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Posted at 9:50 AM ET, 09/20/2010

Weekend box office: A win for Ben Affleck and his 'Town' and a strong showing for 'Easy A'

By Jen Chaney

Rebecca Hall and Ben Affleck in "The Town." (Warner Bros./AP)

Ben Affleck's career reboot gets an extra boost with a No. 1 debut for "The Town," Emma Stone has something to celebrate thanks to "Easy A's" strong second-place performance, two new releases underperform and a couple of indies get off to a strong ticket-selling start.

Find out the details in this week's box office rundown.

Congratulations to Ben Affleck. Not only has he firmly established his directing cred with his sophomore effort, "The Town," he's also the man behind the No. 1 movie in America. The Boston-set bank-robbery drama made $23.8 million over the weekend, giving Affleck his first box office winner as director, and his first No. 1 debut since last year's "He's Just Not That Into You," in which he played a supporting role.

"Easy A," the teen Scarlet-Letter-riff starring Emma Stone, may have opened in second place, but its numbers were strong. The comedy earned $18.2 million, a nice return on a movie that cost just $8 million to make. It was enough to prompt Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony to gush about Stone to the Associated Press. "She really, really is on her way," he said.

The news wasn't quite as happy for the weekend's other two wide releases. "Devil" -- the trapped-in-an-elevator flick that, as the trailer reminds us, sprang from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan -- earned $12.6 million, a pretty average performance and, according to Box Office Mojo, the dimmest debut ever for a horror movie with the Shyamalan brand. (To be fair, Shyamalan did not direct "Devil"; he is a producer and has a story credit. But, as noted above, the marketing campaign certainly used his name to sell it.) The bid for family filmgoers, "Alpha and Omega," fared even worse, with $9.2 million and a spot in fifth place. That's a particularly low number when one considers that 68 percent of the gross came from sales of more expensive 3D tickets.

A pair of buzzed-about smaller films got off to promising starts. "Catfish" -- the documentary about an unusual Facebook relationship -- made $255,000 after opening on just 12 screens in four cities, for a solid per-screen haul of $21,250. And "Never Let Me Go," the adaptation of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel that stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield, managed a per-screen average of $30,250, with a total of $121,000 on four screens. Both movies open in additional cities, including Washington, this Friday.

And speaking of the upcoming weekend, what do you think our next box office rundown will look like? Can Affleck's "Town" hold at No. 1, or will a new release like Oliver Stone's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" or the kid-friendly (and lengthily-titled) "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" claim victory? Make a prediction by voting in our poll.

By Jen Chaney  | September 20, 2010; 9:50 AM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  | Tags:  Weekend Box Office  
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