Summer ended with a whimper as Focus Features’ assassin drama The American starring George Clooney opened top on an estimated $16.4m over the four-day Labor Day holiday weekend, rising to $19.5m since Wednesday’s [Sept 1] release.

The typically weak weekend drew the smallest combined top ten gross in almost a year. Summer 2010 is expected to finish ahead of last year’s record season according to tracking company Box Office, which predicted seasonal revenues would climb 2.4% over last year to $4.35bn.

Rising ticket prices and the premium on 3D screenings account for the percentage climb, whereas Box Office estimates summer ticket sales to be around 552m, representing a 2.6% attendance decline from last summer.

Screen Gems’ heist thriller Takers fell two places to second on $13.5m for $39.9m after two weekends, while Machete Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis’ revenge saga starring Danny Trejo, debuted in second over four days on $14m.

The New Line rom-com Going The Distance starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long opened in fifth on $8.6m through Warner Bros. The Last Exorcism in fourth added $8.8m for $33.6m in its second weekend through Lionsgate.

The Expendables is closing in on $100m through Lionsgate while Inception in ninth stands at $278.4m after eight weeks through Warner Bros.

Next weekend’s wide release is Screen Gems’ Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D with Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter.

Estimated Top 10 North America September 3-6, 2010

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

1 (-) The American (Focus Features) FFI $16.4m $19.5m

2 (-) Machete (Fox) Hyde Park International $14m –

3 (1) Takers (Screen Gems) SPRI $13.5m $39.9m

4 (2) The Last Exorcism (Lionsgate) StudioCanal $8.8m $33.6m

5 (-) Going The Distance (Warner Bros) WBPI $8.6m –

6 (3) The Expendables (Lionsgate) Nu Image $8.5m $94.1m

7 (5) The Other Guys (Sony) SPRI $6.7m $108.1m

8 (4) Eat Pray Love (Sony) SPRI $6.3m $70.4m

9 (7) Inception (Warner Bros) WBPI $5.9m $278.4m

10 (8) Nanny McPhee Returns (Universal) UPI $4.7m $23.5m