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No. 1 but still a disappointment

The costly 'Exorcist' prequel takes in $18.2 million; its producers had hoped for more.

August 23, 2004|R. Kinsey Lowe | Times Staff Writer

The rewritten, recast and re-shot version of "Exorcist: The Beginning" managed to land in first place over the weekend. But the estimated $18.2 million that the film brought in was less than half the $40-million opening that James Robinson, whose company produced the movie, said he would need to "get out with my money."

Morgan Creek Productions spent in the neighborhood of $100 million on the two versions -- $40 million on the first, turned in last year by director Paul Schrader, and even more than that on Renny Harlin's almost total revamp, according to Morgan Creek President Robinson.

Warner Bros., the distributor of the movie, has less financial exposure and somewhat less on the line.

Despite the disappointing opening, Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. president of distribution, maintained: "We're in a good position."

The studio distributes the movies that Morgan Creek finances. Fellman said Robinson was not available for comment Sunday.

20th Century Fox's more successful "Alien vs. Predator," which like "Exorcist" was not shown to critics in advance of its release, slipped 67% in its second weekend, to fourth place with an estimated $12.5 million and a total of $63.1 million.

"Open Water," a different type of scary movie that had posted strong per-theater averages in limited release, expanded to more than 2,700 theaters from 55. The low-budget film about a couple left behind in shark-infested waters took in an estimated $11.8 million, rising to fifth place from 17th last week.

The increase in theaters put a dent in its average, however -- $4,337 per location, compared with $16,268 the week before. Since its opening Aug. 6, the Lions Gate release has taken in $14.8 million.

Going into the weekend, it was hard to predict the performance of the top four movies, but Paramount's modestly budgeted gross-out youth comedy "Without a Paddle" navigated to second place with an estimated $13.7 million.

Meanwhile, "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," in its second week of release, finished at No. 3, taking in $13.2 million for a total of $61.4 million thus far.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Box Office

Preliminary results based on studio projections.

*--* Movie 3-day gross Total (millions)

*--*

*--* Exorcist: The Beginning $18.2 $18.2

Without a Paddle $13.7 $13.7

The Princess Diaries 2 $13.2 $61.4

Alien vs. Predator $12.5 $63.1

Open Water $11.8 $14.8

Collateral $10.5 $70.1

The Bourne Supremacy $6.6 $150.6

The Manchurian Candidate $4.2 $54.7

The Village $3.7 $107

Garden State $3.2 $6.7 Source: Nielsen EDI Inc. Los Angeles Times

*--*

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