Limited choices at B.O.

Two new pics, 'Avatar' re-release highlight weekend

In these dog days of summer, moviegoers have fewer new entries than last week’s crowded frame, with just Lionsgate’s “The Last Exorcism” and Sony/Screen Gem’s “Takers” opening wide today at the domestic box office.

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox expects to attract mostly repeat auds with its re-release of B.O. champ “Avatar,” which enters the market at 811 3D locations, of which 122 are Imax.

“Avatar” also will go out again this weekend in 14 international markets, including Australia, Russia and the U.K., with an additional 50 overseas Imax locations. Fox’s phenom is expected to cross $2 billion this weekend in international B.O. receipts, which would make it the first film to hit that milestone.

The frame’s other new domestic entries will sit out the weekend on the international front, meaning top holdovers like Warner Bros.’ “Inception” and Paramount’s “The Last Airbender” should continue to reap sizeable coin in repeat frames overseas.

Last weekend, “Airbender” totaled an impressive $20.2 million from 40 overseas markets, enough to rival “Inception’s” weekend take of $21.3 million. “Airbender,” which expands to territories like China and Mexico this weekend, has cumed $94.9 million overseas, while “Inception” has reached $357.5 million.

And while some overseas markets have two more weeks of summer vacation, many Stateside students have already headed back to school.

Both “Takers” and “The Last Exorcism” are tracking best with auds aged 25 and under, though “Exorcism” may attract a more even split between men and women.

Previous horror-thriller pics have performed well in this frame. Last year, Warner’s “The Final Destination” and “Halloween II,” from the Weinstein Co., scared up plenty of auds, as the former opened with a chart-topping $27.4 million. “Halloween” debuted in the No. 3 spot with $16.3 million.

Most B.O. observers predict “Exorcism” will launch closer to “Halloween’s” totals, and with “Takers” also expected to perform in the mid-teens, the weekend could be a close call between the two new entries. “Exorcism” launches at 2,874 locations; “Takers,” 2,206.

Helmer John Luessenhop’s heist movie “Takers,” about a tough-nosed detective out to foil a team of bank robbers’ latest job, toplines Matt Dillon, Zoe Saldana, Hayden Christensen and Chris Brown. Rated PG-13, the film is expected to play strongly with males as well as African-Americans.

“Exorcism,” also rated PG-13, joins a slew of demon-possessed pics, with last year’s January release “The Unborn,” from Universal, debuting at $19.8 million. Lionsgate’s latest tells the story of a minister (Patrick Fabian), who allows the last exorcism he performs to be filmed by a crew of documentary filmmakers.

Lionsgate acquired the film from producing partners Studio Canal, Strike and Eli Roth, whose feature debut “Cabin Fever” opened at $8.6 million for Lionsgate in 2003. “Exorcism” was budgeted at approximately $2 million.

While Fox stands to boost the already bulging bottom line for “Avatar” — the film has earned a record-breaking $749.8 million domestically — the studio attributed the re-release to helmer James Cameron’s desire to incorporate deleted scenes.

Fox is calling the re-release a special edition, with 8½ minutes of additional footage. The film’s marketing has pumped up that fact in various TV spots, meant to entice repeat auds.

Among the frame’s holdover titles, last week’s top debuting pic, Fox’s “Vampires Suck,” could fare best after its $12.2 million domestic bow. Pic launched midweek, hoping to benefit from remaining teenage auds on summer vacation, and has totaled $21.9 million through Thursday.

The Weinstein Co.’s “Piranha 3D” also enters its soph sesh after grossing $10.1 million during opening weekend. Pic has earned solid midweek figures, totaling $13.2 million, but could lose younger auds to fellow scarefest “Exorcism.”

Sony Pictures Classics mounts an aggressive rollout of “Get Low,” expanding the Robert Duvall starrer to 570 locations, up from last weekend’s count of 146.

“Get Low,” which debuted July 30 at four locations, has since cumed $1.7 million.

Also in limited release, Music Box launches French-lingo thriller “Mesrine: Killer Instinct” at 28 Stateside locations. Meanwhile, IFC launches “Change of Plans” and Magnolia launches “Centurion,” both at 12 engagements.

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