'Takers,' 'Exorcism' to fend off 'Avatar' reissue

"Takers," "The Last Exorcism" and "Avatar"
"Takers," "The Last Exorcism" and "Avatar"
 
Summer's penultimate boxoffice session features an eclectic mix of wide openers big and small.

Sony/Screen Gems' heist thriller "Takers" should fetch well into the teen millions in its debut and thus is a candidate to top the domestic rankings if it can build on core urban support for cast members Chris Brown, Idris Elba and Zoe Saldana. Young girls should carry Lionsgate's horror pic "The Last Exorcism" into a similar range through Sunday.

But there's also a $2 billion-plus gorilla in the room this weekend: a 3D-only special edition of James Cameron's all-time boxoffice champ "Avatar." (Hello again, Ms. Saldana.)

Fox's rerelease of the winter blockbuster -- in about 810 3D locations, including 125 Imax specialty venues -- should fetch at least high-single-digit millions during its first frame. Most of the Imax venues handling the special edition will play the pic for two weeks only.

"Exhibition has embraced this release," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said.

The "Avatar" special edition boasts 8 1/2 minutes of additional footage, and a swell of fanboy interest could mean an even bigger weekend haul for the now 171-minute movie. The theatrical gambit also sets up nicely Fox Home Entertainment's planned November release of "Avatar" special editions on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

To date, "Avatar" has rung up a record $749.8 million domestically and $2.74 billion worldwide.

"Takers" is directed by John Luessenhop ("Lockdown") and co-stars Hayden Christensen, Matt Dillon and Paul Walker. The PG-13 pic unspools Friday with more than 2,200 playdates.

"Exorcism" was produced by Eli Roth, creator of the "Hostel" horror franchise, for less than $2 million, with Lionsgate subsequently acquiring domestic rights. Helmed by Daniel Stamm ("A Necessary Death"), the PG-13 pic features a cast including Ashley Bell ("Stay Cool") and TV character actor Patrick Fabian.

"Exorcism" is set for 2,874 engagements.

Also Friday, Sony Pictures Classics expands the dramedy "Get Low" to a nearly wide 570 engagements. Starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek, "Low" totes a $1.7 million cume after four frames in limited release.

Industrywide, the weekend will be compared with a $125 million frame last year topped by the $27.4 million bow of Warner Bros.' 3D horror pic "The Final Destination."

Year to date, boxoffice is outpacing last year by 4%, at $7.36 billion.
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