The Expendables Pummels Weekend Box Office Results

It was the ultimate battle of the sexes at the North American box office this weekend as Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables fought off the new Julia Roberts drama Eat Pry Love to land in the top spot by a comfortable margin. Universal’s quirky Scott Pilgrim vs. the World landed softly in fifth, while last week’s champ The Other Guys hung tough in third. Overall, the box office was up a bit from the past two years, roughly 10%.

You may have heard the term “has-been” used quite a bit recently in association to the ensemble cast for The Expendables. To a certain extent, the term was properly used. After all, it has been quite some time since the likes of Dolph Lundgren or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin were listed above the title of a movie. Even with the respectable business brought in by 2006’s Rocky Balboa and 2008’s Rambo, Sly Stallone’s career has certainly seen better days.

Or has it? Judging by the bloody good $35 million estimated opening for The Expendables, it appears that while Hollywood may have written these guys off (to a degree), their fans have not. Opening on a wide 3,270 screen count, the $80 million Lionsgate production gave its targeted male audience exactly what they were looking for: male bonding, explosions and a ridiculously high body count. Even if the film’s grosses dropped slightly on Saturday (down seven percent) from its $13.5 million opening on Friday (the film is estimated to lose roughly 20-25% today), the R-rated testosterone flick hit its intended target demo and took down another high profile debut in the process.

That other debut would be the much-anticipated big screen adaptation of the runaway bestseller, Eat Pray Love, which stars another Hollywood star that hasn’t been around much of late, Julia Roberts. While the guys checked out The Expendables, the gals helped push Ryan Murphy’s (Glee) adaptation of the Elizabeth Gilbert novel to a decent but not great (given the book’s popularity) $23.7 million opening on 3,082 screens. The film scored a somewhat rancid Rotten Tomatoes score of 38% (The Expendables received a 43% approval rating), and those exiting the movie on opening day only gave the movie a “B” for a Cinemascore Rating. Also raising a bit of concern for distributor Sony is that Friday-to-Saturday grosses showed no increase, which may indicate word-of-mouth was mixed at best.

Last week’s winner, the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg action comedy The Other Guys, held up well in its second weekend out. Off 49% from its $35.5 million debut, the duo arrested an estimated $18 million on 3,651 screens to bring its ten-day total to the $70 million mark. The comedy should have no trouble passing the $100 million mark by the time it winds down, making it the fourth successful collaboration between star Ferrell and director Adam McKay in a row.

Closing in on the quarter-billion mark and finishing in fourth place this weekend was the Warner smash hit Inception. It fell 39% in its fifth go-around to an estimated $11.3 million and a new to-date domestic total of approximately $249 million. Watch for Leo and his dream team to finish north of the $290 million range. Overseas, the Christopher Nolan-directed sci-fi mind trip has amassed close to $300 million in ticket sales.

The graphic novel series is much beloved, and the movie itself received the best reviews of all the wide releases this weekend (80% approval on Rotten Tomatoes). Yet Universal’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World couldn’t expand past its fan base to achieve mainstream success. The $60 million comedy landed on 2,818 screens and could only muster $10.5 million in ticket sales to land in fifth place. Similar to this past spring’s Kick-Ass, Pilgrim was heavily marketed and screened for quite some time beforehand, the latter which may have helped curtail ticket sales. And much like the Lionsgate underachiever, all the marketing was merely a case of preaching to the choir. For now, it looks as though The World may have won this round, so Scott will just have to put up a bigger fight this winter on DVD and Blu-ray.

In sixth place was a movie that Universal has had nothing but success with this summer, the animated hit Despicable Me. It held tough yet again as it brought in an estimated $6.8 million (off only 27%) in ticket sales to bring its domestic total to an excellent $222.2 million. The film should zip by Shrek Forever After in the next few weeks to become the second biggest animated film of 2010 behind Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3. Speaking of that animated behemoth, which landed outside the top ten for the first time this weekend, Buzz and Woody crossed the sacred $400 million domestic mark while climbing closer to the one billion mark in overall global sales.

In seventh place was Disney’s 3D dance dud Step Up 3D which fell by 59% to an estimated $6.6 million in its second weekend to bring its ten day total to the $29.5 million mark. Watch for the third and (pray) final installment in this series to finish around $43 million, a sizeable step down from its two predecessors. Still kicking ass in eighth place for the weekend was Sony’s hit Salt adding $6.3 million to its domestic coffers which now stand at approximately $104 million.

Stabilizing in ninth place in its third weekend out was Paramount/Dreamworks’ comedy Dinner For Schmucks. Off a moderate 39%, the Steve Carell/Paul Rudd laffer earned $6.3 million for the weekend to bring its total to the $58.8 million range. The film should finish its run near the $70 million mark. Rounding out the top ten was Warner’s 3D kiddie sequel Cats and Dogs: the Revenge of Kitty Galore which added $4.1 million to its slim domestic total of $35 million.

Next weekend sees another spoof film from the guys who gave us Disaster Movie, Date Movie and “Epic Movie, the Twilight goof Vampire’s Suck. The film opens on Wednesday (you know, to benefit from the guaranteed glorious word of mouth it will generate). On Friday, a quartet of late-summer movies debut: The Switch, Nanny McPhee Returns, Lottery Ticket and Piranha 3D. Predict what these films will make for a chance at prizes in our Weekend Box Office Prophet Game.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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