Here's your weekend box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. The Expendables 2 - $13.5 million
2. The Bourne Legacy - $9.3 million
3. ParaNorman - $8.5 million
4. The Campaign - $7.4 million
5. The Dark Knight Rises - $7.15 million
6. The Odd Life of Timothy Green - $7.12 million
7. Premium Rush - $6.3 million
8. 2016: Obama's America - $6.2 million
9. Hope Springs - $6.0 million
10. Hit & Run - $4.6 million
"$15 or $16 million should be enough to win the box office next weekend as this year's summer season slowly comes to a close." That was the final line of last week's column. Turns out one only needed $13.5 million on back-to-school week for many people. That preordained $15-16 million was even more than the three new wide releases combined this weekend. Little surprise there as none of them were poised to even hit eight digits and Warner Bros.' The Apparition got only a miniscule launch of 810 screens. The bigger mystery is why anyone went to see it at all considering it was not screened for critics and has only mustered up one positive review on Rotten Tomatoes.
The box office numbers are what we are here to discuss though and, expectedly, The Expendables 2 led all films again with the aforementioned $13.5 million haul. With a tally right now of $52.3 million it is about $12 million off the pace of the 2010 original which took in $103 million total. The second chapter, primed for around $80 million or so, still needs about another $150 million internationally if there are to be any serious hopes for a third one. Before this series, Stallone was hardly setting the box office afire. Unless he was playing Rocky Balboa, a live-action Stallone headliner had not grossed $50 million since 1994's The Specialist. Should we really have expected more out of this weekend though?
The week before Labor Day weekend has become pretty much a kiss-off at the U.S. box office. Premium Rush was moved into this slot, probably hoping to cash in on Joseph Gordon-Levitt's presence after The Dark Knight Rises. Hit & Run is budgeted on the ultra-cheap and while a $5.8 million haul (over five days) and 10th place finish hardly qualifies it for "breakout hit" status that some critics were idiotically calling it, the film will be in profit come Monday. The Apparition, not so much. With barely $3 million after three days, the $17-million-budgeted horror film joins Dark Shadows, Rock of Ages and The Campaign as disappointments for the studio this summer. Thankfully for them, Christopher Nolan's film alone was good enough to wipe them off the books. That series' second chapter remained in the Top 10 until the last week of September 2008. The final one should enjoy a spot on the list for, at least, the next three weeks.
The Final Destination ($27.4 million), Takers ($20.5), The Last Exorcism ($20.3), Hero ($18.0), Bring It On ($17.3), Invincible ($17.0), Halloween II (2009 - $16.3), The Brothers Grimm ($15.0), The House Bunny ($14.5), Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid ($12.8)
Since 2000 those are the top openers on the pre-Labor Day weekend. Doesn't look too bad when you have them all bunched together like that. The list becomes a little less impressive the further down you go when you realize that of the 42 films released wide at this time, only 14 of them opened to over $10 million. On that list, Premium Rush places 23rd. Hit & Run finished 29th. The Apparition is 37th, just ahead of The Rocker ($2.6 million) and just behind Super Babies ($3.2 million). Yes, Baby Geniuses 2.
Only five of the last 12 number-one finishers of this weekend were new releases and The Expendables 2's $13.5 million was the weakest since American Pie 2 (in its third week) earned $12.5 million in 2001. The same numbers apply to next weekend's holiday where only five of the last 12 leaders were new releases. Lionsgate is likely to win the box office again, whether it be with The Expendables 2 holding on for dear life or the Sam Raimi-produced The Possession. A third straight weekend on top would tie Lionsgate with Sony/Screen Gems with seven number-one weekends in 2012, just barely behind Universal's tally of eight.
What may be the most impressive, if disconcerting, box office story of the week, 2016: Obama's America expanded to over 1,000 screens and jumped up to number eight in the Top 10, fittingly enough just behind The Campaign. Rocky Mountain Pictures, which also released the fittingly titled Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed as well as last year's derided Atlas Shrugged: Part I, are on the verge of having their biggest hit to date. The film, with a current gross of $9.1 million, is based on a book by conservative codirector Dinesh D'Souza that purports to predict just where we'll be in four years if we reelect our current president. Considering how a tragic shooting, the Olympics or a mere change in weather can affect the prognostication of something as trivial as box office receipts from week to week in a single month's time, the best of luck to D'Souza and this film predicting the global economy, climate change and the war on terrorism -- abroad and domestic -- for the next 200-plus weeks. Hard to predict whether or not 2016 can outdo Chimpanzee's $28.9 million as the year's most successful documentary, but it is third on that list right now behind the $25.2 million of Katy Perry: Part of Me, proving that America really does love big boobs.
[All figures via Box Office Mojo]