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The American edges out Machete, $16.7M to $14.1M

The George Clooney-starrer The American opened ahead of Robert Rodriguez’s Machete over the Labor Day holiday, drawing $13.178M over the three-day weekend and $16.667M over the 4-day. After opening on Wednesday of last week, total domestic cume stands just shy of $20M at $19.806M.

Surprisingly, the $20M-budgeted Anton Corbijn-directed thriller actually marks Clooney’s first trip to the top of the box office charts as the solo lead.

Machete opened in second place with $11.416M over the 3-day and $14.103M over the 4-day weekend. That was just enough to edge out Takers, which had a average second week fall with $10.877M for the 3-day and $13.536M for the 4-day ($39.987M cume). This is a respectable debut for Machete, which is based on a faux trailer featured in the 2007 flop “Grindhouse” (which opened with $11.597M en route to a weak $25.038M domestic cume). That fact plus the considerably smaller budget — $20M for “Machete” vs. $67M for “Grindhouse” — allows for a more favorable analysis for Machete.

The only other new wide-releasing film this week was the Drew Barrymore/Justin Long romantic comedy Going the Distance, which disappointed in fifth place with a $6.885M 3-day and a $8.508M 4-day.

Rounding out the top five was The Last Exorcism in fourth place with $7.342M for the 3-day and $8.75M for the 4-day ($32.114M domestic cume).

Source: Box Office Mojo, (2)