Here's your weekend box office returns (new releases bolded):
1. The Expendables 2 - $28.7 million
2. The Bourne Legacy - $17.0 million
3. ParaNorman - $14.0 million
4. The Campaign - $13.3 million
5. Sparkle - $12.0 million
6. The Dark Knight Rises - $11.1 million
7. The Odd Life of Timothy Green - $10.9 million
8. Hope Springs - $9.1 million
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days - $3.8 million
10. Total Recall - $3.5 million
Lionsgate chose not to screen The Expendables 2 this week for critics. At least not for critics outside of New York and Los Angeles. Whatever positive reviews giving the film a pass for nostalgia and all-around ridiculous excess hardly mattered as the word was already out that it was apparently worth hiding. Cause and effect notwithstanding, these are not the numbers the studio could have hoped for in the U.S. for its $100 million-budgeted extravaganza. With the addition of relics Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and beefed-up roles for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, anything short of the original's $34.8 million opening had to be a disappointment-- especially once lackluster word of mouth on The Bourne Legacy opened the door for guys to get the action fix they felt they didn't get the week prior. On the other hand, they kinda didn't want people to see it in the first place. So, win-win?
Not if we're being serious. Sure, the bright side suggests it is the second highest opening of Stallone's career (second to only the first Expendables) in a leading role. Same goes for Jason Statham. When it comes to R-rated releases in August going back to 2000 though, where does The Expendables 2 rank?
American Pie 2 ($45.1 million), Inglourious Basterds ($38.0), District 9 ($37.3), Freddy vs. Jason ($36.4), The Expendables ($34.8), American Wedding ($33.3), Superbad ($33), The Expendables 2 ($28.7), The Final Destination ($27.4), Hollow Man ($26.4).
Basterds, Superbad and the horror-icon mash-up all were third weekend August releases when the box office begins to wind down into school season as well. The film's direct challenger, The Bourne Legacy, lost 56% of its audience from last week; the biggest drop for any of the Bourne films and it still couldn't punch home much more than its $21 million fall. People still chose to see Total Recall over the weekend rather than The Expendables 2. How does that happen? The first film dropped 51% and had slightly better legs than expected through Labor Day. If the sequel follows the same path it could end up with around $85 million, though that seems optimistic. Then if it can match the $171 million international take of the original, Lionsgate can sleep tight that they got just as many people as they needed to pretend that this film never existed on the books, too.
More interesting are the pair of family films released this weekend. ParaNorman is for parents to take their kids to and The Odd Life of Timothy Green is for those who wish they had kids to take to see ParaNorman. Time will tell which film might actually frighten children more. The numbers though should be a bit more frightening for its studios even though these are scares that they should have seen coming. Unless you have Anne Hathaway getting a makeover or Lindsay Lohan remaking your catalog in her prime, time has not been kind to "G" and "PG" films released in the late summer. (Nor Lindsay Lohan.)
The Princess Diaries 2 ($22.9 million), The Princess Diaries ($22.8), Freaky Friday ($22.2), Spy Kids 2 ($16.7), Barnyard ($15.8), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days ($14.62), Star Wars: The Clone Wars ($14.61), ParaNorman ($14.0), The Master of Disguise ($12.5), Spy Kids: All the Time in the World ($11.6).
Those are the best numbers since 2000. What to go on? See how many of these films you forgot about already:
Underdog ($11.5 million), The Odd Life of Timothy Green ($10.9), Mr. Bean's Holiday ($9.8), Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie ($9.4), Nanny McPhee Returns ($8.4), Shorts ($6.4), Glee The 3D Concert Movie ($5.96), Valiant ($5.91), Osmosis Jones ($5.2), Material Girls ($4.6), Zoom ($4.5), Godzilla 2000 ($4.4), Bratz ($4.2), How to Eat Fried Worms ($4.0), Ponyo ($3.5), Daddy Day Camp ($3.4), Super Babies: Baby Geniuses 2 ($3.2), Fly Me to the Moon ($1.9), Benji Off the Leash ($1.5)
All August releases. Take Hathaway, remakes, reboots and sequels out of the equation and you're looking at an average final gross of $22.6 million. The seven animated films averaged a $27 million gross. Both ParaNorman and Timothy Green will do better than that. Timmy got a head start on Wednesday and has already taken in $15.1 million. With nothing but something called the Oogieloves invading theaters, the troubled young boys will hope they can settle into the $40 million range. Don't expect much higher, even if ParaNorman (the best animated film of the year to date) deserves much better than to struggle to reach the opening weekend numbers ($46.6 million) of the fourth Ice Age film.
Speaking of seeing the dead, Whitney Houston was in theaters this weekend. Uncomfortable as it may have been to see her play a character who wasted her talent and self-admittedly "never woke up in her OWN vomit," people still showed up to hear her sing one last song. Sparkle's $12 million couldn't hold a burning candle to Michael Jackson's post-mortem capitalization in 2009 with This Is It, which opened to $23.2 million just 125 days after his passing compared to the 188 days it took to bring Sparkle to the big screen. The film also finished behind 2012's other films with primarily African-American casts including Think Like a Man ($33.6 million), Red Tails ($18.7) and the two Tyler Perry films, Madea's Witness Protection ($25.3) and Good Deeds ($15.5).
In much happier news, The Dark Knight Rises became the fourth fastest film to reach $400 million. In just 29 days, it reached the milestone 14 days faster than Shrek 2 but 11 days slower than its predecessor. Still $41 million ahead of Shrek 2's $441 million pace. At this rate, with few films liable to knock it out of the Top 10 until well after Labor Day, Christopher Nolan's film should settle in around $450-$460 for the fifth-highest-grossing domestic film in its initial run as well as approaching a billion dollars worldwide. Less happy is Universal, which is ending the summer on a down note with The Bourne Legacy unlikely to reach the $125 million of the 2002 original. Sony's Total Recall is turning into not only one of the biggest bombs of the summer, but of the year. Feel free to make your own jokes about what is truly expendable when only $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.