'Machete' beats 'American' by a sliver Friday

'Takers' drops to No. 3 following last week's No. 1 opening

Fox's crime actioner "Machete" grabbed early Labor Day weekend bragging rights, carving out an estimated $3.9 million in domestic boxoffice on Friday, its first day of release.

But Focus Features' George Clooney starrer "The American" was close behind at the start of the holiday-stretched weekend – the summer box office season's final session -- collecting $3.8 million on Friday. The atmospheric, assassin-themed thriller totes $7 million in cumulative box office since bowing Wednesday ahead of the long holiday weekend.

The strong start gives "American" a good shot at nabbing the box office gold for the weekend. A more overtly genre pic such as "Machete" would be expected to have a stronger Friday, while a Clooney pic is likely to vie well for Saturday date-night business in any event.

The weekend's third R-rated wide opener -- Warner Bros.' romantic comedy "Going the Distance," starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long -- rang up $2.3 million in fifth place.

Last weekend's No. 1 film -- Sony Screen Gems' crime thriller "Takers" -- took in $3 million in third place on Friday for $29.5 million in cumulative box office through its first eight days in release. And Liongate's horror pic "The Last Exorcism" began its sophomore session with $2.3 million in Friday coin to grab fourth place on the frame and push pic cume to $27 million.