The Expendables 2 Flushes Bourne From Top Spot
By John Hamann
August 19, 2012
We must be getting to the end of the silly season. A weekend ago, we had four new films debut on more than 800 screens. This frame we get four more and the mid-August box office flush of blockbusters takes place. Movies joining the crowd this weekend are The Expendables 2, the sequel to the surprise quarter-billion worldwide hit; ParaNorman, from the creators of Coraline; Sparkle, starring Idol winner Jordin Sparks and the late Whitney Houston; and The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a strange film about finding a 10-year-old in a cabbage patch. We haven't seen a weekend this weird since Ted, Magic Mike, and a Madea film were released together, earning a combined $119 million.
Our number one film is The Expendables 2, a film I would normally launch into for its sheer ridiculousness. However, given its fresh status at Rotten Tomatoes and the fact that it's not trying to be something it isn't, The Expendables 2 is just what we need at theaters right now - late summer escapism. Audiences were accepting of the '80s nostalgia this weekend, as The Expendables 2 earned a solid $28.8 million from 3,316 venues. It had a venue average of $8,460. The only comparison for this sequel is to the original Expendables, which Sylvester Stallone both wrote and directed. This time out, he's only writing (my mind's eye comes up with some interesting pictures when I think about Stallone writing, but that's another story).
The original Expendables opened over the same August weekend in 2010, taking in $34.8 million and soundly beating Julia Robert's Eat Pray Love (not to mention the cult film of the decade, Scott Pilgrim vs The World). At the time, the high concept Inception was the flavor of the week, and guys were looking for some old-fashioned action where they didn't have to think. Lionsgate put together a marketing campaign that played up two big cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, making it look like they had bigger roles than they did. Even so, the first film still earned a B+ Cinemascore and took in $13.3 million over opening day. It had a weekend multiplier of 2.61, a score that would indicate the familiarity that audiences had with the cast, making it play more like a sequel over opening weekend, where the biggest day is Friday.
This time out, the Friday for The Expendables 2 came in at $10.5 million, which means the weekend multiplier was 2.73, not that far off of the original. While the opening weekend doesn't match that of The Expendables, it is close enough to know that Stallone and Lionsgate are going to have another successful picture on their hands. The first film cost $80 million to make and netted $274 million worldwide, with over $100 million of that coming from domestic cinemas, where the studio's cut is higher. This one cost $100 million to make, but will likely make up the cost difference by having a healthier overseas session. Given the season, the opening weekend-to-total gross will likely remain near 3.0 (the original was 2.95). Thus, The Expendables 2 will easily earn $75-$80 million stateside and another $250 million overseas. This is going to be a strong franchise in the long term.