- The Expendables box office: Critical dud? Definitely. Sleeper hit? Not exactly. Even so, the widely derided Sylvester Stallone actioner has performed more strongly than expected around the world.
The Expendables box office: Sylvester Stallone actioner is no. 1 on the domestic chart – and reviewers be damned
Aug. 13–15 weekend box office: Featuring cowriter/director Sylvester Stallone alongside an array of middle-aged/post-middle-aged (elderly?) action stars and former stars (Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Jet Li, etc.), the critically panned blow-’em-up actioner The Expendables topped the domestic box office chart with $34.8 million from 3,270 locations according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
That’s an undeniably solid opening-weekend figure. But will the independently made $82 million production – and let’s not forget the $40 million distributor Lionsgate reportedly spent on its marketing – be profitable?
Well, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Ben Fritz, about $50 million have already been covered by foreign pre-sales, while Lionsgate spent a relatively modest $20 million to acquire Stallone’s explosion fest for distribution in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
If these figures are accurate, Lionsgate has about $60 million invested in The Expendables, which, depending on the magnitude of its inevitable tumble next weekend, may collect $80–$100 million domestically.
Sequel already planned
Generally speaking, for The Expendables to break even for Lionsgate at the domestic box office (we’re leaving the U.K. aside for this calculation) it would need to pull in $110–$120 million.
Of course, that also depends on the type of contract Lionsgate has with the producing companies – Nu Image, Millennium Films, Rogue Marble – which may be entitled to a share of the box office take. Either way, Sylvester Stallone has already announced that he’s planning a sequel.
So, for better or for worse, expect The Expendables 2 in the not-too-distant future.
Also blowing things up or getting blown up in The Expendables: Steve Austin, Randy Couture, David Zayas, Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler, 2008), Giselle Itié, Terry Crews, and, as a corrupt former CIA officer and the movie’s big villain, veteran Eric Roberts (whose actioner beat his sister Julia Roberts’ romantic drama Eat Pray Love, which opened this past weekend with $23.1 million).
Unexpectedly strong global take
Update: Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables ultimately collected a somewhat better than expected $103.1 million domestically and a far better than expected $171.4 million internationally. Worldwide total: $274.5 million.
That’s not only a respectable figure but – depending on contractual stipulations – also a profitable one.
Its top international territories were the United Kingdom/Ireland (good for Lionsgate, with $16 million), Russia/CIS ($14 million), France ($13.5 million), Japan ($10.8 million), Australia ($8.4 million), Germany ($8.2 million), Spain ($6.1 million), and Mexico ($5.3 million).
In Brazil, where The Expendables was partly shot (which led to a bit of a furor following Sylvester Stallone’s derisive jokes about public safety in that country), the actioner underperformed, grossing only $4.7 million.
“The Expendables Box Office: Sylvester Stallone’s Quasi-Sleeper Hit” notes
Unless otherwise noted, “The Expendables Box Office: Sylvester Stallone’s Quasi-Sleeper Hit” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about The Expendables and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Jason Statham and Sylvester Stallone The Expendables movie image: Lionsgate.
“The Expendables Box Office: Sylvester Stallone’s Quasi-Sleeper Hit” last updated in September 2023.