Doldrums Hammer the Late Summer Box Office
By John Hamann
August 26, 2012
This weekend is one of those we get each year, when literally anything can happen at the box office. We had three new openers, none of which finished in the top six this weekend. One film expanded, and sadly, it will be the topic of choice. Despite Joseph Gordon Levitt, Dax Shepherd and Kristen Bell opening films, the box office story of the weekend belongs to Barack Obama's half-brother and the conservative film 2016 Obama's America.
Our number one film of the weekend is The Expendables 2, as Stallone and company do the expected and hold at number one for the second straight weekend. With the loser crop of openers, holding on top was never in doubt for the action sequel, as Lionsgate learned from the first Expendables that repeating on top certainly didn't hurt this franchise when it debuted in August 2010. Following an opening of $34.8 million, the original Expendables dropped 51% in weekend two earning $17 million. This time out, The Expendables 2 opened to $28.6 million last weekend, and the sequel dropped 53% in its second frame to a gross of $13.5 million. None of this is really unexpected, which is why Lionsgate and Millennium Films kept everything similar to how the release went in 2010. They spent a little more money for relatively similar results - $80 million for the original, and $100 million for the sequel.
We can now say with certainty that The Expendables 2 will not earn $100 million stateside. The key number to watch now is the foreign gross. The original earned $171 million overseas (hence the sequel), and the companies behind The Expendables 2 will be looking to expand their reach in foreign territories. Early results are good so far, with the sequel already pulling in more than $25 million. Using a country like Russia, for example, the original opened to $5.7 million there, whereas the sequel opened to $8.1 million. Using one statistic from one country does not make a trend; however, if The Expendables 2 sees similar behavior overseas, expect to see a third Expendables.
Finishing second this weekend is The Bourne Legacy, the now three-weekend-old reboot of the Matt Damon franchise. The Bourne Legacy earned $9.3 million this weekend, giving it another big drop of 46%. The Jeremy Renner version of the once great franchise is still looking to finish at just over $100 million, which is simply not good enough for a franchise like this. None of the previous Bourne films dropped more than 40% in the third weekend, and none of them earned less than $10 million. Like The Expendables 2, The Bourne Legacy is going to be relying on overseas grosses to turn a profit for Universal, who put up $125 million to make this film. That's $15 million more than the third film and $50 million more than the second. So far, The Bourne Legacy has earned a soft $85.5 million.
The top three films from last weekend all hold their position this frame, as ParaNorman finishes in third. From Laika and Focus Features, I was hoping ParaNorman would hold better this weekend, but that's not the case, as the animated feature earned $8.5 million this weekend and drops 39%. With respect to Coraline, the studio's first feature, the comparisons are disastrous, as Coraline dropped only 12% in its second weekend. However, Coraline opened prior to a long weekend, and one where Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday, inflating business across the board. Hopefully, ParaNorman, an 87% fresh gem can re-establish next weekend, as it has a gross so far of $28.3 million, and a budget that is likely around $45 million.