Weekend Forecast for August 17-19, 2012

By David Mumpower

August 17, 2012

Stab yourself! Stab yourself! Why won't you stab yourself?

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The latter portion of August is historically a dumping ground for all of the movies Hollywood wanted to release in the summer but did not consider to be potential blockbusters. 2012 is a bit different in this regard because two strong openers debuted last weekend and now four new titles are ready to enter the marketplace. Each is well positioned to target a specific demographic. As many as seven titles could earn north of $10 million this weekend, a feat that has occurred on only one other August weekend in box office history. The upcoming weekend should bring a lot of joy to Hollywood.

The 800-pound gorilla this weekend comes in the form of Sylvester Stallone. And Arnold Schwarzenegger. And Bruce Willis. And Dolph Lundgren. And…okay, the 8,000 pound gorilla this weekend comes in the form of The Expendables 2. The quick follow-up to the 2010 release is going to win this weekend in a walk. The first movie opened to $34.8 million on its way to $103.1 million in final box office. At a minimum, the sequel will do better on opening weekend.

What we learned in 2010 is that the Ocean’s 11 concept of casting a lot of established names in the same project blends perfectly with a bunch of semi-retired action heroes from the 1980s. Stallone and Schwarzenegger alone had carried more movies in that time frame than most actors manage in their entire careers. Stallone was the lead in ten actions films, assuming that Over the Top qualifies in this regard. Even if it doesn’t, I didn’t include the vastly superior Victory, so he made at least one a year during this time frame. Schwarzenegger filmed nine action titles in the same time frame; yes, the 1980s included one shoot-em-up flick each from Stallone and Schwarzenegger on an annual basis.


Bruce Willis spent most of the 1980s getting famous on arguably the best television show from that era, Moonlighting. He did not make his action debut until 1988; that was a little film called Die Hard. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Willis redefined the action genre by going against the grain in portraying a vulnerable hero who is not impervious to bullets yet will willingly walk through broken glass in order to save the day. In the years that followed, Willis became one of the most reliable lead actors in Hollywood. Any film that combined the presence of Stallone, Schwarzenegger and him was bound to appeal to action genre loyalists.

As you know, The Expendables did not stop with them. Stallone’s 1980s foil, Dolph Lundgren, was added to the cast as a tip of the cap to the Rocky/Ivan Drago battle. Mickey Rourke experienced career redemption at example the right moment by starring in The Wrestler and Iron Man 2. His addition to the cast added to the 1980s legacy. Then, producers recognized that many of the people they would be targeting for opening weekend had been born after 1989, so several frontline stars of the 1990s and 2000s were added as well. Jet Li happens to be my favorite of these, although I am a huge fan of Terry Crews and Jason Statham as well. A tribute was also offered to the professional wrestling and cage fighting scene with the additions of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Randy Couture.

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