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The American: George Clooney Thriller Tops Tepid Chart

The American George ClooneyThe American with George Clooney: Anton Corbijn’s Sweden-/Italy-set crime drama was the no. 1 box office movie over the – as usual – languid (U.S.) Labor Day weekend.
  • The American and Takers box office: Starring George Clooney and Hayden Christensen respectively, these two modestly budgeted crime dramas managed to top the domestic chart – the latter title, by a thread – in spite of relatively tepid interest from audiences.
  • In other late summer box office news, the Twilight Saga spoof Vampires Suck flopped domestically. But could it still turn out a profit?

The American: George Clooney crime drama topped this year’s sleepy Labor Day weekend

Sept. 3–5 weekend box office: Greeted by humdrum reviews upon its debut last Wednesday, Anton Corbijn’s crime drama The American was the no. 1 movie this past Labor Day weekend, grossing a lukewarm $13.2 million from 2,721 theaters, as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

The American’s total after six days (including Labor Day Monday) stands at a mere $19.8 million. Oscar winner George Clooney (Syriana, 2005) and Violante Placido star in this Focus Features release.

For comparison’s sake: Two other recent George Clooney movies also opened in the low teens, Grant Heslov’s political satire The Men Who Stare at Goats ($12.6 million in 2009) and the Clooney-directed romantic comedy Leatherheads ($12.7 million in 2008). Both titles turned out to be box office disappointments: In the U.S. and Canada, the former reached $32.4 million; the latter $31.4 million.

The American will likely fare no better. The silver lining: It reportedly cost a modest $20 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses).

Besides George Clooney and Violante Placido, The American also features Irina Björklund, Johan Leysen, Filippo Timi, Thekla Reuten, and veteran Paolo Bonacelli (Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom; Midnight Express).

Machete fails to lure moviegoers – but low cost could still make it profitable

For the record, the no. 2 movie on the Labor Day weekend chart was Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez’s action thriller Machete, which took in $11.4 million from 2,670 sites.

Despite its mostly name cast – Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Don Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin – the $10 million budget Machete is about to die the box office death.

International prospects are all but nil.

Update: The American ultimately collected $35.6 million domestically and $32.3 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $67.9 million.

Machete ultimately collected $26.6 million domestically and an even weaker – yet better than expected – $18.9 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $45.5 million.

That’s not bad at all for a $10 million production. That is, depending on how much was actually spent on its marketing and distribution.

The Last Exorcism vs. Takers box office: Two no. 1 movies?

Aug. 20–22 weekend box office: As the domestic summer box office begins to wind down, two modest titles topped this past weekend’s chart.

Two?

John Luessenhop’s heist thriller Takers was the de facto no. 1 movie with $20.5 million, but Daniel Stamm’s horror thriller The Last Exorcism was a pretty close runner-up with $20.4 million.

Budgeted at a reported $32 million and distributed by Screen Gems/Sony Pictures, Takers features Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker, Oscar nominee Matt Dillon (Crash, 2005), Chris Brown, and Idris Elba.

Budgeted at a reported $1.8 million and distributed by Lionsgate – which, viral Chatroulette video or no (see above), surely spent far more on marketing than the usual for such a small movie – The Last Exorcism features Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, and Caleb Landry Jones.

Update: Takers ultimately collected an okay $57.7 million domestically and a paltry $11.3 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $69.1 million. Overall, hardly a hit, even for a mid-level production.

The Last Exorcism ultimately collected $41 million domestically and $28.4 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $69.4 million – thus (if worldwide figures for both titles are indeed complete) beating Takers by about $370,000.

Twilight spoof fails to entice Twihards & Twihaters alike – yet it could still be a moneymaker

Aug. 20–22 weekend box office: Early non-official weekend estimates had the Twilight Saga spoof Vampires Suck, which opened last Wednesday to abysmal reviews, running neck and neck with last weekend’s champ, Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables. That proved to be inaccurate.

Written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, Vampires Suck drew in a meager $12.2 million from 3,223 venues at no. 2 (vs. The Expendables’ $17 million at no. 1), while totaling only $18.6 million over the course of its first five days out.

Featuring Jenn Proske (the dazed human), Matt Lanter (the sulking vampire), and Chris Riggi (the studly werewolf), Vampires Suck has one advantage over The Expendables: Its low cost. After only five days, the Regency Enterprises/20th Century Fox comedy has nearly matched its reported $20 million budget.

An aside: Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, the two most recent installments in the Twilight Saga franchise – New Moon and Eclipsebroke several records upon their release.

Also in the Vampires Suck cast: Diedrich Bader, Ken Jeong, Anneliese van der Poland, and The Kids in the Hall veteran David Foley.

Update: Vampires Suck ultimately collected a modest $36.7 million domestically and a slightly less modest $43.9 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $80.5 million. Its top international territory was Germany ($8.1 million).

These are hardly Twilight Saga-caliber figures, but they’re not bad at all for a $20 million production.


The American: George Clooney Thriller” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “The American: George Clooney Thriller Tops Tepid Chart” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should usually be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources.

Comments about The American, Machete, Takers, The Last Exorcism, Vampires Suck, and other titles being profitable or money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, international pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses can be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is accounted for). Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take; however, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

George Clooney The American movie image: Screen Gems | Sony Pictures.

The American: George Clooney Thriller Tops Tepid Chart” last updated in June 2022.

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2 comments

Jennh -

The Switch and Scott Pilgrim vs the World are huge flops. That is what happens when lazy studios hire Michael Cera and Jennifer Anniston to play the same character for the millionth time. I saw Takers and it was pretty good. LE looks like a good horror. No surprises to me. Lionsgate bought The Last Exorcism for less than $1 mil. Most of the advertising was viral like those reaction videos and the trailer. They should already be in the black and enjoying a profit.

Reply
Marya -

definitely like the point of this article, although I would say The American was something new and original and wouldn’t really lump it in with those other action pictures you listed.

I’m glad we’re starting to get into awards quality film season, we really need.

also, I hate to quibble, but this new RE movie is the 4th in the series, not the third.

Reply

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