's "The Other Guys" $1.9 million Friday and what should be a $5.8 million 3-day. By Monday, "The Other Guys" should be close to $100 million and when all is said and done could finish close to Ferrell's "Blades of Glory" which made $118 million.
In just 811 3-D and IMAX screens, the re-release of "Avatar" did a so-so $1.2 million.
Look for updated weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.