Box office report: 'The American' tops Labor Day weekend, 'Machete' claws to number two

the-americanImage Credit: Giles KeyteStar power still clearly counts for something. Despite a shocking “D-” CinemaScore indicating near-toxic word-of-mouth, The American rose to the top of the Labor Day weekend box office largely on star George Clooney’s handsome shoulders, making $16.4 million over the four-day holiday and $19.5 million since its Wednesday debut, according to early estimates. That’s a terrific sum for a moviegoing weekend known as one of the sleepiest of the year, even more so considering the film’s lean $20 million budget. Audiences, evenly split between men and women, were markedly outside the usual multiplex whippersnapper demographic, too: 55 percent were 50-years-old and older. But why were they apparently so turned off by the film? (Women gave it an F.) I’d look to a marketing campaign that had ticket buyers expecting a fleet spy thriller led by a dashing Clooney, à la the gritty Hollywood studio films of the 1970s. In reality, they walked into an austere character study focused on a dour Clooney, à la the esoteric European art films of the 1970s. (My mother, who liked the movie, put it this way: “The plot…well, there is no plot.”) Regardless of why audiences have soured on the film, the negative feedback doesn’t exactly bode well for its financial longevity.

After coming in third in the three-day box office estimates, the “mexploitation” thriller Machete clawed its way back to second place with an estimated $14 million over the four-day Labor Day holiday. That’s just over the opening gross of the film’s progenitor, the 2007 double-feature Grindhouse. Last weekend’s number one film, meanwhile, showed some staying power. (While the dollar figures I’ll be discussing will include projected Labor Day grosses, all the percentage drops are for the Friday to Sunday period only, to equitably compare with last weekend’s grosses.) Dropping 47 percent, Takers took in $13.5 million, for a $40 million total and third place. In fourth place, The Last Exorcist plunged 64 percent in its second weekend, which is about right for a horror film with a polarizing final act. It grossed $8.8 million through Labor Day, for a $33.6 million cume.

The third film to open over Labor Day weekend may have suffered from a marketing snafu of a different sort. Going the Distance debuted to a feeble $8.6 million over four days for fifth place, a serious underperformance and one of the worst ever wide opening weekends for stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. Tepid reviews didn’t help, but I also question the wisdom of pushing the film’s release to Labor Day weekend after billboards and bus stop ads touting the film’s release as Aug. 27 had saturated many top markets.

Thanks in part to a weak crop of opening films, the rest of the top ten showed impressive staying power. At sixth place, The Expendables dropped 30 percent with $8.5 million through Labor Day and $94.1 million total. At this rate, it’s on track to be Sylvester Stallone’s first star vehicle to gross over $100 million since 1985′s Rocky IV. (You read that right.) The Other Guys dipped just 16 percent for seventh place, laughing up $6.7 million over four days for a $108.1 million cume. At eighth, Eat Pray Love declined 29 percent, chewing up $6.3 million for a total of $70.4 million. Inception slipped a tiny 7 percent for ninth place, dreaming up $5.9 million and bringing its cume to $278.5 million. And in tenth place, Nanny McPhee Returns dropped just 24 percent, banking $4.7 million for $23.5 million total.

Next weekend, Resident Evil: Afterlife tries to take a 3-D bite out of the cineplex, and I’ll attempt to predict the box office with better accuracy than my one-two epic fail — way overestimating Going the Distance and grossly underestimating The American — from this past week.

Comments (108 total) Add your comment
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  • Kim

    How pathetic D:

    • jason


      • Kevin

        The fall movie season is ALWAYS better than the summer.

    • TheCriticizer

      George Clooney is nothing but a show-off. I don’t know why people would see his movies, they are crap!

      • markci

        Good god, another imbecile heard from.

      • Lee

        IMO, George Clooney is one of the most overrated actors in Hollywood. His good looks and connections help him get the “choice” roles–NOT his acting abilities. As revealed in THE AMERICAN, he couldn’t portray a depressed and lonely assassin if his life depended on it. Stick to the arrogant men that you normally play, Clooney.

  • E-Hustle

    All these new releases look like a waste of movie for the Labor Day weekend as most have seem to be over the recent years.

    What’s the next great movie coming out?

    • Lee

      I think it’ll be NEVER LET ME GO. I’ve been hearing terrific things about this film.

      • Ne Oublie

        Yes, I am looking forward to seeing this movie as well. It will be out in limited release starting 9/15. I am curious to see how Mark Romanek directed it.

  • E-Hustle

    Meant to say the all look like a waste of “money” for anyone to spend. xD

    • Tony

      Its a Shame so many people are watching such Sh**ty movies like the American, meanwhile the good movies like Going the Distance and Scott Pilgrim, remain unwatched. Only America.

      • Bob Jones

        Tony if you had bothered to watch the American, then perhaps you would have been pleasantly surprised. Just because something isn’t blowing up every two seconds, does not make a movie terrible. Every time a movie comes out that slightly skews the norm everyone loves to call it garbage. I thought originality was what people wanted.

      • markci

        Going the Distance????? LMAO!

        Seriously, you may want to check your wife’s purse for your balls if you sat through that thing.

      • WHAT WHAT

        Scott Pilgrim was crap!! I decided to give it a chance, I slept all the way through. Keiran Caulkin was pretty funny, that’s about it. Going the distance got bad reviews also… The American was slow paced – nice cinematography.
        MACHETE was funny.. It was a throwback of the blaksploitation films.

        The movie that suprised me the most was TAKERS! TAKERS was really good entertainment and the men were gorgeous! LOL
        One of the best heist films in a while..

  • JC

    S**t , They are people who are still going to see Inception (No Hate)

  • Haters

    YAWN. I’m going to see Eclipse again. It’s better than the rest of this crap. Clooney, wow, the movie sucks according to movie goers. Guess it’s not lasting thru Sept.

    • Alex

      You think Eclipse is a good movie? Wow.

      • m1

        You think it is one of the worst films of the year? WOW.

      • Matt

        m1 he Alex said he didn’t think it’s a good movie not that it’s the worst film of the year. Defensive much?

      • m1

        @Matt: I also said that he thought it was ONE of them, not the worst. But it was actually decent compared to the first and ESPECIALLY the second.

      • Bender

        Eclipse is a good movie (definitely better than The American or Machete), but I think you’ll have trouble seeing it again at least until the end of October.

    • Daya

      The fact that you’d see eclipse again, shows what little taste you have.
      Sure it was better then the first two,but that’s honestly not much of a compliment- it was still bad.

      • m1

        I have seen MUCH worse. The first and third were not bad at all. The second is an entirely different story.

    • markci

      According to morons who were surveyed. The average American moviegoer has a room-temperature IQ.

      • m1

        Speak for yourself. Oh, wait…you just did.

  • Chelsea

    UGH…The American was a terrible movie. DON’t SEE IT! I wish I would have read more reviews before I wasted my $10.

    • GGG

      It was the most boring movie I’d seen in years. BO-RING. No plot, no charisma, just plods along. AWFUL.

  • jcdc13

    No matter how exciting they try to make a George Clooney movie look in advertisements, it always winds up being a boring character study. Those giving it a D- should know better by now. Other than Oceans 11 and 13, has he really done a decent movie in the last 15 years?

    • Jose

      Fantastic Mr. Fox was awesome as was Up in the Air. Oh and Micheal Clayton.

      • Jose

        Oh and I dug Good Night and Good Luck.

      • jcdc13

        I’ll give you Fantastic Mr. Fox, but the other three: zzzzzzzzz. Up in the Air and Michael Clayton would probably have better with another actor. GNGL was unfixably boring.

    • Vighorois

      You haven’t seen Out Of Sight? Probably Jennifer Lopez’s only decent movie in the last 15 years.

      • alan smithee

        Yeah, Out of Sight was smart and sexy. I watch it every time it’s on.

      • jcdc13

        You’re right. My fault. It seems like it was such a long time since his last good movie that I thought it was older than it is (12 years)

    • Minnie

      In addition to those mentioned by Jose, Syriana was also good (polarizing). Perfect Storm was decent too.

    • Hutchy

      Let me guess: your a Republican pissed about Clooney’s political stands? Usually, every time someone gets on one of these boards bashing Clooney, if you do a little digging, 97% of the time it turns out to be a resentful Rush Limbaugh follower.

      • Lee

        I’m a die-hard Democrat and I still hate Clooney. There’s far better actors than him that deserve the roles that he’s getting but aren’t. I personally think Ralph Fiennes would’ve done a much better job in THE AMERICAN than Clooney.

    • merleb

      Yes he has. I saw The American. Loved it. Ebert gave it 4 stars. It’s a film for adults.

    • Janizzle

      I liked the Men Who Stare at Goats!

      • jcdc13

        No, I’m not a George Clooney basher. Or a republican. Some of these are good movies. I also liked the Perfect Storm, but I thought it was older.
        But Syriana? Seriously? Again nice idea for a movie turned into a boring film. And The Men Who Stare At Goats. EW gave it an “F” and for good reason.

    • Shea

      “Up in the Air” was one of the best movies I’ve seen in years. And Clooney would have won Best Actor for that film had it not been for Jeff Bridges’ long overdue victory.

  • Tony Franco

    No way I dont really agree = somebody at the top is saying something wrong – machete is number 1

  • m1

    CinemaScore must be stupid.

    • Mike

      I actually only heard positive reviews of The American. Odd.

      • Brad in Ohio

        I was lucky enough to read all the terrible things said about The American on this website yesterday. A friend wanted to see it last night so I reluctantly joined her, expecting the worst, knowing it was going to be slow instead of the action thriller it appeared to be in the ads. I can see why people didn’t like it, and I’m not putting anyone down for disliking it(as often happens on these pages), but I really enjoyed it. It was quiet and slow but I was never bored and I found the ending, although predictable, rather poignant. I would give it a B+, but I am a Clooney fan. That’s one 40-something man’s humble opinion.

  • Radzinsky

    Has he really done a decent movie in the last 15 years? REALLY? LOL! You’re a freaking moron. Ever heard of “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Michael Clayton,” “Up in the Air?” Get the hell outta here.

  • tomm

    He wants critical acclaim, not BO $ from the unwashed masses who worship ‘blow dem up’ flicks.

  • BenCM

    I really liked The American but readily admit it’s not for everyone. There’s no action really, just well-shot vistas, light intrigue, beautiful women glossed with a euro-chic snobbery. So if you’re into that (I am in small doses) go see it, but it’s no Ocean’s 11. :)

    • david

      well The American is at 61% on rottentomatos right now, so i’m not sure sure about these D- and Fs.

      • dally

        I think it could be because of the diffence between the expectations the marketing campaign is generating vs what is being delivered. The critics may have overlooked this, but those of us who devoted to boring hours to the movie will not.

  • albie

    George Clooney is a nob — only reason it was #1 is because nothing better was out. That guy is so full of himself…

    • markci

      Gee, that’s for that insight into his character. The rest of us only know his screen persona, whereas you clearly know him personally. Oh wait, you don’t? Ok, then, maybe you’re just a random idiot.

  • stu

    OUT OF SIGHT was CRAP! i turned it off seeing the 1st scene..them digging out of jail.

    • Jim

      I don’t remember much about this movie, so maybe it was crap, but if you turned it off after the first scene, then you have no idea whether it was good or not.

  • jacie

    Why should we care if this pathetic film is number one or not where there is a moron in the White House?

    • MAK

      This is about the box office, not politics. Spare me your misinformed politic values.

    • Brad

      Umm, Jacie, if you don’t care what’s number one, why did you read this article?

    • Jerry

      Don’t feed the troll.

    • Jim Shelley

      Dude, George Bush hasn’t been the president for a couple years now!

      • Rich

        Jim for the win.

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