'The American' tops Labor Day weekend, 'Machete' claws to number two

Star 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.

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. Last weekend's number one film, meanwhile, showed some staying power. Dropping 47 percent, Takers took in $13.5 million, for a $40 million total and third place. In fourth place, The Last Exorcism 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 (2010) 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.

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