Weekend Wrap-Up for September 3-5, 2010

The American takes on Machete

By John Hamann

September 5, 2010

He's impressed with her...handling abilities.

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Along with George Clooney, reviews likely helped The American at number one, but they may be telling about its legs. At RottenTomatoes, The American garnered 129 reviews, of which 78 were fresh, giving this one a 60% fresh rating at the review compilation website. Reviewers called it wonderfully shot with beautiful locations, but they also called it tortuously slow, which may elicit some bad word-of-mouth amongst everyday movie patrons. Like Michael Clayton or Syriana, though, Clooney may be able to turn this performance into an Oscar nomination, which would then help The American on DVD.

Finishing second this weekend is last weekend's number two, then number one film, Takers. During its opening weekend, the film was Initially estimated at number two, but then actuals came out and it squeaked out a win at the top spot. Takers earned another $11.5 million this weekend, down a harsh 44% (but not as harsh as The Last Exorcism, which we will get to in a bit). This moves another movie into the win column for Screen Gems, a studio that can make crap shiny. Takers cost the studio $32 million to make, and it has now grossed $37.9 million. Look for this one to finish with about $50 million.


Like Clooney, Robert Rodriguez also brings a certain pedigree to his films, but not to quite the same degree. This weekend, Rodriguez introduced Machete, a child of the Grindhouse trailers (pretty bad when the intermission was the best thing about the whole Grindhouse production). Machete worked for the most part, earning $11.3 million from 2,670 venues. It had an average of $4,232. The opening is remarkably similar to that of Grindhouse. The B-movie spectacle opened to a disappointing $11.6 million in April of 2007. The Grindhouse opening changed the perspective of how Machete should do, and likely changed the overall budget. Rodriguez and partners spent between $25 and $30 million on the production of Machete (Grindhouse was rumoured to cost as much as $100 million), and then sold US rights to Fox for $8 million. It will likely end up as a good deal for Fox, who would have paid for the Machete marketing, likely in the $20 million area. This is the second movie of the summer from Rodriguez, and Machete's star Danny Trejo. Rodriguez also produced Trejo's earlier summer film, Predators, which earned $51.7 million domestically (and more than that overseas) against a budget of only $40 million. Rodriguez, like Clooney, knows how to make films on the cheap. The Spy Kids franchise for example cost a combined $135 million for three films, and earned over $300 million domestically, and $485 million worldwide. Want a money winner? Hire Robert Rodriguez.

Somewhat suprisingly, Machete is the best reviewed new release this weekend. Yes, Machete, with severed heads and an R rating that warns of strong bloody violence, language, and some sexual content and nudity, earned a very fresh rating of 73% from RottenTomatoes. Critics loved what Rodriguez set out to do – make a tastelessly violent Mex-ploitation film – and that he stuck to his guns throughtout. It likely helped that Quentin Tarantino was a co-producer, and it will be interesting to see if these reviews are any indication of legs, as Grindhouse caved in on its second weekend, dropping 63%.

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