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Bullet to the Head: Sylvester Stallone Biggest Disaster in Three Decades

Sylvester Stallone Bullet to the Head Box Office
Bullet to the Head with Sylvester Stallone: Rocky and Rambo actor stars in his biggest box office bomb in thirty years.

Bullet to the Head box office: Sylvester Stallone has worst domestic debut in three decades

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Feb. 4 update: The Sylvester Stallone action movie Bullet to the Head suffered the worst box office debut of a Sylvester Stallone star vehicle in wide release since the early 1980s, grossing a disastrous $4.54 million at 2,404 North American locations as per weekend box office figures found at The Walter Hill-directed cop thriller had a meager $1,892 average per venue, which means a short life at U.S. and Canada theaters.

Bullet to the Head, whose budget is rumored to have been a not inconsiderable $55 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses), can already be listed as one of the biggest box office misfires of 2013 – along with Sylvester Stallone’s fellow The Expendables 2 and The Tomb co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand, which opened a couple of weeks ago. (See also: “Arnold Schwarzenegger The Last Stand: Actor’s Worst Debut in Three Decades.”)

Zombie romantic comedy Warm Bodies has decent opening

Warm Bodies, zombie romantic comedy featuring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer, had a surprisingly good opening at the North American box office: $19.8 million at 3,009 locations, averaging $6,592 per theater. Down 52 percent, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, was the no. 2 movie. With only $34.7 million after 10 days, Hansel and Gretel has been a disappointment in the domestic market – though, as expected, the 3D action / fantasy flick is faring better internationally.

Multiple Oscar nominee Silver Linings Playbook was the no. 3 movie, with $7.7 million – down only 18 percent. Initially considered a box office disappointment, Silver Linings Playbook has been incredibly resilient chiefly due to its awards-season buzz and Academy Award nods. Oscar nominee David O. Russell directed; Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver star. Cume to date: $80 million, which means that the $100 million milestone is within the film’s reach – something unthinkable a few weeks ago.

Jessica Chastain has two movies among Top Five

Jessica Chastain is the star of movies no. 4 and no. 5: the horror thriller Mama added $6.6 million while Kathryn Bigelow’s controversial political thriller Zero Dark Thirty added $5.2 million (down 46 percent). The two movies’ respective cumes are $58.1 million and $77.7 million. It’s unclear at this stage if Zero Dark Thirty will reach the $100 million milestone at the domestic box office. At one point, it looked like a strong possibility; but somewhat less so now as, unlike Silver Linings Playbook, it’s fading relatively fast.

Sylvester Stallone Bullet to the Head movie image: Warner Bros.

Feb. 2

Sylvester Stallone Bullet to the Head
Sylvester Stallone Bullet to the Head box office: Worst Stallone opening weekend in more than three decades?

The Sylvester Stallone action movie Bullet to the Head is about to become the worst-performing Stallone star vehicle opening in wide release in North America since – at least – the box office bomb Victory back in 1981, or possibly going all the way back to Paradise Alley in 1978. Opening-weekend figures for Victory, which cumed at $10.85 million (approximately $30.5 million today), are unavailable at Box Office Mojo, but Bullet in the Head is expected to gross an abysmal $5 million by Sunday evening, after collecting $1.73 million at 2,404 locations. (Image: Sylvester Stallone Bullet to the Head.)

Once inflation is factored in, in the last three decades no other Sylvester Stallone movie in wide release has opened as disastrously as Bullet to the Head; not even the John Landis’ crime comedy Oscar (1991), the Stallone-written action drama Over the Top (1987), the Stallone-Dolly Parton comedy Rhinestone (1984), or the actioner Nighthawks (1981).

According to figures found at Box Office Mojo, Oscar opened with $5.09 million at 1,388 theaters; adjusted for inflation, that represents approximately $9.5 million in 2013 dollars. Over the Top debuted with $5.14 million (about $10 million today) at 1,758 locations, while Rhinestone opened with $5.45 million (about $12.5 million today) at 1,630 theaters. Co-starring Blade Runner‘s Rutger Hauer, Nighthawks debuted with $2.85 million (about $7 million today) at 659 venues.

Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham: Ensemble hits, solo flops

About two and a half years ago, Sylvester Stallone had his first major domestic hit in years, with the bombastic, all-star action ensemble The Expendables, which collected $103 million at North American theaters. The sequel The Expendables 2, co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and featuring much of the same cast of the first film, performed more modestly in the U.S. and Canada (cume: $85.02 million), but fared remarkably well abroad ($215.4m).

In today’s teen-oriented market, that’s not bad at all for movies featuring a bunch of senior citizens handling big, thick, deadly weapons. But neither Sylvester Stallone nor Arnold Schwarzenegger – or Jason Statham, for that matter – have succeeded in extending their success in ensemble pieces to their own personal star vehicles. Earlier this year, The Last Stand suffered the worst opening of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie since he became a star in the early ’80s: $6.3 million. Jason Statham’s Parker opened a week ago with a nearly as disastrous $7 million.

If Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet to the Head does indeed earn around $5 million in its first three days, it’ll be an even worse debut than those of Schwarzenegger’s and Statham’s movies. It’ll also mean that the upcoming Stallone / Schwarzenegger action movie The Tomb may have to face an uphill battle in finding an audience.

Bullet to the Head cast

Sylvester Stallone plays a tough hitman in the New Orleans-set Bullet to the Head, which also features Jason Momoa, Jon Seda, Sung Kang, Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Christian Slater, who himself hasn’t been very lucky at the box office in recent years – Slater’s Playback was the lowest-grossing release in North America in 2012. [Note: This article originally described Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet to the Head role as that of a cop. Sung Kang plays a Washington, D.C., cop in the film.]

Veteran Walter Hill, among whose directorial credits are the Eddie Murphy / Nick Nolte blockbuster 48 Hrs. (1982) and its sequel, handled the proceedings and is credited for co-writing the Bullet to the Head screenplay with Alessandro Camon. The source for the film’s plot is Alexis Nolent’s French graphic novel Du Plomb dans la Tête. Warner Bros. is handling the film’s domestic release. The Bullet to the Head rumored budget – no official figures are available – is $55 million.

Sylvester Stallone Bullet to the Head movie image: Warner Bros.

Warm Bodies zombie movie Nicholas Hoult
Warm Bodies: Zombie movie to top North American box office on Super Bowl weekend

The supernatural romantic comedy Warm Bodies, in which a zombie (About a Boy‘s Nicholas Hoult) rescues and falls in love with a non-zombie (I Am Number Four‘s Teresa Palmer), topped the North American box office on Friday, grossing a relatively strong (estimated) $8.1 million – including $525k from Thursday late-evening and midnight screenings – at 3,009 locations, according to figures found at Box Office Mojo. Distributed by Summit Entertainment (now part of Lionsgate Pictures), and based on Isaac Marion’s novel for young adults, Warm Bodies will easily top the North American box office this Super Bowl weekend, collecting approximately $20 million.

That’s not bad for a movie featuring no stars, with an unusual theme, and budgeted at a reported $30 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses). Having said that, if the 2009 Ruben Fleischer-directed Zombieland is any indication, Warm Bodies would better do quite well at the North American box office, as overseas prospects are pretty dim. After all, Zombieland collected $75.59 million in the U.S. and Canada, but a paltry $26.8 million elsewhere. Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray, relatively big names in the United States but basically meaningless elsewhere, are two of Zombieland‘s featured players, alongside the then lesser-known Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone, in addition to Little Miss Sunshine‘s Abigail Breslin.

Summit Entertainment: Unlucky in box office cards, lucky in undead love

Summit Entertainment has been unlucky with most of its releases – that’s probably one key reason they’re now part of Lionsgate. On the other hand, Summit did struck gold with fantasy romance based on novels geared to young adults: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books, centered on the romance between a centenarian vampire and a teenage girl have scored more than $3.34 billion worldwide.

Needless to say, Warm Bodies won’t get even close to the enormous (and surprising) success of the first Twilight movie, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, and starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. However, by Sunday evening the Nicholas Hoult-Teresa Palmer pairing will surely have boasted a solid start at the domestic box office, especially taking into account the Super Bowl TV magnet.

Warm Bodies cast

Warm Bodies was directed by Jonathan Levine, best known for the Joseph Gordon-Levitt-Seth Rogen cancer comedy 50/50. Besides Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer, Warm Bodies also features Analeigh Tipton, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco (that’s James Franco’s brother), Daniel Rindress-Kay, Cory Hardrict, Vincent Leclerc, and two-time Academy Award nominee John Malkovich (Places in the Heart, In the Line of Fire).

Zombie R Nicholas Hoult Warm Bodies movie image: Summit Entertainment.

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