It looks like audiences had better things to do than go to the movies this weekend, as only one feature managed to earn over $10 million at the box office. That distinction went to The Expendables 2, which claimed its second weekend on top with a meager $13.5 million. Holdovers made up the remainder of the top five while a mixed bag of new releases struggled over late-summer scraps.
|1.||The Expendables 2||$13,500,000||$52.3|
|2.||The Bourne Legacy||$9,300,000||$85.5|
|5.||The Dark Knight Rises||$7,150,000||$422.1|
|6.||Odd Life of Timothy Green||$7,125,000||$27|
|8.||2016 Obama’s America||$6,238,000||$9|
|10.||Hit and Run||$4,675,000||$5.8|
Last weekend I noted that the new releases slated for this frame were all titles I didn’t recognize. I know it’s the end of summer but, seriously! Why release a movie if you’re not going to let people know about it? To be fair, Sony Pictures did do a bit of marketing for their new PG-13 thriller Premium Rush – the highest grossing of this weekend’s three new titles. So, yes, I was aware that a film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike messenger existed. Trouble is, the film’s promotion emphasized the tagline “Ride Like Hell” over the actual title… and incoherent marketing is just as bad as no marketing at all.
Premium Rush received a decent reception from critics (75% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) but a frosty reception from audiences. From its 2,255 locations the action thriller brought in an estimated $6.3 million: enough for a seventh place finish on this financially anemic frame. Sony has not released its budget for Premium Rush, but $35 million is probably close. Factoring in its shaky debut, Sony will have to look to international audiences to balance its books. They like bike racing in Europe, don’t they?
How much international audiences like Dax Shepard is another question. Hell, if this weekend’s box office is any indication, I’m pretty sure Americans aren’t too jazzed about the one-time up-and-coming comedian. Shepard co-wrote and directed this week’s second new release: Hit and Run. He also headlined the action-comedy alongside his When in Rome co-star, Kristin Bell. Distributed by Open Road Films, Hit and Run opened in 2,870 locations on Wednesday and grossed just $5.8 million over its five-day run.
I mentioned that there were three new releases this weekend but, if you are trying to locate the last one among the top ten, don’t bother. The horror film The Apparition opened in 810 locations on Friday but ended up at number twelve with an estimated $2.95 million. The Apparition hails from Joel Silver’s Dark Castle Entertainment but was distributed by Warner Brothers. With Silver’s very public parting from his long-time studio, small wonder this project failed to garner a big WB marketing push. Well, that and the fact that The Apparition looks God-awful. It wasn’t screened for critics, though, so that’s just a guess.
The one unfamiliar title that did make it into this weekend’s top ten is actually not new at all. 2016 Obama’s America has been around since July in very limited release, with indie distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures waiting until the eve of the Republican Party’s 2012 convention to send the feature documentary into wider release. 2016 expanded on Friday into 1,091 locations and, for a time, held first place on the daily chart thanks to its very healthy pre-sales. The propaganda piece eventually fell to number four on Friday (and even lower by Sunday) but, in the end, 2016 did well enough to make it the highest-grossing conservative documentary of all-time. Overall, Obama’s America still falls well short of more-liberal political documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth as well as almost every film directed by Michael Moore.
Even considering the pitiable grosses of this weekend’s top ten, the overall frame was not far behind 2011 in terms of earnings. The box office just seemed more exciting at this time last year because, instead of being bombarded with a fistful of studio misfits, I got to write about the surprise success of The Help. Unfortunately, no such help will be forthcoming over the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Four more films are set for release between now and next Friday, with Lionsgate’s PG-13 The Possession claiming the widest theatre count. Or The Expendables 2 could hang on for a third weekend, which would give the sequel the two lowest-grossing first-place finishes of 2012.