George Clooney shoots first at box office

Sun Sep 5, 2010 3:41pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - George Clooney outgunned his rivals at the Labor Day holiday weekend box office in North America with a low-caliber opening for his assassin drama "The American," as the lucrative summer moviegoing season wound down on a traditionally weak note.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, "The American" earned $13 million during the three-day period beginning September 3; its tally stands at $16.1 million since Wednesday, when it got a two-day head-start on the competition.

The opening is slightly better than industry forecasts, but is similar to that of his 2008 flop "Leatherheads," which ended its brief run with $31.3 million.

The film, in which Clooney plays a stone-faced gun enthusiast holed up in a picturesque Italian town, was directed by rock photographer Anton Corbijn. It was released by Focus Features, the art-house unit of General Electric Co's NBC Universal.

Also new were 20th Century Fox's violent fantasy "Machete" at No. 3 with $11.3 million, and Warner Bros.' Drew Barrymore romantic comedy "Going the Distance" at No. 5 with just $6.9 million. Both opened on Friday.

"Machete," a bloody homage to 1970s B-movies using the immigration debate as a backdrop, stars character actor Danny Trejo as a Mexican assassin with a penchant for dispatching people with sharp objects. Robert Rodriguez directed with Ethan Maniquis. Fox said the audience was 60 percent Latino.

"Going the Distance" stars Barrymore and Justin Long as bi-coastal lovers. It is the latest in a string of rom-com flops for the actress, including "Lucky You," "Music and Lyrics" and "Fever Pitch."


Last weekend's champion, the Screen Gems heist drama "Takers," slipped to No. 2 with $11.5 million, taking its 10-day total to $37.9 million.   Continued...

<p>Actor George Clooney poses backstage after receiving the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award at the 62nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California, August 29, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>