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The Predator slaughters at the box office with US$24m haul

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THE Predator - the latest instalment in the long-running sci-fi action series - chewed up its rivals to debut atop the North American box office over the weekend, industry data showed on Sunday.

But the Fox reboot, which cost US$88 million to make, will look to earn back some money in international markets, as its estimated US$24 million haul in North America did not meet expectations.

The movie, which comes more than 30 years after the franchise's original film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, courted controversy before its release when the studio cut a scene featuring an actor who was a registered sex offender. Star Olivia Munn had requested the change, saying she was unaware of the actor's past when the scene was filmed. Director Shane Black initially said he hired the actor because he was a friend, but later issued a strongly worded apology.

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Dropping to second place was last week's top draw, horror movie The Nun - the latest frightfest in the popular Conjuring series. It earned an estimated US$18.2 million in its second week, box office tracker Exhibitor Relations said. The Nun stars Taissa Farmiga - whose sister Vera headlined two Conjuring films - in a story about a young nun, an exorcist and a guide stumbling in 1952 onto a dark secret in Transylvania.

Opening in the third spot was A Simple Favor, a tale about a mommy blogger (Anna Kendrick) investigating the disappearance of her friend (Blake Lively). The Lionsgate film raked in US$16.1 million on the back of mostly positive reviews. Matthew McConaughey's new film White Boy Rick opened in fourth place with US$8.8 million. The movie, based on a true story, stars the Oscar winner as the father of a teenage boy who became an informant for the FBI in the 1980s.

Glitzy rom-com Crazy Rich Asians, another Warner Bros product along with The Nun, fell to fifth place. The film, with a nearly all-Asian cast led by Henry Golding and Constance Wu, took in US$8.7 million. Its North American take stands at nearly US$150 million, with another US$28 million earned overseas. Rounding out last weekend's top 10 were: Peppermint (US$6.1 million); The Meg (US$3.8 million); Searching (US$3.2 million); Unbroken: Path to Redemption (US$2.4 million); and Mission Impossible - Fallout (US$2.3 million). AFP