Weekend Box Office: The Bourne Legacy Scores $40 Million Opening, Knocks Dark Knight Rises From #1

No my name isn’t Jason Bourne, and I’m more than “that guy in The Hurt Locker.”

The fourth time is still a charm for the Bourne series. The Bourne Legacy follows its predecessors in the franchise opening to solid numbers. Not really a spin-off to the trilogy that made audiences believe Matt Damon as an action star, Legacy continues the mythology established with the special black ops programs utilized by the Central Intelligence Agency. With $40 million its opening weekend, that figure is substantially smaller than the opening numbers for both The Bourne Supremacy ($52 million) and The Bourne Ultimatum ($69 million). However, it is the start of a new franchise without star Matt Damon. So the studio is no doubt pleased with the opening with Jeremy Renner as the hero.

Universal Pictures probably kept its expectations in check, knowing that audiences may not gravitate to Legacy with Renner as the star. But writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity) utilizes the brand in name only (okay, there are a few references to Jason Bourne) while attempting to build on the franchise with a new face in the fold. Matt Damon may have made it publicly known that he would never do another Bourne adventure if Paul Greengrass wasn’t the director, but I’m sure if you approached him with a certain dollar amount he would gladly bite and be Bourne again. Besides, he would get a chance to work with Jeremy Renner who, like Damon, has been nominated twice for acting Oscars (both in lead and supporting roles), the last of which came from working on The Town, directed by Damon’s best bud Ben Affleck.

With the success of The Bourne Legacy, the public may be starting to buy into Jeremy Renner as an action hero. He had a hell of a lead-in, with supporting roles in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and some movie called The Avengers. I think more than a few saw that second one. Perhaps now with Legacy Renner won’t just be “that guy from The Hurt Locker.” Come on, people – everyone should know he was in National Lampoon’s Senior’s Trip.

The next few weeks should be interesting to see how well Legacy holds up in terms of repeat business. Aside from The Expendables 2, the action genre doesn’t have much to offer viewers until the start of September when Mila Jovovich does her Resident Evil thing (How many of these has she done? It’s twenty, right?). Critics and audiences are seeing 50/50 in terms of approval/disapproval, but a B CinemaScore must mean that the exit polls are better than Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score.

Placing second this weekend wasn’t The Dark Knight Rises, which had reigned supreme the last three weeks. Instead, the Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis political comedy The Campaign opened to $27.4 million. Considering that Ferrell comedies make near to nothing overseas, Warner Bros. better hope that Mitt Romney’s selection of Republican congressman Paul Ryan will give the movie a boost in the coming weeks. Still, the opening is still solid considering the subject matter and for the fact that Ferrell is channeling his George W. Bush from SNL only this time with a John Edwards hairpiece. Nicolas Cage I bet is upset that he didn’t get to sport it instead. The guy loves him a good hairpiece.

The Dark Knight Rises may have slipped to third this weekend, but its drop down the list won’t be as swift as say Total Recall which dropped from second place to sixth behind Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days of all things. No, the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy should have the legs to play through much of September while still maintaining its top 10 performance. As it stands now, it is close to $50 million behind The Dark Knight when comparing their theatrical runs four weeks in. Also, it should cross $400 million by this time next week on its way to surpassing The Hunger Games to be the year’s second-highest grossing film in the United states. Worldwide, it is closing in on $800 million making it Christopher Nolan’s third consecutive film to pass that mark. It has also passed the final Harry Potter release to place 15th on the all-time box office list.

As counter-programming last Wednesday’s release of Hope Springs looked to attract the same audience-type that also saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel earlier this summer. Considering its subject matter – a small film about retirees struggling with their marriage – Springs could be playing in arthouse theaters around the U.S. Actually, it is in some locations, but Columbia Pictures has a strong pedigree attached with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones (translation: non-threatening old people) in a comedy that will play well with the AARP crowd. It also has Steve Carell, who seems to resigning himself to supporting duty after the success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Get Smart was met with Dinner for Schmucks. (Coincidentally, the French film The Dinner Game – the basis for Schmucks – is the background movie for one of the more humorous scenes in Springs.)

While Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days will not approach the numbers of the previous entries in the series, 20th Century Fox has to be happy that the third installment wasn’t the financial calamity that Total Recall was in its second week. The remake starring Colin Farrell dropped 68% in terms of attendance, and netted $8.1 million over the weekend. After two weeks Recall has earned $44.1 million. It will be lucky if it can make it to $70 million before it leaves theaters. Still, the original grossed $119 million back when gas cost you less than $1 a gallon and Justin Bieber hadn’t even been born yet.

That other franchise 20th Century Fox is still high on (Ice Age) is still performing well in the top 10, having the softest fall in the list. With little competition in the 3D-animated arena, the fourth in the series, continental Drift, will fall short domestic earnings of the previous three films. However, the true power of the franchise is how well it does internationally. While it has made $144 million so far in the states, overseas it has made an astounding $620 million!

And rounding out the top ten (because something has to, right?) we had Step Up: Revolution, and a tie for tenth with The Amazing Spider-Man and The Watch.

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Source: Box Office Mojo

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