Turtles, Guardians Prove Openers Expendable
By John Hamann
August 17, 2014
Third goes to Let’s Be Cops, the small comedy from Fox that is the real winner amongst the new films this weekend. Let’s Be Cops opened on Wednesday to a healthy $5.2 million, setting the pace for what would be a productive first five days of release. On Thursday, it dipped 39% to $3.2 million, but then bounced back up on Friday to $5.6 million on Friday, more than what it earned on its debut Wednesday. Over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the weekend, Cops earned $17.7 million, but once the Wednesday and Thursday is added in, that number comes up to $26.1 million. The result means that Let’s Be Cops out-grossed its $17 million production budget after only four days of release, and will be quickly profitable for Fox and its production companies. The movie stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. as the pretend cops – Johnson is the one to watch, as he appears in Jurassic World next summer.
Finishing a sad fourth is The Expendables 3, the franchise we thought was only sagging until the third film opened and flopped. The Expendables 3 got started on Friday with only $5.9 million, a far cry from the $10 million plus opening days enjoyed by the two previous entries in the franchise. All of a sudden, this has gone from a sagging franchise to an implosion, as the smiles around the aging action star releases have turned into frowns in the form of angry reviews and lack of fan attention. This one took in only $16.2 million over the weekend proper, well off the opening weekends of the original ($34.8 million) and the sequel ($28.6 million). Did the pirated online version of Expendables 3 hurt its domestic box office? We will never really know, but this result will give the online piracy police another stick to wield.
The Expendables films have never been monstrous domestic hits. Instead, these action films are made for international audiences, those that still look back on Rambo as a glorious action hero. The first Expendables earned $171.4 million at the overseas box office, compared to the $103 million the original made in North America. The second Expendables was even bigger internationally, but did less stateside. It earned $220 million overseas, compared to the declining domestic take of $85 million.
Even with a somewhat disastrous North American debut for The Expendables 3 and a domestic total that will likely only reach $50 million, this $90 million feature will still find a profit for the shareholders at Lionsgate. If we assume a $225 million overseas haul and consider the A- Cinemascore (which is the best for an opening film this weekend), Stallone and friends may make out okay theatrically, and then find a real profit on home video. If that happens, I wouldn’t be gobsmacked if Expendables 4 made an appearance. Stallone needs the work, and the first two Expendables also made over $70 million from Blu-ray and DVD sales alone.
Fifth goes to The Giver, a film that feels like the 1,000th shot at success via a novel for young adults. Add this to the pile of titles that didn’t quite make it. The Giver, a film that has been in the works for almost 20 years, earned a small but respectable $12.8 million – respectable in the fact that it didn’t match the complete failure of YA adaptations like Mortal Instruments: City of Bones ($9.3 million opening), The Host ($10 million debut) or Vampire Academy ($3.9 million opening). The Giver was made smartly, costing only $25 million to bring to the screen. If it picks up a few bucks overseas and its legs match the potential trajectory indicated by B+ Cinemascore, this one just may make it.