Sequel earns less domestically than predecessor, but more o'seas

Lionsgate’s “The Expendables 2,” which earned $28.8 million domestically, failed to muscle past its predecessor’s $35 million Stateside opening in 2010. But the sequel got off to a stronger overseas start, estimating $17.3 million from 10 territories.

The weekend’s motley crew of wide openers had enough oomph to lift domestic totals 10% over this time last year.

Focus Features’ stop-motion 3D toon “ParaNorman” — the second animated feature for toon shop Laika, after 2009’s “Coraline” — debuted with a less-than-expected $14 million domestically. But the film displayed an encouraging 18% bump

from Friday to Saturday, more than the usual increase for toons.

Sony’s $14 million-budgeted retro tuner “Sparkle” grossed an estimated $12 million, while Disney’s midweek family entry “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” scored squarely in line with expectations, earning $10.9 million in three days. Pic’s five-day total reached $15.2 million.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight Rises,” with almost $410 million domestically, surpassed “The Hunger Games” as 2012’s second highest-grossing Stateside release. And with $487.8 million overseas, “Dark Knight Rises” eclipsed the second Batpic, which grossed $469.7 million internationally in 2008. “Rises” nears $900 million globally; its predecessor surpassed $1 billion worldwide.

Universal’s “The Bourne Legacy” held better than expected in its second Stateside frame, down just 55%, for an estimated $17 million No. 2-ranking weekend take. Pic has cumed almost $70 million domestically, with an additional $28.1 million from 18 overseas territories.

The specialty B.O. showcased a few noteworthy players: E1’s David Cronenberg pic “Cosmopolis” averaged a robust $24,109 from just three locations. Pic’s estimated $96,437 weekend gross beat Cohen Media Group’s Brit period thriller “The Awakening,” which totaled $94,377 at 70 Stateside engagements.

Samuel Goldwyn’s Sundance pic “Robot and Frank,” starring Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon and James Marsden, seemed to have benefited from its exclusive New York rollout, averaging a healthy $19,117 from just two locations. The film expands Friday into seven additional cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and L.A., with the top 40 U.S. markets slated to bow the pic over Labor Day weekend.

Other studios have positioned their wide releases to play through the holiday. For “ParaNorman,” Focus will take advantage of the remaining kids still on summer vacation, before hoping to appeal to adult filmgoers over Labor Day. The toon’s better-than-average bump on Saturday suggests it appeals to a significant adult aud.

“The 18% increase really does indicate satisfaction with the film,” said Focus distribution prexy Jack Foley, referring also to the pic’s B+ CinemaScore. “The bump was even larger in some West Coast theaters.”

Interest for “ParaNorman” in 3D — especially among adults — may have been aided by Laika predecessor “Coraline,” which earned 70% of its box office as well as critical support for its stereo presentation. But that was at the start of the 3D heyday. Since then, popularity for the format has fallen off dramatically, and 45% for “ParaNorman” in 3D positions the pic at around the new norm for animated 3D openings, comparable to “Madagascar 3″ and “The Smurfs.”

“ParaNorman” has totaled an estimated $7.6 million from nine Latin American markets, including Mexico, which has contributed $6.4 million. Toon expands next weekend into Germany and Russia, where 3D should play a bigger role.

In the U.S., recent competition among male-skewing pics may have hurt “Expendables,” the fourth such film to bow since “The Dark Knight Rises.” Lionsgate maintains limited financial exposure, having spent $35 million to acquire North American and U.K. rights. Millennium Films co-produced.

Plans for an “Expendables” sequel were in the works even before the first film was released on Aug. 13, 2010. Those plans were solidified as the original grew sturdy legs, grossing $103 million domestically.

For “Expendables 2,” several stats suggest the film could ultimately play better than the original: Sequel received an A- CinemaScore vs. the previous pic’s B+ rating. Also, “Expendables 2″ scored 26% of its opening from Latino auds, compared to 20% for the first film.

“Expendables 2″ launched via Universal in Italy and Russia, the latter of which contributed $7.9 million — 45% higher than the first. Pic went out via local distribs in markets including Mexico and the U.K., though a breakdown of the pic’s perf in those territories wasn’t available Sunday.

While “Expendables 2″ earned 63% of its opening from men, Sony’s “Sparkle” — a remake of the 1976 cult fave about three singer sisters in 1960s Motown — played overwhelmingly toward women, at 74%. “Sparkle,” which received an A CinemaScore, could develop shapely legs. Last weekend’s femme-targeted “Hope Springs” fell just 38% in its second outing.

Disney’s “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” also skewed toward women over 25, with a healthy 53% weekend family turnout.

“It’s gratifying to see quality, family filmmaking recognized by audiences who, with their favorable A- CinemaScore, leave us hopeful that word-of-mouth will propel a nice, long run,” said Disney distribution topper Dave Hollis.

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