Exorcist Possesses Top Spot

Warner Bros.’ Exorcist: The Beginning bedeviled the box office competition over the weekend, knocking 20th Century Fox’s effects-loaded Alien Vs. Predator out of the No. 1 spot. While The Beginning’s estimated take of $18.1 million isn’t exactly head-turning, the chiller prequel is on track to be the quadrilogy’s best performing followup to the 1973 original, which grossed $401 million worldwide, not counting the $112 million the 2000 Director’s cut brought in.

Alien Vs. Predator took a steep 67% tumble in its second weekend, dropping from No. 1 to No. 4 behind Paramount’s guy comedy, Without a Paddle (est. $13.7 million), and Buena Vista’s tween gal-targeted The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (est. $13.1 million). Rounding out the top five with around $11.7 million is Lions Gate’s Open Water, which was made for well under $1 million, leaving no budget for CG effects and requiring its two main actors to swim with real sharks.

While Alien Vs. Predator’s second-week drop-off was precipitous, it wasn’t as bad as that of Warner Bros.’ Yu-GI-Oh! The Movie, which slipped 69% to drop just out of the top ten from the cozy No. 4 spot it held a week ago. Still, at $15 million and counting, the film should turn a tidy profit for the studio, which acquired it from 4 Kids Ent. for just $5 million and had to spend very little on marketing to a built-in audience.