"Last Exorcism" edges out "Takers" at box office

Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:42pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Last Exorcism" beat fellow newcomer "Takers" by just $300,000 to end the two-week reign of Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables" at the weekend box office in North America on Sunday.

With the lucrative summer moviegoing season ending next weekend, the A-list blockbusters have ceded the spotlight to a late influx of low-budget genre pictures vying for a last-minute piece of the action.

The psychological thriller "The Last Exorcism," shot in a faux-documentary style with a group of no-name actors, earned an estimated $21.3 million during its first three days of release, distributor Lionsgate said.

It edged the Sony Pictures heist thriller "Takers," which made off with $21 million. Figures and rankings could change on Monday when final data are released.

The movies came in at the upper end of expectations and should quickly become profitable. Women accounted for 52 percent of the audience for both of them. "Last Exorcism" skewed younger, with two-thirds of its audience under age 25, while the figure was 51 percent for "Takers."

"Last Exorcism" was independently made for about $2 million and acquired for U.S. distribution by Lionsgate for a similar amount. But the film earned a poor "D" rating in exit surveys conducted by tracking firm Cinemascore, according to Lionsgate.

"We were shocked," said David Spitz, the company's president of domestic theatrical distribution, noting that it earned strong reviews from critics and plenty of attention through online marketing efforts.

A little more than half the audience was Latino, reflecting the film's religious underpinnings.

"Takers," with a cast including Matt Dillon, Paul Walker and Idris Elba, cost about $32 million to make. It was handled by Sony's low-budget Screen Gems arm.   Continued...

<p>Director of the movie Daniel Stamm poses at the premiere of "The Last Exorcism" at the Arclight theatre in Hollywood, California August 24, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>