George Clooney in 'The American'

Crime paid at the box office this Labor Day weekend. The top three movies were all about killers and thieves, led by George Clooney's 'The American.' The contemplative assassin drama earned an estimated $16.4 million over the four-day weekend and a total of $19.5 million since it opened last Wednesday.

Neck-and-neck for second place were fellow newcomer 'Machete' and last week's winner, 'Takers.' Robert Rodriguez's razor-sharp revenge thriller had an estimated four-day total of $14.0 million, compared to an estimated $13.5 million for the stylish heist caper. That's after three-day estimates yesterday placed 'Takers' just $150,000 ahead of 'Machete.' (In its second week, 'Takers' still had the highest per-screen average, with $6,120, and its Friday-to-Sunday total was just 44 percent less than last week's, suggesting that the film will have some staying power at the box office.) Indeed, 'Machete' and 'Takers' were so close that there could be another reversal by the time final studio figures are released on Tuesday.