The top two spots on the box office chart remained unchanged for a second weekend, as audiences favored Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy over a handful of new releases. But in something of a surprise, the strongest of those new films turned out to be Let’s Be Cops. The R-rated comedy has moved ahead of The Expendables 3 since Friday, which might say more about the weakness of the latter rather than the strength of the former.
|1.||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles||$28,400,000||$117.6|
|2.||Guardians of the Galaxy||$24,735,000||$222.2|
|3.||Let’s Be Cops||$17,700,000||$26.1|
|4.||The Expendables 3||$16,200,000||$16.2|
|6.||Into the Storm||$7,720,000||$31.3|
|7.||The Hundred-Foot Journey||$7,109,000||$23.6|
|9.||Step Up All In||$2,700,000||$11.8|
Full story after the jump.
No one was expecting The Expendables 3 to open in first place this weekend – the term “franchise fatigue” seems to have been written specifically to apply to this four year-old series. Then again, a second place debut as high as $23 million didn’t seem out of the question. In August 2012, The Expendables 2 opened with $28.5 million, which was down about 18% from 2010 when The Expendables became a surprise late-summer success story. But instead of another 20% drop this time around, The Expendables 3 was off by almost 44% from its immediate predecessor. That’s fairly disastrous, especially considering the steps that were taken to keep the franchise alive.
When The Expendables first hit theatres I’m not sure anyone but Sylvester Stallone imagined it as a bona fide franchise. The premise of bringing past and current action stars together in one film felt like a fun one-off, especially as the cast grew to include big names like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. But that film’s global success ($274 million worldwide; $80 million budget) guaranteed a sequel, and when The Expendables 2 came along in 2012 the formula still seemed to be working.
That formula included two main ingredients: a steady infusion of new cast members and an R-rating. The Expendables 3 definitely kept the cast part intact, including 17 stars on its posters, few of which appeared in the first two films. But this time around the producers went for a PG-13 rating over the ‘R’ for the first time, ostensibly to bring in younger audiences. The fact that the R-rated Let’s Be Cops outperformed the sequel, indicates that that probably wasn’t the best move. The saving grace for The Expendables 3 (as with many other titles this summer) may come from international audiences. The Expendables 2 earned over 72% of its global gross overseas. Considering that a $50 million domestic total now looks iffy, international audiences will have to do most of the work to make E3 profitable.
Although it opened in line with its modest projections, Let’s Be Cops is already looking like a box office winner. Far from being overshadowed by The Expendables 3 (Fox went with a Wednesday launch to avoid the franchise’s opening) the low budget action comedy beat out its higher-profile competition to take third place. That’s especially impressive considering that Let’s Be Cops burned off some of its demand with a mid-week opening and because, in sharp contrast to The Expendables’ overstuffed roster, the film has no major stars. Unfortunately, the other thing that Let’s Be Cop doesn’t have is good word of mouth. It received a B CinemaScore from audiences (E3 got an A-) and has a current Rotten Tomatoes rank of 11% – lower even than Transformers 4.
The weekend’s final new release was The Giver, the adaptation of the bestselling fantasy novel by Lois Lowry. The book was first published over 20 years ago, but has just made it to the big screen thanks to young adult success stories like The Hunger Games and the Twilight Saga. Unfortunately, The Giver looks a lot closer to recent young adult misses like The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Beautiful Creatures. From 3,003 locations, The Giver earned an estimated $12.6 million. Compare that Boyhood, which broke into the box office top ten for the first time after five weeks of limited release. The critically acclaimed drama earned an estimated $2.15 million from just 771 locations and brought its domestic total close to $14 million.
Even with new releases that failed to deliver, this weekend’s overall box office came out ahead of the same frame last year, which saw The Butler open in first place with $24.6 million. Next weekend will deliver another handful of new titles, with Warner Bros.’ If I Stay holding the best chance to unseat Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The drama is expected to earn close to $20 million, with Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For not far behind with a projection of just over $15 million. I wouldn’t expect great holds from any of this weekend’s newbies but, then again, I also didn’t expect TMNT to rule the box office for two weeks in a row so what do I know.