'The Last Exorcism' proved a demon at the box office this weekend, though the gang of thieves from 'Takers' may end up stealing 'Exorcism's' crown. Both movies were neck and neck after Sunday's studio estimates were released, with just $300,000 worth of space between them. When final numbers are released Monday, it could be 'Takers' that's on top. (UPDATE: Sure enough, final figures released Monday saw the rankings reversed, with 'Takers' edging out 'Last Exorcism' for the win. More after the jump.)
Both films performed better than expected. 'Exorcism,' the week's only real option for horror fans, opened with an estimated $21.3 million on 2,874 screens. Lionsgate reportedly acquired the low-budget, star-free film for less than $1 million and spent another $16 million on prints and advertising, so the movie has already grossed more than Lionsgate invested in it. The film's apparent victory marks the third straight week at No. 1 for the independent studio, after its 'The Expendables' spent two weeks on top.
'Takers' took second with an opening estimated at $21 million from 2,206 locations. The heist drama also performed better than expected, with Sony's polling determining that the audience was evenly split between men and women, and between viewers over and under 25. It had the best per-screen average of any movie this week at $9,519, meaning that if it had been playing on just 32 more screens, it would have beaten 'Exorcism.' (And if the numbers fluctuate enough by the time final results are in Monday, it still could.)