Following the aesthetics of pseudo-doc horror hits like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield and the social media hype of Paranormal Activity, The Last Exorcism eked out a close race to the top of last weekend’s box office, earning $21.3 million. In the past, when low-budget movies—it cost $1.8 million, and by the looks of it, $1.6 million of that was embezzled—broke through with mainstream audiences, it was considered an anomaly. But The Last Exorcism was cannily designed for box-office glory, suggesting an odd template for other viral sensations to come. (Though its “D” CinemaScore predicts a likely freefall in Week Two. On the other hand, CinemaScore is the dumbest polling outfit this side of Rasmussen, and a “D” reflects frustrated expectations, which makes the film more intriguing rather than less.) Finishing a mere $300,000 behind The Last Exorcism—a margin that will shift some more when estimates become actuals—the T.I. crime thriller Takers earned $21 million for third, and had the highest per screen average of any wide release with $9,500 to Exorcism’s $7,400. And in just 800 theaters, the special edition reissue of Avatar added another $4 million to its coffers, not enough to break into the Top 10.
Not much action in limited release. Mesrine: Killer Instinct, the first half of a two-part biopic about infamous French criminal Jacques Mesrine, took a middling $5,350 per screen on 28 screens. The second half, Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1, follows on Friday.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.