Sylvester Stallone beats Julia Roberts: ‘The Expendables’ vs. ‘Eat Pray Love’
Aug. 16 update: 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 Boxofficemojo.com.
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 cameos by 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 $40 million distributor Lionsgate spent on marketing) make money? Well, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Ben Fritz, about $50 million have been covered by foreign pre-sales, while Lionsgate spent $20 million to acquire it for distribution in the US, Canada, and the U.K.
So, Lionsgate has about $60 million invested in The Expendables which may collect $80m-$100 million 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-$120 million.
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.
At no. 2, the Ryan Murphy-directed Julia Roberts-Javier Bardem romance Eat Pray Love, which received about as many negative reviews as Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables, brought in $23.1 million at 3,082 venues, for a good but hardly exceptional $7,497 per-theater, average.
Much like The Expendables, Eat Pray Love opened at the lower end of expectations, following an estimated 4 percent drop on Saturday and another 14 percent drop on Sunday – in other words, with a stronger hold than the Stallone flick.
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. Featuring the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Julie Andrews, and others, Despicable Me has to date grossed $221.99 million. Thus far, it’s Universal’s only real hit of the year. Cost: $69m.)
The longevity of the Ryan Murphy-directed, $60 million production set in Italy, India, and Indonesia will become clearer next weekend, when Eat Pray Love‘s second weekend 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: $70.54 million. Cost: $100 million.
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 $10 million.
But there’s always the foreign market and ancillary venues.
Aug. 15: Despite the mostly enthusiastic reviews and all the Comic-Con/Twitter buzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World failed to break the cycle of comic graphic novels that don’t cause much of a stir at the domestic box office.
Directed by Edgar Wright, and starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, and Brandon Routh, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was by far the weekend’s best-reviewed movie – 79 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics. Too good for North American audiences, obviously, as, facing stiff competition from Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables, Julia Roberts’ Eat Pray Love, and holdovers The Other Guys and Inception, collected only $10.52 million at no. 5 according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
How could Scott Pilgrim, one of the most anticipated movies of the year, flop?
Well, there are several possibilities: a) the film has no major stars b) it’s not part of a franchise c) it’s based on humorous graphic novels and those never do well d) geeks and nerds who were supposed to flock to it opted to stay home and just tweet about it d) Universal is cursed. (Despicable Me is the exception that proves the rule: Charlie St. Cloud, Green Zone, Leap Year, The Wolfman, etc. etc.)
The term “Scott Pilgrim” has been (off and on) the top trending Twitter topic for quite some time (an “epic of epic epicness”). But playing at 2,818 theaters, Scott Pilgrim‘s average was a highly disappointing $3,735.
Also, Scott Pilgrim may have been a victim of Universal’s marketing campaign – the trailer, for instance, made the movie look unwatchably infantile – and of the fact that it was competing against two strong newcomers and two strong holdovers (The Other Guys and Inception). Something as funky as Scott Pilgrim probably needed a weekend all of its own.
Universal, the studio that in the faraway past brought you superblockbusters such as Jaws and E.T. need to rethink their marketing strategies.
Just wondering: How many flops can a studio release each given year and manage to stay afloat?
In the future, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World will probably turn into a cult classic – while fare such as The Expendables and Eat Pray Love will be relegated to obscurity. But for the time being, Scott Pilgrim is just one more costly Universal loser – $85 million budget, though presumably pared down to $60 million after rebates.
Final note: At Boxofficeguru.com, we’re reminded that this is the first weekend since Oct. 2009 on which none of the top five films is in 3D.
Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Whoopi Goldberg, Timothy Dalton, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, and others, Lee Unkrich’s animated 3D feature Toy Story 3 has become the first 2010 release to pass the $400 million mark at the North American box office. Its total currently stands at $400.76 million after 59 days out.
Toy Story 3 is not, however, the no. 1 animated hit ever in the U.S. and Canada: DreamWorks’ Shrek 2 grossed $441.2 million back in 2004.
The Disney/Pixar release is currently the 11th biggest domestic moneymaker ever on Box Office Mojo’s chart (not adjusted for inflation / 3D/IMAX surcharges). By the time it runs completely out of gas, it’ll have passed both Spider-Man and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, landing in 9th place.
Worldwide (once again, not adjusted for inflation / 3D/IMAX surcharges), Toy Story 3 is in 9th place with $940.1 million (57.4 percent of receipts came from overseas), sandwiched between Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
On that chart, Toy Story 3 is indeed the biggest animated release ever. Well, sort of.
That statement is true as long as you choose to buy into the hype while ignoring minor details such as inflation and 30%-45 percent 3D/IMAX surcharges. Though, of course, one could claim that Toy Story 3 sold more tickets in its initial run than any other animated movie in history.
And one would most likely be wrong.
If Box Office Mojo figures are accurate, Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs grossed $66.59 million in North America alone during its initial run in the late ’30s. Multiply that by 20 to arrive at 2010 ticket prices (and I’m being conservative here; see this), and you get $1.33 billion – or nearly $400 million more than what Toy Story 3 has earned worldwide.
In other words, back in 1937, despite the fact that the United States was still suffering the effects of its worst economic crisis ever and that its population was less than half of what it is today, Snow White sold more tickets domestically than Toy Story 3 has done around the world.
True, back in those days they didn’t have videogames, DVDs, VOD, The Shopping Channel, ESPN, Facebook, Twitter, online porn, etc. Most people didn’t have any money, either. Or credit cards. Or multiplexes.
How did they survive? Who the hell knows?
But what seems evident is that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs sold many, many more tickets than Toy Story 3.
Adjusted for inflation (but not for 3D/IMAX surcharges, which would lower its position even more), Toy Story 3 can be found at a much more modest no. 92, ironically, sandwiched between two early 3D efforts: House of Wax, the one starring Vincent Price back in 1953, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, made in 1954, in the days when Grace Kelly and James Stewart were big stars.
Curiously, another recent 3D effort, James Cameron’s Avatar, also found itself smack between House of Wax and Rear Window as per an Alt Film Guide Jan. 2010 piece. (That was an approximation based on 3D/IMAX surcharge calculations.)
Note: I’m fully aware that those “ticket price averages” are to be taken with a large grain of salt. But that’s just as true when it comes to 2010 averages. In other words, it all evens out.
Box Office Mojo’s average for current releases, for instance, is $7.95. I don’t know about you, but the last time I went to a movie theater, I had to shell out 13 bucks – for a 2D presentation.
Proving once again that North American audiences want quality fare – if you make good movies, they’ll come – Sylvester Stallone’s widely panned A-budgeted B flick The Expendables was the no. 1 movie on Friday, grossing an estimated $13.25 million at 3,270 locations for a solid $4,052 per-theater average, according to Box Office Mojo.
Directed and co-written by Stallone, The Expendables, which has a mere 38 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics, also stars Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, and David Zayas, and features Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It’s still unclear whether The Expendables will gross the $35m-$40 million box office pundits and clairvoyants were expecting earlier in the week. The latest box office predictions had The Expendables topping $34 million – or several million less than originally predicted.
At no. 2, the Julia Roberts-Javier Bardem romance Eat Pray Love drew $8.5 million at 3,082 venues, for a good but hardly great $2,758 per-theater average on its first day out.
Until fairly recently, pundits were claiming that the movie star was dead. Eat Pray Love, for one, much like Angelina Jolie’s Salt and Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups, wasn’t “trending” or “tracking.” Well, Salt and Grown Ups went on to make tons of money domestically, while thanks to Julia Roberts’ presence Eat Pray Love had a decent summer opening for a movie you’d normally see coming out in the fall.
Based on a true story about a woman who finds food, enlightenment and love, Eat Pray Love has been marketed as a “date movie.” Apparently, lots of guys preferred dating one another while watching Stallone and his bunch of aging, muscled mercenaries, but Eat Pray Love may have a longer life at the box office because “date” movies tend to have smaller drop-off rates than action flicks.
Having said that, reviews for the Ryan Murphy-directed romantic flick haven’t been at all enthusiastic: 38 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics. An example: following a solid opening weekend, the poorly received Sex and the City 2, which was also geared to women, sank rather rapidly. In other words, Eat Pray Love‘s fate at the box office is up in the air.
Previous post: Friday the 13th at the North American box office. Lucky or unlucky? Well, neither, really.
With three major, eagerly awaited new releases, business had nowhere to go but up. But “up” may not necessarily mean through the roof and toward the stars.
Sylvester Stallone’s all-brawn-no-brain actioner The Expendables was, as expected, the no. 1 movie on Friday according to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com. However, unless those early estimates are off – $13.5 million (up from $13m*) on Friday; $34 million for the weekend – The Expendables will fall several million below the $35m-$40 million some had been expecting.
Starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem, Eat Pray Love was the no. 2 movie on Friday, with $9 (down from $9.8m) and an estimated $26.5 million (down from $28.3m) for the weekend. Unlike The Expendables, Eat Pray Love will likely have a longer life at the box office and lower drop-off rates in the coming weeks. Action movies tend lose 50%-60 percent of their take on their second weekend, and The Expendables hasn’t exactly received stellar reviews.
Now, the big Friday disappointment was Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which was supposed to have lured all the geeks and nerds in the western section of the Northern Hemisphere.
Whether the geeks opted to stay home playing videogames while the nerds went looking for thrills and/or inspiration at theaters showing either The Expendables or Eat Pray Love I don’t know, but Scott Pilgrim scored an estimated $4.7 million (down from $5.2 million) on Friday for a possible $11 million (down from $13.3m) weekend total.
If so, Scott Pilgrim will have a debut about as (un)successful as Zac Efron’s Charlie St. Cloud.
Note: Those are early, rough estimates that will likely have to be modified on Saturday, when official studio estimates are released.
Aug. 12: Three major releases open today in North America (and other parts of the world): the Julia Roberts-Javier Bardem Eat Pray Love (sometimes curiously misspelled as “Eat Prey Love”), the Sylvester Stallone ubermacho actioner The Expendables, and the Edgar Wright-Michael Cera effort Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Domestic box office: Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg ‘The Other Guys’ has solid debut
Aug. 8 update: Adam McKay’s action-comedy The Other Guys, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, took the top spot at the North American box office this Aug. 6-8, ’10, weekend, grossing a solid $35.6 million at 3,651 theaters ($9,751 per venue). Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Inception had to settle for second place after three weekends at no. 1.
For comparison’s sake: nearly two months ago Adam Sandler’s widely derided comedy Grown Ups debuted with $40.6 million. Its total domestic gross currently stands at $155 million.
Aug. 9 update: The Other Guys collected $36.54 million according to box office actuals released by the studios.
Will Ferrell second-highest domestic debut?
The Other Guys officially marks Will Ferrell’s second-biggest debut ever, trailing only the unadjusted opening weekend gross of the Ferrell-McKay effort Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Back in Aug. 2006, that comedy took in $47 million.
Adjusted for inflation, however, The Other Guys is also trailing the opening weekends of Blades of Glory (2007), Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), and Elf (2003).
On the positive side, The Other Guys proved to be quite an improvement over the last pairing of the duo Will Ferrell-Adam McKay: the fantasy adventure Land of the Lost opened to the tune of a mere $18.8 million in June last year.
Mark Wahlberg best domestic box office debuts
Mark Wahlberg’s two best domestic box office openings were those for Planet of the Apes (2001), $68.5 million, and The Perfect Storm (2000), $41.2 million.
In the last nine years, the closest Wahlberg has had to The Other Guys was M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, which took in $30.5 million in June 2008. Poor reviews/word of mouth, however, sank that one rather rapidly. Its total take was a disappointing $64 million.
‘Inception’ no longer holds box office crown
After three weekends on top, the Christopher Nolan-Leonardo DiCaprio thriller/sci-fier Inception was down one spot with $18.6 million, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
Following its regular attendance decrease pattern, Inception lost only 32 percent of its business when compared to the previous weekend. The film’s per theater average (at 3,418 sites) remained quite high: $5,442.
For comparison’s sake: starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, Lisa Cholodenko’s well-received family comedy-drama The Kids Are All Right is currently playing at 994 venues after going wider only three weeks ago. This weekend it averaged an estimated $2,622 per site – or less than half Inception‘s average. (All things being equal, movies playing at fewer locations will have higher per-theater averages.)
Inception domestic cume to date: $227.7 million.
Besides Leonardo DiCaprio, the Inception cast includes:
‘Step Up 3D’ displays weak legs at no. 3
Trailing The Other Guys and Inception at no. 3 was new entry Step Up 3D.
The Disney / Summit Entertainment co-production directed by Jon M. Chu, and featuring Rick Malambri and Sharni Vinson, grossed an estimated $15.5 million at 2,435 sites for a no-more-than-acceptable $6,366 per theater.
Aug. 9 update: Step Up 3D brought in $15.8 million according to box office actuals released by the studios.
Directed by Anne Fletcher, and starring Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, the original Step Up (2006) pulled in $20.6 million on its first weekend. Jon M. Chu’s sequel, Step Up 2: The Streets (2008), brought in a slightly more modest $18.9 million.
Although Step Up 3D debuted on Friday with a good $6.6 million, it lost 23 percent of its business on Saturday. That’s never a good sign. (The Other Guys was also off on Saturday, but only by 4.5 percent.) In other words, Step Up 3D should be stepping off the domestic box office chart’s Top Twelve rather rapidly.
Even considering its relatively low $30 million production budget (not including advertising/distribution expenses), Step Up 3D will be able to recover its cost only after playing overseas, where the second entry performed particularly well, taking in more than $90 million.
Also worth noting, The Kids Are All Right grossed $2.6 million. Total: $14 million. The fact that The Kids Are All Right lost nearly one-quarter of its business despite adding about 20 percent more theaters means that the family comedy-drama is losing steam and won’t be able to sustain further expansions. As mentioned earlier in this post, the film’s per-theater average was a soft $2,622 – about half that of Inception, currently playing at 3,418 locations. In the cast: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson.
North American box office: ‘Inception’ trailing new entries ‘The Other Guys,’ ‘Step Up 3D’
Aug. 7: As expected, Christopher Nolan’s sturdy-legged blockbuster Inception was not the no. 1 movie at the North American box office on Friday, Aug. 6. Adam McKay’s action-comedy The Other Guys, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, took the top spot with a solid $13.2 million at 3,651 theaters ($3,615 per venue).
That means The Other Guys’ weekend take should hover around $37-$40 million, thus marking a commercial turnaround for both Will Ferrell (following the disastrous Land of the Lost) and Mark Wahlberg (following a series of underperformers such as The Lovely Bones, Max Payne, We Own the Night, and Shooter).
‘Step Up 3D’ vs. ‘Step Up’
According to Box Office Mojo, the somewhat surprising no. 2 movie on Friday was new entry Step Up 3D, a Disney / Summit Entertainment co-production that collected $6.6 million from 2,435 sites – averaging a good, though hardly phenomenal $2,710 per venue.
The original Step Up (2006) took in $20.5 million on its first weekend. Despite higher ticket prices and 3D surcharges, this latest Step Up should gross – only – about the same.
After having lost about 140 theaters, Inception was down two spots at no. 3 with $5.53 million. But don’t be too surprised if Nolan’s thriller/sci-fier starring Leonardo DiCaprio ends up in second place – ahead of Step Up 3D – when weekend estimates are released tomorrow. Inception, in fact, had the second highest Thursday-to-Friday surge among the top twelve movies – an impressive up 53 percent.
Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell The Other Guys image: Macall Polay / Columbia Pictures.
Sharni Vinson and Rick Malambri Step Up 3D image: K.C. Bailey / Disney Enterprises.
Sylvester Stallone The Expendables image: Karen Ballard / Lionsgate.
Julia Roberts Eat Pray Love image: François Duhamel / Columbia Pictures.