Ben Affleck really went to town at the box office this weekend. The actor/director/co-screenwriter of 'The Town' saw his crime drama perform much better than expected in its debut, taking in an estimated $23.8 million to open in first place and upsetting the widely predicted winner, fellow newbie 'Easy A.'

Affleck's film, his second as a director, was expected to open in second place with a take of around $15 to $17 million. Credit its overperformance to strong reviews and positive word of mouth, as well as its status as the first serious dramatic Oscar hopeful to come out of the gate this season. In fact, the movie wound up doing better in its first three days than the $20.3 million that Affleck's previous film, the similar Boston crime thriller 'Gone Baby Gone,' earned during its entire run in 2007.

It was 'Easy A' that was supposed to have an easy path to No. 1 this weekend. It's the only new comedy, with a youth-friendly PG-13 rating, broad appeal to teens of both sexes (and to adults who remember the John Hughes teen comedies of the '80s to which 'Easy A' frequently tips its hat) and positive reviews, especially for its appealing star, Emma Stone. Although the movie had to settle for second place, it still earned about as much as expected, taking in an estimated $18.2 million.

categories Box Office, New Releases