Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Vampires Suck and Piranha 3D Try to Silence The Expendables


I’ve had it with these mother@#%ing piranhas!!

The saying “Everything old is new again” definitely applies when talking about The Expendables. In the ’80s, the action film was box office gold. And by action I don’t mean movies where actors would take a break from the action to pour out their feelings when they need to get something off their chests. I’m talking about a generation where the aura that heroes gave off was enough to kill off a rent-a-villain without the use of bullets or cutlery. At a time where America is being lambasted all over the world, Americans decided enough was enough. Instead of voicing their opinions at tea parties or to their local Congressman, however, they let their wallets speak for them. When The Expendables opened last week as #1 it signaled that people needed some adrenaline heavy action to cheer about. Sylvester Stallone’s film was a macho bloodbath that wasn’t just a homage to the ’80s action movie, but a wake-up call to let others know that the action hero is still relevant.

That was for an opening weekend, but the real test would be if it could unload that machismo for a second straight weekend to finish atop the box office list. At one point estimates had the latest Friedberg/Seltzer crapfest, Vampires Suck, as the top film for the weekend. Luckily those estimates were wrong and Sly and his Expendables was able to repeat as the top film at the box office. Now at $65 million, it could have the legs to hit $100 million domestic. Worldwide the film will no doubt explode. Stallone’s name and the rest of the cast are huge overseas. In fact, most of the film’s funding was through the selling of rights overseas in pre-production.

As for that Friedberg/Seltzer crapfest, Vampires Suck‘s second-place finish just proves that Mike Judge is a prophet in outlining the evolution of the imbecile. Two years ago the duo had their lowest money earner in Disaster Movie, which made $34 million worldwide. Their other “(Insert Generic Title here) Movie” movies had brought in on average $84 million worldwide. Like Meet the Spartans the duo was smart to drop Movie from the title and just go with a title that matches the sentiment felt by many who are tired of the Twilight series and vampires in general. The spoof managed to bring in $19 million in its first five days of release, well above Disaster Movie‘s $14 million domestic haul overall. Had it been released on Friday instead of Wednesday, the film may have defeated Sly and his boys to take the top spot. I guess its second place finish is karma since it was Meet the Spartans that obliterated Stallone’s Rambo when they were released the same weekend in January 2008.

It looks like all the women who wanted to see Eat Pray Love saw Eat Pray Love last weekend. The film’s viewership dropped 48% from its opening week to the next. Or maybe they just loved the book too much to want to see Julia Roberts as the central character, finding her too old for the role and all that. Most likely it’s that nobody wants to sit in a theater for 140 minutes to see if she can fit into her jeans after loading up on breads, pasta and gelato.

Had Lottery Ticket had the same number of theaters as Vampires Suck‘s 3,200, it could have easily been a second place finisher and maybe could have overtaken The Expendables. But Warner Bros. Pictures dropped the film on 1,973 screens. The number of screens isn’t that surprising since movies with black casts rarely open on 3000 screens. Tyler Perry’s films, as successful as they might be for studio Lionsgate, have only opened on a maximum of 2,255 screens. This spring’s remake of Death at a Funeral featuring a black cast only had a theatrical release on 2,459 screens. I guess Puff Daddy was wrong; it isn’t always about the Benjamins.

In its third week of release Adam McKay’s The Other Guys continues its trudge towards $100 million. As it stands now its earnings over the weekend have made it the third-best performer for Adam McKay, overtaking his debut comedy Anchorman. Sorry, Ron Burgandy fans. While McKay and Will Ferrell continue their streak of successful comedies, brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein have been rather silent. Backing the wrong horse last year with Nine over Inglourious Basterds didn’t help the brothers, but this weekend they released a cheap film that they thought would take a sizable bite out of the competition. Piranha 3D got pretty respectable reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (currently sitting at 81% with 52 reviews counted), but the 3D inflation did not increase numbers by any stretch. Actually, after Despicable Me, the summer was met with a string of 3D flops – the Cats and Dogs sequel and Step Up 3D specifically. For a movie that was destined to be a cult hit on DVD, Piranha 3D advertising was hit or miss. When its trailer is attached to the biggest film of all time and is quickly forgotten by the masses something is horribly wrong. There was only a handful of times where theater-goers actually got the see the trailer in 3D. The last time I saw it in 3D was in front of a print of The Last Airbender for chrissakes. Still, at $10 million it was able to separate itself from Nanny McPhee Returns, which finally got an American release after making close to $65 million worldwide already.

Coming in eighth is a comedy that for the longest time was titled The Baster. Yeah, that wasn’t going to drive up ticket sales, but neither was casting a pair of actors who have had more than their fair share of box office bombs. David Hogan isn’t leading man material and Rachel Green, well, other than her hairdo, doesn’t have a great post Friends resume. Yet apparently a lot of people like her so she still keeps cranking out movies without much of a shelf life. Ben Affleck did that too until he refocused and put the days of Gigli behind him. Now he’s got The Company Menand The Town this year, and he recently replaced Christian Bale in an upcoming Terrence Mallick film. Not even the war of words between Jennifer Aniston and Bill O’Reilly piqued the interest of those who were deciding between The Switch and something like Eat Pray Love this weekend.

After six weeks Inception is the longest-running film currently in theaters that is still in the top ten. With close to $577 million worldwide, its domestic weekend total of $7.7 million should be enough to keep Christopher Nolan’s masterwork in the top ten for the weeks to come; and with a little luck it could make it to the $300 million mark, which is almost unheard of in this day of franchises, sequels and remakes.

Poor Scott Pilgrim. The guy took on the world, and yet nobody cared to see it. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has been embraced by its core audience, but those who aren’t part of the clique couldn’t be dragged into the theater to see it. Word of mouth couldn’t be its death sentence, but exhibitors no doubt saw its opening week totals and decided to cut showtimes and present the action comedy in the smallest auditoriums in their establishments. What’s funny is that even though the comedy had the same drop in viewership as the number one film, The Expendables, it added two theater screens. That didn’t seem to help its per-screen average of $1,785.

Before I get to a recap of the arthouse scene I’d like to take a moment and show you one of the best trailers released during the week that we failed to cover as a news item. People who know me know I have seen way too many movie trailers. Most have come at the expense of sitting in theaters but the Internet has spoiled some of the surprise of seeing it on the big screen. Wes Craven hasn’t made a feature film since 2005’s Red Eye with Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy. Many balked that the film was rated PG-13. That didn’t seem to bother DreamWorks as the film would go on to earn $95 million from a $26 million budget. Five years later Craven is back with My Soul to Take. It’s another PG-13 outing for the man responsible for two horror franchises (A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream) and the premise surrounds the death of a serial killer and seven teenagers who were conceived the same night. Sixteen years after his death the killings start up again with the same MO. Did he survive or could his soul be in one of the seven teenagers?

And now we’re back to the feature presentation. At your local arthouse, The Tillman Story had the largest per-screen average of any film released in theaters. The documentary brought in $52,400 on four screens. Get Low added another 146 screens to grab another $759K. The Aussie thriller Animal Kingdom had strong numbers with $106K from 22 locations. And it looks like audiences haven’t flipped for Flipped. The Rob Reiner film drops 15 locations in its third week of release to finish the weekend with $50K. And Sony Pictures Classics expanded the release of Lebannon by adding 12 locations. It increased its theater audience by 87% and collected $32,400. That’s the box office report this week, ladies and gents.

1. The Expendables – $16.5 million ($65 million)
2. Vampires Suck – $12.2 million ($19 million)
3. Eat Pray Love – $12 million ($47 million)
4. Lottery Ticket – $11.1 million
5. The Other Guys – $10.1 million ($88 million)
6. Piranha 3D – $10 million
7. Nanny McPhee Returns – $8.3 million ($71 million worldwide)
8. The Switch – $8.1 million
9. Inception – $7.7 million ($577 million worldwide)
10. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – $5 million ($21 million)


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