'Exorcism' is third-biggest September opening

Sony and Screen Gems came up with a shocker over the weekend as “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” opened to $30.2 million from 2,981 theaters.

That figure was well above industry estimates for the frightener and made “Emily” the third-biggest opening ever in the month of September — behind “Sweet Home Alabama’s” $35.6 million in 2002 and “Rush Hour’s” $33 million in 1998.

While September is known as a slack period at the wickets, Sony has in recent years found success in the month and now owns five of the biggest September openings, all of them released since 2003.

Frame’s other fresh pic, New Line’s “The Man,” failed to get much notice as it posted a $4 million bow at 2,040 locations, which placed it at No. 6.

Staying in second place was Universal’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” which rang up $7.9 million over the frame, down 41%. The Steve Carell laffer thus far has a cume of $82.3 million. Now in its fourth week, pic has been in the top two since it was released.

Behind it in No. 3 was 20th Century Fox’s “Transporter 2,” which dropped 56% to $7.2 million.

Focus Features’ “The Constant Gardener” had a good second weekend with $4.8 million from 1,381 venues, raising cume to $19.1 million.

Perf repped a 44% drop from last weekend’s Friday-to-Sunday span.

Rounding out the top five was DreamWorks’ “Red Eye,” down 40% in its fourth frame to $4.6 million. Cume stands at $51.3 million.

Lower down on the chart, New Line’s “Wedding Crashers” reached the $200 million mark over the weekend. Playing its ninth frame, pic grossed $3.2 million, which ranked eighth for the weekend.

Frame repped a strong improvement over last year, with Nielsen EDI estimating total receipts at $87 million, which is 12.8% higher than the post-Labor Day frame last year.

B.O. still off

For the year, total box office stands at $6.129 billion, which is 7.2% lower than last year’s total at this point.

Sony distrib prexy Rory Bruer said of “Emily,” “We would have been quite happy if it had opened at $15 million, so to do double that is no less than fantastic.”

Made for just less than $20 million, “Emily Rose” was produced by Firm Films.

Demographics on the PG-13 scarer were pretty balanced, according to Sony’s exit surveys. Bruer said aud broke down 57% under age 25, while it came out 50-50 men and women. “It’s one of those pictures that really appeals to everyone,” Bruer said.

$1 mil starts ‘Unfinished’

In the limited arena, Miramax’s “An Unfinished Life” opened on 139 screens and rang up $1 million worth of biz, to average $7,264 per screen.

Also opening this weekend was Odd Lot’s “Green Street Hooligans,” which grossed $60,200 on seven screens in Gotham, L.A. and Chicago. Pic averaged $8,600 per screen.

Among the holdovers, Sony Pictures Classics had two pics cross the $1 million mark this week.

“Junebug” grossed $237,896 over the frame, which brings its cume to $1.4 million. Playing on 105 screens in its sixth week, it averaged $2,266 per engagement.

Also playing its sixth frame, “2046” raked in $132,080, which moved its cume to $1 million. Booked on 61 screens, pic averaged $2,165. Also from Sony Classics, “The Memory of a Killer” found $38,384 from 17 screens. Through its third sesh, pic has cumed $145,915.

Lions Gate’s doc “Grizzly Man” also crossed a milestone. Now in its fifth weekend, “Grizzly” grossed $220,000 off 105 screens, which moved cume just past $2 million. Pic averaged $2,095 per venue.

Focus’ “Broken Flowers,” now in its sixth week, padded cume by $788,702 during the sesh, moving it to $11.5 million. Playing 425 screens, it averaged $1,856.

ThinkFilm’s obscene joke doc “The Aristocrats” moved past $5 million over the weekend. Playing 222 screens in its seventh frame, pic grossed $361,850 to move cume to $5.2 million. Pic averaged $1,630 per screen.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more