Weekend Box Office: The Expendables 2 Takes The Weekend But Can’t Outperform First Expendables

One was a POW, the other MIA. Now they are just a pair of AARP badasses.

If the first Expendables was about the nostalgia of seeing the biggest action heroes of ’80s and ’90s cinema in one film together (granted it was only for a short scene), the sequel shows what’s possible when the triple threat of Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis get armed and dangerous for real this time. With the Ah-nuld back in the saddle ready to terminate people, and the additions of Chuck Norris (who is pretty much a “Lone Wolf”) and Jean Claude Van Damme (who plays a villain named Vilain), The Expendables 2 was all about being bigger and louder than its predecessor. Also helping the cause was the pre-release buzz surrounding new projects for Schwarzenegger and Stallone. That would be The Last Stand for Ah-nuld, as the Sheriff of a small town going up a drug cartel. The other is Stallone’s Bullet to the Head from great action director Walter Hill. What old is new again for a new audience, I guess. But the real question is if the success of The Expendables was lightning in a bottle or could producer Avi Lerner strike gold again.

Well, the heavy ensemble actioner finished the weekend with an estimated $28.8 million. That was enough to easily dethrone The Bourne Legacy, which grossed $17 million after last week’s $38 million haul. For The Expendables 2, its opening total was 17% below the first film’s $35 million opening.

Unlike the first film, The Expendables 2 didn’t have to compete the likes of the Julia Roberts starring Eat Pray Love. Though like the first, the sequel challenged a Will Ferrell comedy entering its second weekend at the box office (that would be The Other Guys, now The Campaign). The fanbase was definitely there both times I went to the theater over the weekend. The first time resulted in a power outage so now blood-spurting action or cheesy one-liners. The second time, however, the early afternoon crowd on Sunday was more than enthusiastic. So what can account for a lower first-weekend gross? Maybe purveyors of The Expendables had their fair share and didn’t bother with the sequel. Or it could be that teenage girls were duped at Liam Hemsworth’s involvement, thinking the future Mr. Hannah Montana would have a bigger part. Don’t worry gals, if you are “hungering” for more Hemsworth, Catching Fire is but a year away. Maybe it’s because that some don’t see Van Damme in the same league as Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis.

I wouldn’t consider $28.8 million a horrible opening number for The Expendables. And it wouldn’t surprise me if this one gets better word of mouth. The direction is better and so are the performances. I mean that is the loosest terms, but the script plays off Dolph Lundgren’s academic achievements in the area of chemical engineering and there are a number of wink wink moments involving classic one-liners like “I’ll be back” and “Yippee-Kay-Yay.” With a budget topping $100 million, it will need a bigger overseas number (the first one made $171 million) to ensure that the third one is go. We already know Nicolas Cage is on board – hairpiece or no hairpiece.

Dropping to second was The Bourne Legacy. While its drop in attendance and money earned is in line with the Paul Greengrass directed sequels Supremacy and Ultimatum, those also had bigger openings. On the bright side, Legacy is tracking better than the original Bourne Identity, back when people weren’t too sure about Matt Damon as an action star. International totals may hold the key in determining if the franchise is still a go with Jeremy Renner as the star.

Now for something a little different on the animation front is ParaNorman. Not quite the clean computer animation that most audiences are used to, this stop-motion animated feature debuted to middling numbers. As a comparison, the release outperformed the first week earnings of Aardman’s The Pirates! Band of Misfits which opened during the spring to $11 million against the surprise hit Think Like a Man ($17 million that weekend) and the still averaging eight figures a weekend release The Hunger Games ($10 million). There’s the possibility that ParaNorman could play well into the start of the month of October, though its best intended audience is kids between the ages of 8 to 13. The other new Friday release, Sparkle, may not have had a heavy ad presence, but it still managed $12 million on less than 2250 screens, giving it the second-highest per-screen average in the top ten.

Will Ferrell continues his comedy thing with The Campaign. After two weeks it has made $51 million, but don’t look for this one to make nine figures in the U.S. As a political comedy it could have done much worse, but no one is hurting here. Ferrell has an Anchorman sequel upcoming, as well as his flag football comedy Three Mississippi with Adam Sandler. Zach Galifiankis will suit up for The Hangover Part III. As for Jay Roach, pray to god that he doesn’t do Austin Powers 4 or another Meet the Fockers sequel any time soon.

In its fifth weekend of The Dark Knight Rises finally crossed the $400 million, still registering an eight-figure sum. Worldwide Rises needs about $103 million make it gross $1 billion. Don’t worry, Warner Bros. is still sorting the money on this blockbuster.

So The Odd Life of Timothy Green – I could have sworn this movie came out already. Disney has been advertising this movie forever. I recall seeing a trailer as far back as last summer for its eventual release this summer. That’s how long it’s been. It has a strange premise (kid comes out the ground with leaves on his legs) and the chemistry between parents Jennifer Garner (remember when she was just 13 going on 30?) and Joel Edgerton (from Warrior to pencil inspector – ouch!) was a little too inconsistent for my taste. And I pretty much knew the conclusion, as one of these movies tends to arrive every decade. If you’ve ever seen Powder or Phenomenon you know what’s in store. The family film got a two-day head start on the weekend opening on Wednesday. Thus far it has earned $15 million. This could be a minor success for Disney, pending the studio didn’t spend too much on a summer release that probably shares the catering budget for The Avengers.

The Meryl Streep-Tommy Lee Jones comedy (sorry Steve Carell’s in there too) Hope Springs had the lowest percentage drop of the weekend amongst wide releases. The older crowd is keen on this one, pushing it to $9.1 million in its second weekend. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets the better of Timothy Green once the actuals are released on Monday.

Rounding out the list are the underperforming Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days and Total Recall. To Diary‘s credit, it was a cheapie on behalf of 20th Century Fox, and should clean up on DVD. All the people pointing to John Carter as the scourge of this year’s box office might want to look at Total Recall. Lowballed at $125 million, with the real number somewhere between $150-$200 million, it has only made $51 million so far. And that’s with a named cast that includes Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel. And what did John Carter have? Try an unproven commodity in Taylor Kitsch, whose biggest supporters are those who remember him as Riggins on TV’s Friday Night Lights. At least John Carter had ambition. Recall was reheated leftovers that smelled a little funky.

Three films getting a sizable boost in limited release were 2016 Obama’s America, the anti-romantic comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever (Andy Samberg you have been redeemed after the disastrous That’s My Boy) and Searching for Sugar Man> Newcomer Cosmopolis debuted in three theaters to $72k, while Robot & Frank grossed $38k. The biggest single-screen release was Compliance which took in $16k. I hear that Ann Dowd is quite good in a film that has been divisive since its premiere at Sundance this year. Again, if you are near an arthouse theater, do support the smaller releases.

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Source: Box Office Mojo

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