Weekend Box Office – THE EXPENDABLES Take Number One with $35 Million

     August 15, 2010

The Expendables movie image sllice

If conventional wisdom says that Sylvester Stallone and Julia Roberts are has-beens, than someone clearly forgot to tell their audiences. Both stars are looking like winners today – especially Sylvester Stallone and his oldies action-hero reunion tour, otherwise known as The Expendables.

Title Weekend Total
1 The Expendables $35,035,000 $35
2 Eat Pray Love $23,700,000 $23.7
3 The Other Guys $18,000,000 $70.5
4 Inception $11,370,000 $248.5
5 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World $10,525,000 $10.5
6 Despicable Me $6,760,000 $221.5
7 Step Up 3D $6,620,000 $21.5
8 Salt $6,350,000 $103.5
9 Dinner for Schmucks $6,316,000 $58.8
10 Cats & Dogs 2 $4,075,000 $35.1

The Expendables movie posterIt sounded promising from the jump: Sylvester Stallone and many of the biggest action stars of the past 25 years stuffed into one R-rated, explosives-laden movie. And with each new name that signed on to The Expendables (Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, etc.) it looked more and more certain that Stallone would pull off a hit – despite the fact that he hasn’t been associated with a certified winner since the early 1990s (although his no-budget Rocky Balboa did turn a nice profit in 2006). Sly is having a good morning, is my point.

The Expendables took in an estimated $35 million from its 3,270 locations for a per screen average of $10,710. That is just $3 million less than Tarantino saw last August with the debut of Inglourious Basterds. And for an action movie with a remarkable 13 named stars featured on its advertising, it was also a relatively inexpensive movie to make at a reported $80 million. The reviews have been mixed, but I’m guessing that pleasing critics was never the goal in getting The Expendables to the screen. With the remaining weeks of summer devoid of likely competition, Stallone and company could easily command a final domestic gross north of $100 million.

Unlike Sylvester Stallone Julia Roberts has had a hit film in the last decade – a couple if you want to count ensemble pics like Ocean’s Eleven and Valentine’s Day. Still, the days when she was the biggest female draw in movies are long gone. And yet, check out her gross this weekend for Eat Pray Love. The adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir took in an estimated $23.7 million from 3,082 theatres for a comfortable second place finish on this very competitive, testosterone-heavy weekend.

Just as The Expendables hoped to follow in the footsteps of Inglourious Basterds, Sony wanted Eat Pray Love to follow the course of their own hit Julie & Julia. That adaptation opened to $20 million in mid August of 2009. Eat Pray Love cost a bit more to make than Julie & Julia, and it hasn’t received nearly as much critical support, so the chances of it becoming a blockbuster are slim. Still, I’m sure Julia Roberts would happily accept ‘sleeper’ hit status on this one. That’s about the best a “has-been” can hope for, after all.

The third new release of the week had what the others lacked: great reviews. In fact, at 80% positive on Rotten Tomatoes, Universal’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one of the best reviewed movies of the summer which, as you know, rarely ever translates into cash at the box office.

Scott Pilgrim earned an estimated $10.5 million from its 2,818 theatres. On the plus side, the studio wasn’t expecting a windfall so it would be hard to state that the release was an ill considered bomb. In fact, Pilgrim is already by far director Edgar Wright’s most successful release in the US, where Hot Fuzz topped out at $23.6 million total. As most people agree that the film is both innovative and fun to watch, Scott Pilgrim is destined for a long life as one of those cult classics. I know. It hurts me just to write that down.

In brief holdover news: The Other Guys fell off by about 50% to land at number three on its second weekend. After scoring good midweek numbers the comedy is now on track to become the second biggest hit of Will Ferrell’s career after Talladega Nights. Salt broke the $100 million mark this weekend and Despicable Me continues to enjoy remarkable holds after more than 5 weeks in theatres.

Next week looks to be pretty anemic in terms of big box office news: Vampires Suck launches on Wednesday followed by Piranha 3D and the Jennifer Aniston comedy The Switch on Friday. Hey, isn’t Aniston kind of a has-been? I’d say that’s the one to watch then.

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