There was a brief moment where August still seemed viable for blockbuster pictures. Generally, the month has been viewed as the weak sister of the hot season, usually a dumping ground for once-promising projects that fell by the wayside, gathering little attention from students preparing to return to school. A string of August hits over the last decade changed that, but here we are, back to the dog days. Last summer was plagued by low attendance for films like "30 Minutes or Less," "Conan the Barbarian" and "Fright Night," and if this weekend is anything to go by, with "The Expendables 2" handily defeating an onslaught of unattractive new product, we're in for even lower grosses. In fact, it's the first weekend in a decade where no new film opened to over $7 million. Ouch.
Box Office: ‘The Expendables 2’ Wins Weak Weekend, Conservative Doc ‘2016: Obama’s America’ Surprises
Box Office: 'The Expendables 2' Wins Weak Weekend, Conservative Doc '2016: Obama's America' Surprises
The musclebound sequel to "The Expendables" is definitely a few ticks below the original film, and it looks like it might not even hit nine figures. Coming out immediately after "Total Recall" and "The Bourne Legacy" didn't help matters as far as being a red-meat action picture. "The Expendables 2" had one hook to distinguish itself from those films, the union of elderly action stars, and audiences had already seen that in the original film. Millennium Films reported the budget to be around $90 million, though an even bigger P&A for the followup likely makes that figure higher, but the reception overseas will determine whether or not an "Expendables 3D" is in our future.
"The Bourne Legacy" is getting closer to $100 million, which would make it the fourth film in this franchise to cross that line. It won't be a smash success, but a solid performer and one that ultimately puts it more or less in the same position as franchise starter "The Bourne Identity," which makes sense given its rolling with a brand new lead. The film is still poised to open in numerous overseas territories in the next month or so we'll see how well 'Legacy' does without Matt Damon leading it. "The Bourne Ultimatum" nearly brought home the same figures both at home and abroad, but if 'Legacy' can get to three-fourths of the domestic take from the foreign box office, Universal will be happy.
Family flicks "ParaNorman" and "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" hung on after mediocre debuts. Neither is expected to break the bank, though it's certainly peculiar how the studios have treated them. "ParaNorman" is a horror-centric kid flick, so an October berth would make more sense than August, though they seem to think that Disney's "Frankenweenie" would defeat the film soundly during that period. Meanwhile, 'Green' has been promoted heavily for the last year, as Disney pushed a serious trailer and TV ad campaign. Considering it's a small film, you wonder how much they needed to gross to grab a profit for all those commercials.
The blockbuster of choice in the late summer remains "The Dark Knight Rises," as it bounced back into the top five after briefly falling out. Internationally, the picture has already surpassed the take of "The Dark Knight" and will likely be an even bigger success than the 2008 smash. Moreover, "The Dark Knight Rises" will enter the all time domestic Top Ten this week, passing "The Lion King" with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" in its sights. By time its box office run ends, it could jump up a couple more spots as well.
The weekend's biggest story is the performance of "2016: Obama's America." The conservative doc went wide to over a thousand theaters in conjunction with the Republican National Convention, adding to the considerable business the film has done in limited release already. Political docs usually don't perform this kind of business, but there's a certain type of filmgoer who would be enticed by the type of film that, from its trailer, features dramatizations of families being torn apart by infighting over a game of Monopoly. These guys operate in metaphor!
It's doubtful this will represent a breakout hit — conservative bases licensed buses and massive field trips to see the film upon its expansion, though the picture had loaded pre-sales numbers and had already peaked in regards to per-screen averages in limited release. But anytime a doc can total over $5 million is a victory, particularly considering Rocky Mountain Pictures is one of the smaller distributors out there. On Friday, it was the biggest film in the country, but by the time the final numbers arrive on Monday, it will likely remain in the bottom five, possibly above or below "The Campaign."
A meek debut was had for "Premium Rush," which tried to sex up a profession that no one seemed to believe could be sexed up. Sony had this one on ice for too long, probably, with an earlier release planned for January '12 already long after it had wrapped, though the hope was Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be embraced as a leading man by now. This does not bode well for "Looper," which will bank on teaming him with Bruce Willis next month.
"Hope Springs" is quietly pacing itself and should hit $50 million by next weekend. Not bad considering it's cheap counterprogramming for an older demographic. Considering the pallid showings of the rest of the films on the marketplace, 'Springs' could conceivably play well into September (or at least until the similarly skewing "Trouble with the Curve" arrives). Debuting at the very bottom of the top ten was "Hit and Run," which Open Road aggressively opened at over 2,800 locations on Wednesday, despite the fact that Dax Shepherd is not bankable, nor is he a convincing action lead. Tragedy, that. And light a candle for "The Apparition," which Warner Bros. opened on 810 theaters for a piddling $3 million despite not being sure if they were releasing "The Apparition," "The Awakening," "The Possession" or "Monkeybone."
1. Grandpa's Blow-'Em-Up Hour (Lionsgate) – $13.5 million ($52.3 mil.)
2. The Bourne Trilogy Part Four (universal) – $9.3 million ($85.5 mil.)
3. ParaNorman (Focus) – $8.5 million ($28.3 mil.)
4. The Odd Life Of Green Boy (Disney) – $7.4 million ($64.5 mil.)
5. The Dark Knight Rides Again (Warner Bros.) – $7.2 million ($422.2 mil.)
6. The Campaign (WB) – $7.1 million ($64 mil.)
7. Google Maps: The Movie (Sony) – $6.3 million
8. Blak Presidence R Scurry (Rocky Mountain Pictures – $6.2 million ($9 mil.)
9. Your Elderly Parents Are Doing It (Sony) – $5.8 million ($45 mil.)
10. Bradley Cooper In Dreadlocks (Open Road) – $4.7 million ($5.9 mil.)