It took the backing of Eli Roth and a sweetheart distribution deal from Lionsgate to get there, but The Last Exorcism did finally turn into indie gold. The film, which cost $1.8 million to make (and $1 million for Lionsgate to buy), took in $21.3 million over the weekend. The $2.8 million doesn't include the costs of marketing and distribution, of course, but that's still a lot of pure profit for everyone involved. Hopefully this will catapult obviously talented director Daniel Stamm into a career making more tight, effective genre films like this one.

Takers, which made an estimated $21 million, is another big marketing victory, this time for Screen Gems. Featuring a slew of B-level stars and a totally generic heist plot, this movie could easily have fallen through the cracks. But Screen Gems started pushing the flick early, and unleashed a barrage of slick advertising in recent weeks, emphasizing its bevy of action scenes and (uneven, truth be told) kinetic style. It worked; good on 'em.

Now with two strong holds under its belt, The Expendables looks like it will easily sail past $100 million, a perfect storm of star power, nostalgia, and audiences' insatiable hunger for simple shoot-em-up action, served up with style. The Other Guys has likewise ridden a wave of audience goodwill to $100 million and beyond -- which, if you've seen the deeply strange film, is at least a little bit remarkable.

The 800-screen release of Avatar: Special Edition didn't get a ton of press, but the highest-grossing movie of all time had enough firepower left to get up to #12 this weekend, adding $4 million to Fox's coffers. (By all accounts there wasn't much to see, or at least not much new.) The number is pretty impressive considering that Avatar (the original version) has been on DVD for over four months.

The chart after the jump.


1 - The Last Exorcism (Lionsgate) - $21.3 ($7,411) - new - $21.3
2 - Takers (Screen Gems) - $21.0 ($9,519) - new - $21.0
3 - The Expendables (Lionsgate) - $9.5 ($2,796) - 44% - $82.0
4 - Eat Pray Love (Sony) - $7.0 ($2,252) - 42% - $60.7
5 - The Other Guys (Sony) - $6.6 ($2,075) - 35% - $99.3
6 - Vampires Suck (Fox) - $5.3 ($1,639) - 57% - $27.9
7 - Inception (Warner Bros.) - $5.1 ($2,466) - 35% - $270.7
8 - Nanny McPhee Returns (Universal) - $4.7 ($1,695) - 44% - $17.0
9 - The Switch (Miramax) - $4.7 ($2,309) - 45% - $16.5
10 - Piranha (Dimension) - $4.3 ($1,729) - 57% - $18.3
11 - Lottery Ticket (Warner Bros. ) - $4.0 ($2,031) - 62% - $17.4
12 - Avatar: Special Edition (Fox) - $4.0 ($4,926) - new - $4.0

Next week: A traditionally slow Labor Day weekend will bring us George Clooney's The American, the Justin Long-Drew Barrymore rom-com Going the Distance, and the great cult hope Machete, releasing which on 2,500 screens might be a touch optimistic, but we shall see.