By Adam B. Vary
Updated September 04, 2010 at 05:47 PM EDT

Image Credit: Rico TorresEarly estimates put Machete just a slice ahead of The American at the Friday box office — the former took in roughly $3.9 million for first place, while the latter banked about $3.8 million for second place — but it’s still too close to predict which film will win the Labor Day weekend. Both films appear to be on track for anywhere between $15 and $16 million for the four-day holiday, but The American received a deadly “D-” CinemaScore, and the bad word-of-mouth portends a steep drop off for the Europe-set thriller. (Machete, by contrast, got a “B” CinemaScore.)

The news doesn’t get much better for the other film debuting this weekend, the Drew Barrymore-Justin Long rom com Going the Distance: While it did enjoy a decent “B” CinemaScore grade, it grossed an anemic $2.2 million on Friday for fifth place, and will likely struggle just to make it past $9 million for the four-day holiday. Last weekend’s top two films, meanwhile, round out the top five for Friday: Takers took in about $3 million for third place, and a four-day total heading towards $14 million; and The Last Exorcism scared up around $2.3 million for fourth place, and a holiday cume north of $9 million.

Check back here on Monday morning for the complete Labor Day holiday box office report.