Who says the weekend after Labor Day is the dead zone at the box office? Fright fans flocked to The Exorcism of Emily Rose and gave the horror flick a phenomenal $30.2 million opening, according to studio estimates.
For young audience members, the film’s freaky ad campaign was the biggest draw, while for older moviegoers, the presence of two Oscar-nominated lead actors (Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson) likely did the trick. It all resulted in the third-biggest September debut of all time, behind Sweet Home Alabama ($35.6 million) and Rush Hour ($33 million).
Second place went again to The 40 Year-Old Virgin, which slipped 41 percent to $7.9 million, while The Transporter 2 plummeted 57 percent in its second weekend to $7.2 million. And the critically-acclaimed thriller The Constant Gardener saw a bigger-than-expected drop of 44 percent to $4.9 million in its second weekend.
But at least Gardener fared better than the Samuel L. Jackson/Eugene Levy comedy The Man, which opened with a horrendous $4 million in the face of wildly mixed reviews, some of which hailed Jackson and Levy as an instant-classic comedy duo, others which said there wasn’t a laugh to be found for almost 90 minutes. Looks like audiences didn’t care to find out which opinion was more accurate.