Eli Roth hasn't directed a film since 2007's "Grindhouse," but his Hollywood career hasn't slowed down.Â Besides a significant on screen role in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" and now he's co-produced one of the biggest cash cow's in Lionsgate's history.
"The Last Exorcism" surprised many with a strong $22.3 million to top the box office this weekend.Â The horror flick received mediocre reviews, but with a reported $1.8 million budget, "Exorcism" is already far into the black for the studio.Â And following the success of "The Expendables," it should be enough to calm the battle between the Lionsgate board and rogue stockholder Carl Icahn (at least for a day or so).
In second place, Screen Gems' "Takers," which had just enough date changes to make many question the quality of the ensemble thriller, may have benefited from a less competitive opening frame.Â The Chris Brown and T.I. flick grossed $22 million.Â That's obviously incredibly close to the estimate for "Exorcism"Â and could mean a new winner when actual ticket sales are revealed on Monday.
Dropping to third was Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables."Â The Millennium Films/Lionsgate action adventure found another $9.5 million for a new total of $82 million.
In fourth, "Eat Pray Love" grossed another $6.9 million and a new three week total of $60 million. Passing the $100 million mark seems like a reach at this point, but Sony Pictures will be happy to see the Julia Roberts romantic drama come anywhere close to last summer's "Julie and Julia" which finished with $94 million.
Happier news for SonyÂ came with Will Ferrell's "The Other Guys" which grossed $6.6 million over the 3-day for the fifth slot.Â By Monday, "The Other Guys" should have passed $100 million and when all is said and done could finish close to Ferrell's "Blades of Glory" which made $118 million.
The "Avatar"Â re-release didn't even crack the top 10, pulling in just $4 million in approximately 800 3-D and IMAXÂ theaters.
Next weekend's new releases include the Drew Barrymore and Justin Long romantic comedy "Going the Distance" and Robert Rodriquez's "Machete."
Look for updated weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.