Screen Gems’ heist thriller Takers edged out Lionsgate’s The Last Exorcism over the weekend as $20.5m secured the crown by the tightest of margins according to confirmed results issued on Monday [30]

Takers stars Idris Elba, Matt Dillon and Hayden Christensen. John Luessenhop directed the story of a gang of robbers whose ultimate heist plan is interrupted by a tough detective.

Daniel Stamm directed The Last Exorcism, a faux documentary about a priest who lets a camera crew follow him as he investigates a case of demonic possession. Patrick Fabian and Nell Sweetzer star. It opened in second on $20.4m.

Lionsgate’s The Expendables slipped two places to number three in its third weekend on $9.5m for a robust $82m.

Sony’s Julia Roberts vehicle Eat Pray Love in fourth added $6.8m for $60.5m, a decent result for the returning star that has yielded a solid gross to date. Encouragingly for Roberts bearing in mind that $75m is within reach, one could argue that not even Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock or Reese Witherspoon would necessarily have done better in the role.

Warner Bros’ Inception climbed two places to number seven in its seventh weekend to stand at a magnificent $270.5m. Piranha 3D from TWC / Dimension Films ranks tenth in its second weekend on $18.3m and the theatrical uplift should set up a strong DVD performance.

Fox re-released Avatar with nine minutes of extra footage in the form of Avatar: Special Edition and the sci-fi opera arrived in 11th place on $4m from 812 theatres. The film’s original incarnation finished earlier this year on $749.8m so James Cameron’s epic has amassed $753.8m, while a further $4.3m overseas this weekend boosted the international running total to a suitably stratospheric $2.002bn.

Music Box reported that Mesrine: Killer Instinct launched on $152,873 from 28 venues.

Next weekend is Labor Day and Fox releases Robert Rodriguez’ exploitation film Machete starring Danny Trejo and a host of famous Hollywood faces; Warner Bros has the rom-com Going The Distance with Drew Barrymore and Justin Long; and Focus Features unleashes thriller The American from Anton Corbijn starring George Clooney.

Estimated Top 10 North America August 27-29 2010

Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Takers (Screen Gems) SPRI $20.m –

2 (-) The Last Exorcism (Lionsgate) StudioCanal $20.4m –

3 (1) The Expendables (Lionsgate) Nu Image $9.5m $82m

4 (3) Eat Pray Love (Sony) SPRI $76.8m $60.3m

5 (5) The Other Guys (Sony) SPRI $6.3m $99m

6 (2) Vampires Suck (Fox) Fox Int’l $5.2m $27.8m

7 (9) Inception (Warner Bros) WBPI $4.9m $270.5m

8 (8) Nanny McPhee Returns (Universal) UPI $4.7m $16.9m

9 (7) The Switch (Miramax) Lionsgate $4.6m $16.4m

10 (6) Piranha 3D (TWC/Dimension) TWC International $4.3m $18.3m