It doesn't look like it will be an easy victory for Sony at the domestic box office after all.
Warner's Ben Affleck-directed caper film "The Town" beat pre-release expectations Friday, opening to $8.4 million, according to studio estimates.
The R-rated drama, which stars Affleck and Jeremy Renner, and was co-produced by Warner and Legendary Pictures, is expected to gross nearly $25 million this weekend and lead the North American market.
Predicted champ "Easy A," meanwhile, premiered to $6.8 million Friday, putting it off pace to meet some outside-studio pre-release estimates of over $20 million.
However, Sony's Screen Gems unit paid only $8 million to produce the high-school-themed romantic comedy, and had itself predicted an opening somewhere in the mid-teens.
Here's the top 10 at the domestic box office (report continues below):
With four movies opening wide on a weekend that, so far, is virtually flat with 2009's "Cloudy with an Chance of Meatballs"-led frame, Universal horror film "Devil" finished third Friday with $4.9 million.
The first of three films produced by Media Rights Capital under producer M. Night Shyamalan's "The Night Chronicles" moniker, the PG-rated flick about a group of office workers stuck on an elevator with the Prince of Darkness was acquired for global distribution by Universal for $27 million. It's expected to hit around $13 million domestically this weekend.
This weekend's other wide opener, Lionsgate-distributed family 3D film "Alpha and Omega," debuted in fifth place with $2.3 million. The movie, which was produced by India's Crest Entertainment at a reported cost of $25 million — and acquired by Lionsgate for domestic distribution for somewhat less than that — is on a pace to gross only about $8.5 million this weekend, despite 3D up charges.
Among limited releases, Rogue Pictures' Sundance acquisition "Catfish," distributed by Universal, grossed an estimated $87,000 Friday playing at 12 locations in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin, Texas.
Fox Searchlight's "Never Let Me Go," meanwhile, tallied a projected $33,000 playing at four theaters.
Among holdovers, last week's box office champ, "Resident Evil: Afterlife," dropped a big 72 percent, finishing in fourth place with $3 million.