- 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 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.