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Julia Roberts 'Eat Pray Love' Trails Sylvester Stallone 'The Expendables': Hits or Flops?

Julia Roberts, Eat Pray Love
Julia Roberts, Eat Pray Love

Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables grossed slightly less than estimated at the North American box office this weekend (Aug. 13-15), collecting $34.82 million at 3,270 locations. Its per-theater average was $10,650, according to box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo.

Directed and co-written by Stallone, The Expendables, also stars Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, and David Zayas, in addition to Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At no. 2, the Ryan Murphy-directed Julia Roberts-Javier Bardem romance Eat Pray Love took in $23.1 million at 3,082 venues, averaging $7,497 per-theater.

The no. 3 movie was the Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg action-comedy The Other Guys, which earned $17.4 million – down 51 percent from a week ago.

The Christopher Nolan-Leonardo DiCaprio thriller/sci-fier Inception pulled in $11.28 million at no. 4, while the Edgar Wright-Michael Cera effort Scott Pilgrim vs. the World scored only $10.6 million at no. 5. Most worrisome is the film's alarming 25.1 percent Friday-to-Saturday drop-off rate.

At no. 6, Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud's Despicable Me, grossed $6.97m.

Next in line were Jon Chu's Step Up 3-D with $6.9 million and the Steve Carell-Paul Rudd comedy Dinner for Schmucks with $6.28m.

Rounding out the top twelve were Angelina Jolie's Salt with $6.21 million, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore with $4.19 million, Lee Unkrich's Toy Story 3 with $2.22 million, Zac Efron's Charlie St. Cloud with $2.11m.

Among the top twelve movies, The Expendables had the highest per-theater average, $10,650, followed by Eat Pray Love with $7,497. Only on its third weekend out, Charlie St. Cloud had the lowest, $1,015.

Also among the top twelve (barring the three new entries), Despicable Me posted the lowest drop-off rate compared to last weekend, a low -24.9 percent followed by Toy Story 3 with a nearly as low -28.7 percent. Step Up 3-D had the highest, -56.3 percent, followed by Charlie St. Cloud with -55 percent.

Photo: Eat Pray Love (François Duhamel / Columbia Pictures)

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Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, The Expendables
Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, The Expendables

Sylvester Stallone's violent actioner The Expendables topped the North American box office this weekend (Aug. 13-15), taking in $35.03 million at 3,270 locations for a solid $10,713 per-theater average, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Directed and co-written by Stallone, The Expendables, also stars a whole array of middle-aged and post-middle-aged (elderly?) action stars: Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, and David Zayas, in addition to Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Expendables, which received a B+ audience rating as per CinemaScore, opened at the lower end of expectations following a hefty 11 percent drop on Saturday and another (estimated) 17 percent on Sunday. In other words, if studio estimates are correct, on Sunday The Expendables lost more than a quarter of its Friday business. That isn't exactly great news or a sign of box office longevity. (Perhaps B+'s aren't what they used to be?)

Now, will the independently made $82 million film (plus $40m distributor Lionsgate spent on marketing) make money? Well, according to the Los Angeles Times' Ben Fritz, about $50m have been covered by foreign pre-sales, while Lionsgate spent $20m to acquire it for distribution in the US, Canada, and the UK.

So, Lionsgate has about $60m invested in The Expendables which may collect $80m-$100m domestically, depending on the magnitude of its inevitable tumble next weekend. For the movie to break even (for Lionsgate) at the domestic box office, it would have to pull in about $110m-$120m.

That doesn't seem very likely, but there's still the UK market and then ancillary revenues. Though hardly a major hit, The Expendables is certainly no flop, either.

By the way, even before the last box office cash register stopped ringing, Stallone announced that he's planning a sequel to The Expendables.

Photo: The Expendables (Karen Ballard / Lionsgate)

Julia Roberts, Eat Pray Love, Ryan Murphy
Julia Roberts in Ryan Murphy's Eat Pray Love

At no. 2, the Julia Roberts-Javier Bardem romance Eat Pray Love, which received about as many negative reviews as Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables, brought in $23.7 million at 3,082 venues, for a good but hardly exceptional $7,690 per-theater average according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Much like The Expendables, Eat Pray Love opened at the lower end of expectations, following an estimated 4.1 percent drop on Saturday and another 13.5 percent drop on Sunday. (For comparison's sake: The Expendables tumbled 11 percent on Saturday and 17 percent on Sunday.)

Generally speaking, movies that don't go up on their first Saturday tend to have briefer runs than those that do, as that's a sign the buzz isn't all that strong. (There are exceptions, of course, e.g., Despicable Me.)

The longevity of the Ryan Murphy-directed, $60m production set in Italy, India, and Indonesia will become clearer next weekend, when Eat Pray Love's drop-off rate is announced.

The no. 3 movie this weekend was last weekend's no. 1, the Adam McKay-directed Mark Wahlberg-Will Ferrell action-comedy The Other Guys, which drew $18 million – down 49 percent (not great; not terrible) from a week ago. Total after ten days: $70.54m. Cost: $100m.

There's no chance The Other Guys will be able to recover its production costs at the U.S. and Canada box office (after exhibitors take their 45%-50 percent cut).

Another 50 percent or so drop next weekend, and the Wahlberg-Ferrell flick will be collecting less than $10m.

But there's always the foreign market and ancillary venues.

Photo: Eat Pray Love (François Duhamel / Columbia Pictures)

Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception
Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception

Up one spot from Friday, the Christopher Nolan-Leonardo DiCaprio thriller/sci-fier Inception scored $11.37 million at no. 4 following a 38.6 percent attendance drop from the previous weekend – its steepest to date – according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Inception lost only 298 theaters (it's currently playing at 3,120 locations), but competition from Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables, Julia Roberts' Eat Pray Love, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World clearly sapped away some of its box office strength.

Even so, Inception's per-theater average was a sturdy $3,644 on its fifth weekend out. For comparison's sake: on weekend no. 5, the Robert Pattinson-Kristen Stewart-Taylor Lautner romantic fantasy The Twilight Saga: Eclipse averaged $1,720 at 2,334 sites.

To date, Inception has grossed $248.55m. It'll pass the $250m mark either on Monday or Tuesday. Cost: $160m.

Also in the Inception cast: Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Tom Berenger, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Hardy.

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