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George Clooney and The American strike gold

George Clooney lured in tons of moviegoers, in spite of poor reviews for The American and the infamous quiet of Labor Day weekend. Machete stayed in the game as well, coming in second at the box office. The weekend’s other new release, Going the Distance, barely made the top five.

With all the barbeques to attend and back-to-school checklists to complete, Labor Day weekend is one of the hardest opening weekends for a movie. Somehow, the poorly reviewed fall movie kick-offThe American, still managed to get decent opening numbers.

George Clooney stars in The American

That somehow seems to be a combo of the George Clooney factor and confusing advertising. Most didn’t quite know what to expect from The American. The quick, stylized adverts made viewers think of an American James Bond, with Clooney as our hunky spy lead.

Early reviews from critics and moviegoers were a warning to stay away, but fans turned out anyway, making the movie number one this weekend, with a take of $13.1 million. Tack on The American‘s numbers from its Wednesday release, and the slow, character study has already brought in $19.5 million, which means it will surely cover its $20 million production budget.

Robert Rodriguez’s Machete nabbed second place, coming in just behind The American with $11.4 million. That’s pretty impressive, considering Machete was originally a faux movie preview for Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 ode to horror, Grindhouse.

It may have helped that the film had Robert DeNiro and Lindsay Lohan in its cast, but Machete also owes some of its success to being a genre film. It seems the masses are interested in Rodriguez’s retro, Mexploitation style.

Last week’s winner Takers dropped to third with $13.5 million. Estimates had initially counted Takers in second last week, but the heist flick ultimately stole the top spot with real numbers. Its total take so far is $40 million.

Last weekend’s other big winner, The Last Exorcism, dropped to fourth after taking a big hit. Labor Day weekend brought in a mere $8.8 million, but the film’s total take so far is not bad, at $33.6 million.

The weekend’s other new release, Drew Barrymore’s rom-com Going the Distance, did not go the, errr… distance. It premiered with a meager $6.9 million but still managed to grab a spot in the bottom of the top five.

Going the Distance stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long

The Expendables continues to stay in the game. It dropped from third to sixth with $6.7 million this weekend, for a total take of $92.2 million, so far. The Other Guys landed in seventh with $5.3 million. Eat Pray Love dropped to eighth with $4.8 million.

The Leonardo DiCaprio psychological stunner Inception closed its eighth week at the box office in ninth place. This weekend’s $4.6 million puts Inception‘s gross take at $277.1 million. The much less successful Nanny McPhee Returns came in tenth, with $3.5 million.

Next week Resident Evil: Afterlife hits theaters in 3-D, but there are also a handful of alterna-flicks hitting theaters in limited release. The Romantics sets off a love triangle between Katie Holmes, Josh Duhamel and Anna Paquin and then there’s Casey Affleck’s documentary (or mockumentary?) on Joaquin Phoenix, I’m Still Here; the French action rom-com Heartbreaker (L’arnacoeur); the French story of drug addiction The Hideaway (Le Refuge); and the Australian rockin road trip flick Bran Nue Dae, which stars Geoffrey Rush.

Box Office top ten

1. The American, $13.1 million
2. Machete, $11.4 million
3. Takers, $10.9 million
4. The Last Exorcism, $7.4 million
5. Going the Distance, $6.9 million
6. The Expendables,  $6.7 million
7. The Other Guys, $5.3 million
8. Eat Pray Love, $4.8 million
9. Inception, $4.6 million
10. Nanny McPhee Returns, $3.5 million

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