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The Expendables: Sylvester Stallone Actioner Surprisingly Sturdy

The Expendables Sylvester Stallone Jason StathamThe Expendables with Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham: Weekend box office leader.
  • The Expendables: Sylvester Stallone’s blow-’em-up actioner performed stronger than expected at the domestic box office.
  • Starring Julia Roberts, Ryan Murphy’s romantic drama Eat Pray Love had a relatively modest debut, but went on to perform strongly overseas.
  • Edgar Wright’s comic-book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. the World turned out to be a sizable flop everywhere.

The Expendables: Sylvester Stallone actioner is no. 1 on the domestic box office 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 studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

That’s a 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.

Also blowing things up or getting blown up in The Expendables: Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Mickey Rourke, David Zayas, and Eric Roberts (brother of Eat Pray Love star Julie Roberts; see below), in addition to cameos by Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Expendables’ unexpectedly strong global take

Update: Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables ultimately collected a somewhat better than expected $103.1 million domestically and a strong $171.4 million internationally, for a respectable worldwide total of $274.5 million.

Its top international territories were the United Kingdom ($16 million), Russia/CIS ($14 million), France ($13.5 million), and Japan ($10.8 million).

In Brazil, where it was partly shot (which led to a bit of a furor following Sylvester Stallone’s derisive jokes about public safety in that country), The Expendables flopped, grossing only $4.7 million.

Eat Pray Love Julia RobertsEat Pray Love with Julia Roberts traveling the world in search of her inner self.

Eat Pray Love box office: Julia Roberts’ panned romantic drama is no. 2

At no. 2 this past weekend, Ryan Murphy’s “inspirational” romantic drama Eat Pray Love – which received about as many negative reviews as The Expendables – brought in a disappointing $23.1 million from 3,082 venues.

In the long term, it doesn’t hurt that this $60 million Sony Pictures release stars box-office-friendly Oscar winner Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich, 2000), cast as a U.S. journalist who, like career women everywhere, has the means to leave it all behind to go look for her inner self by pigging out in Italy, chanting om in India, and finding some Brazilian romance in Indonesia.

Also in the Eat Pray Love cast: Spaniard Javier Bardem (as the Brazilian); Americans James Franco, Viola Davis, Richard Jenkins, and Billy Crudup (dishearteningly, none of them as Italians, Indians, or Indonesians); Britisher Sophie Thompson; and Italian Luca Argentero offering some genuine local color.

Update: Eat Pray Love ultimately collected a passable $80.6 million domestically and a solid $124 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $204.6 million.

Its top international territories were Germany ($14.3 million), Australia ($11.5 million), and Brazil ($10.4 million).

Edgar Wright’s well-regarded comic-book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is no. 5

Among this past weekend’s newcomers in wide release, Universal’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was by far the best-reviewed title – it has a 79 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics.”

Yet that meant little to U.S. and Canadian audiences, as this Edgar Wright-directed comic-book-based comedy brought in a mere $10.6 million from 2,818 locations, landing at no. 5 on the domestic box office chart.

But how could Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, one of the most anticipated movies of the year, turn out to be such a flop?

Well, there are several possibilities:

  • It has no major stars.
  • It’s not part of a franchise.
  • Nerds who were supposed to flock to it opted to stay home and tweet about it instead.
  • Universal is cursed. (Despicable Me is the exception that proves the rule so far this year; see Charlie St. Cloud, Green Zone, Leap Year, The Wolfman, etc.)

Just wondering: How many bombs is a Hollywood studio allowed to drop each year?

$85 million (or $60 million?) dud

Whatever the answer, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World cost a reported $85 million, presumably pared down to $60 million after rebates. As always, that doesn’t include marketing and distribution expenses.

In the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, and Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, 2009).

Update: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World ultimately collected a meager $31.5 million domestically and an even more dismal $16.1 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $47.7 million. Rebates or no, a total box office disaster.


The Expendables: Sylvester Stallone” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “The Expendables: Sylvester Stallone Actioner Surprisingly Sturdy” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should usually be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources.

Comments about The Expendables, Eat Pray Love, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and other titles being profitable or 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, international 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 can be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is 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.

Julia Roberts Eat Pray Love movie image: François Duhamel | Columbia Pictures.

The Expendables: Sylvester Stallone Actioner Surprisingly Sturdy” last updated in June 2022.

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11 comments

James Breen -

That Americans have chosen to turn out for the most violent film of the weekend is no surprise. Everyone wants to show up at the theater just so they don’t feel left out of the zeitgeist. Personally, I don’t find anything positive can come from an actor who has chosen to regress back to 80’s crap action material that, in the end, no one but the drinkers of the Stallone action Kool aid can really appreciate on anything but an ironic level.

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greg -

I saw this comment on another site “Eric Roberts beats Julia Roberts.” First The Dark Knight and now this, the guy has gotten his mojo back.

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Spider -

Let’s not knock Sly’s effort just yet! “The Expendables” has opened 10 million greater than “The A-Team” and is poised to not just topple that flick, but Tom Cruise’s “Knight and Day”, “The Other Guys”, and “Dinner For Schmucks”; high profile flicks that underperformed. Also, “The Expendables” has yet to open overseas, as well. That $110-$120 million figure will be recouped through the overseas market, that’s for sure! For a flick being criticized for lack, or abscence of story, wooden acting, and starring so-called has-beens and never-will be’s(though, it’s just a matter of opinion, or ENVY), the flick delivered what it set out to do and opened to respectable numbers. I applaud Sly’s effort. Bring on “Expendables 2”!

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Me -

It failed because of the small taget audience and the fact that the vast majority of people won’t get it (see above comments). I for one thought it was fucking brilliant, and while it wasn’t a 100% accurate representation, it certainly stayed true to the spirit of the comics.

When a studio wants to make money they put out some crappy CG spunkfest film and hype the crap out of it (cough, Avatar).

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1oftheCynics -

I can’t tell you how many of my “Comic-Geek, Hipster” friends were foaming at the mouths when they saw the trailer for this train-wreck online, to which, their very next responses were “I can’t wait to download this online!”

There is your answer Hollywood. The average über-geek doesn’t bother going to the movies.

This is probably the next hard lesson Marvel Studios will learn when THOR comes out.

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pete -

Reason you knew it would: Michael Cera. He is box office poison. No one likes him. RIP Universal.

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Donna -

Way to go right to criticizing the fans.

I’m honestly surprised if anyone thought this would be a big hit, it’s targeted towards a very specific market and age range. Yes, a lot of the people seeing it are fans of the comics, friends of fans, or just part of the general group it was meant for. That’s not to say that only a certain group will find it funny, but it’s certainly not an all-ages blockbuster.

Personally, I was very entertained and so were most of the people at the showing I went to. I went to be entertained, I saw, and I appreciated the way the comic came to life. It probably was confusing for people who haven’t read the books though, or don’t like video games.

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judyjewel -

As a late twenties woman, Scott Pilgrim didn’t look interesting to me at all. Neither did EPL. I enjoyed The Expendables with my husband and he took me to see Eclipse (guilty pleasure) again.

Also, can someone on this site do a story about On the Road? There have been pictures, casting, and news, but I haven’t seen it here. I would be happy if you did.

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Kent -

What is up with these nerd hipsters desperate to get a film that “validates” their sexless, pointless loser high school years?

The reason this film bombed was because it was STUPID. Only the three or four fanboys who read the comic cared for the quirky nonsense that this film offered. Well that’s clearly not enough to make a film a hit.

This movie was exactly what the handful of SP comic readers wanted and that’s why it bombed. General audiences saw no reason to watch a whiny punk rationalize getting into 7 pointless fights over a girl who is clearly a mega-tramp.
And does the world need another story about teen angst? Who is benefitting from this sub-genre?

Stop obsessing over high school already. SP’s failure is the failure of it’s fanbase. Everything that’s wrong with the story, how the movie was marketed and made is also what’s wrong with them. End of story.

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greg -

Scott Pilgrim will be a cult classic? Pfft. Eat, Pray, Live has been on the NYT bestseller lists for months. The movie isn’t going to fade into obscurity. The Expendables starred all the older actions guys from everyone’s childhood. If any of these movies will be a cult classic, it will be that.

Scott Pilgrim was another fail by a studio to make a movie based on a comic book that no one, but a few hipster nerds reads. See Kickass and The Watchmen for further analysis. I knew from the trailer that this would suck, so I’ll skip it and see it on DVD one day. The studio also failed by putting Cera as the lead and spending a bunch of money on advertising a dud. If the costs were lower, it could go down as some little indie, but they tried to make it bigger. Wright does not get the American audience. This film won’t do great internationally either though.

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Ben -

It’s funny you compare Scott Pilgrim to Charlie St. Cloud. They scored about the same box office but doesn’t it show actually why Zac Efron is much more of a star than people are giving him credit for.

Scott Pilgrim had a large advertising campaign with promotion building for 15 months, it had a large cast behind the star Michael Cera who could promote it, and it had great reviews.

Charlie St. Cloud had terrible advertising that started only 11 weeks before the film came out, Zac Efron was the only one pushing it, and it had terrible reviews.

There were many reasons for people to turn up to Scott Pilgrim. Where as Zac Efron’s the only reason people turned up to Charlie St. Cloud and he did equal business.

It is unfortunate for Scott Pilgrim and for Zac Efron. Both deserved better than Universal.

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