Box Office: ‘Expendables 3’ Fumbles With $16.2 Million, ‘Ninja Turtles’ Tops Charts

The Expendables 3

The Expendables 3” looked like a franchise that needs to be put out to pasture after the latest film in the action junkie series debuted to a scrawny $16.2 million this weekend, according to studio estimates.

“Expendables'” lack of muscle allowed “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to retain the box office crown it wore last weekend. Paramount Pictures’ reboot of the reptile martial artists series grabbed first place on the charts with $28.4 million in its sophomore weekend. That brings its domestic total to $117.6 million.

Another holdover, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” scored runner-up status. The comicbook adaptation pulled in $24.7 million, driving its total domestic box office to $222.3 million. It looks like it will end up as the summer’s top grossing domestic release, passing “Transformers: Age of Extinction’s” $243.3 million haul.

“Expendables 3’s” opening was a low-point for Sylvester Stallone’s geriatric heroes on a mission pictures. The original film launched to $34.8 million in 2010 while the second installment debuted to $28.6 million in 2012. Audiences may have grown tired of watching AARP members with guns, even if the producers excavated a few more Reagan-era stars in the form of Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson.

It’s been nearly a decade since Indiana Jones and Martin Riggs opened a picture, but “The Expendables 3” may also have been hurt by piracy. Three weeks before the film hit theaters, a leaked copy was downloaded 189,000 times through piracy sites.

Lionsgate, which is distributing the film in North America, did not release a budget, but if Stallone and company want to get into profitable terrain, they’ll need to do so overseas where audiences have fonder memories of “Cliffhanger” and Jason Statham is next to godliness. Millennium backed the picture.

Stateside, the film debuted in 3,221 theaters and attracted an audience that was 61% male and 66% over the age of 25.  Those who saw it liked it, apparently, rewarding it was an A- CinemaScore rating. The older crowds could bode well for the picture, according to Lionsgate president of domestic distribution Richie Fay.

“Our audience being older has a tendency to come out at their own pace,” he argued. “They’re not driven by publicity to get out on the first weekend. They’re less impulsive. It’s going to be a profitable movie for Lionsgate, one that continues to play.”

“Expendables” sputtered out, but “Let’s Be Cops”  did solid business. The low-budget, $17 million R-rated comedy from 20th Century Fox snagged $17.7 million this weekend in 3,094 locations, and has made $26.1 million since it premiered on Tuesday.

“My take away? Audiences want to laugh,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s distribution chief. “Any time you can gross more than your budget in three days is pretty cool.”

Going into the weekend, some analysts expected the picture to perform even more strongly, possibly passing $20 million for the weekend, but the critics were savage, which likely held down numbers slightly.

The film, which pokes fun at boys in blue, arrived while a real life law enforcement controversy played out in Ferguson, Mo., where the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old by police led to protests. Aronson said there was no impact on “Let’s Be Cops'” box office, noting that art didn’t really imitate life in this case.

“As unfortunate as that situation is, audiences aren’t making a connection,” said Aronson. “This is a flat-out farce.”

It counts as a win for Fox, in a summer filled with them — one that’s seen the releases of “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which danced past $200 million domestically this weekend.

The weekend’s other wide release, “The Giver,” took in a middling $12.8 million over 3,003 locations. The Weinstein Co. backed the $25 million- budgeted film, which adapts Lois Lowry’s widely read futuristic novel.

The studio had expected the film to debut in the mid-teens and was disappointed by the results. “The Giver” brought in a crowd that was two-thirds female, and 53% under the age of 25.  It played particularly well to girls under the age of 17.

“For its core demo, they really like it,” said Erik Lomis, the Weinstein’s Co.’s head of theatrical distribution. “Young girls go crazy for it and we’ve had a lot of success in Middle America. When the dust settles, the movie will find its audience.”

“The Hundred-Foot Journey” barely registered last weekend, when the news was all about “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'” box office dominance, but the dueling chefs drama has some impressive legs. The film dropped a mere 35% in its second weekend, picking up $7.1 million and pushing its domestic tally to $23.6 million.

In arthouse news, “The Trip to Italy” opened on three screens, picking up $71,577 for a strong $23,859 per-screen average.  The film reunites gastronomic travelers Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, who memorably unveiled dueling Michael Caine impressions in 2010’s “The Trip,” but substitutes pasta for British cuisine this go round. Probably a good thing for those with a more refined palate, though no offense to bangers and mash aficionados.

Sony Pictures Classics expanded “Magic in the Moonlight” from 170 to 964 screens, picking up $1.9 million in the process. The Woody Allen confection has now made $4.7 million after four weeks in theaters. IFC’s “Boyhood” keeps chugging along. The 12 years in the making indie picked up $2.1 million, bringing its total after six weeks to $13.8 million.

The overall box office was relatively flat with the same weekend a year ago, when “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” debuted and became a surprise hit.

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  1. Paul says:

    Just avoid expendables. It’s awful. I had to walk out. I imagine Star Wars is now worried as Harrison Fords career is now well & truly over. He’s just an old man who sadly isn’t convincing in these kinds of roles anymore.

  2. Leo T says:

    Guardians is by far the best movie I’ve seen in years. It’s great to see a truly fun block buster like this. Going to see it again. If it continues like this it will easily make a billion.

  3. theodore nolan says:

    Be well rested before going to see Expendables III as it will wear you out. (and, check your disbelief at the door) It is two hours of non-stop of kick-azz gun fights, hand to hand fights, knife fights, explosions, tank battles, air to air combat, and a gun-toting semi-hot chick. (who doesn’t show enough skin). Go see this fun movie.

  4. Leon A Davis says:

    Sure, they haul out the geezers but honestly, who else is there in H-wood to replace them? The studios have no bench. Once these guys are gone, that’s it. Most movies are made for women, kids, and gays anyway. If they do make a movie directed toward the male audience, it’s for the 15- 24 crowd, and it will have…wait for it..women, kids, and gays…

  5. Erika Metal says:

    O filme é ótimo sim, pirataria atrapalha msm …e o desempenho de Mel, Banderas, Snipes e os outros recém-chegados nesse 3° filme tb foram bem em suas curtas, porém boas participações.

  6. clem says:

    Expendables 3 was a good movie. Both audiences clapped at the end when I saw it. Mel was GREAT.

    • Jacques Strappe says:

      It’s a reflex for senior audience members to clap at the end thinking that will turn the lights on in the theater. That’s how their Clapper works at home..

  7. Merles Haggard says:

    Nice cadence on this box office report, my boy. Way to bring some of those Wrap balls to Variety’s traditionally punk-assed box-office coverage.

  8. Alright, Marvel fans and movie fans in America. We can still get Guardians of the Galaxy to gross $25M this weekend before tonight, so get it gross an extra $320,000 by tonight to get it gross $25.05M by tonight to close the gap on $419M worldwide for Guardians and enough to stay on par with Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s third weekend of $25.6M. Then, from Monday through Thursday, get Guardians to gross $17M with $5M tomorrow, $5.5M Tuesday, $3.75M Wednesday and $2.75M Thursday. Consider following my advice, guys. Ok, thanks. 😉

  9. DorothyParkerlite says:

    Not sure if those piracy numbers would’ve made a difference to be honest. Half those guys wouldn’t bother wasting their $ on going to a theatre, not while there is little or no quality product out there to consume. The article didn’t mention the reality Gibson might still be box office poison domestically and that the younger summer crowds (who haven’t gone back to school yet) might not bother with old guys with guns who made their fame before they were born when mutants are running amok. And mutants who eat pizza? Fuggetaboutit.

  10. Spider says:

    It looks like the combination of piracy, the PG-13 rating, bloodless violence, and the blatant attempt to woo the younger audiences hurt Ex 3. I, for one, enjoyed the flick and knew what to expect going in. Mel Gibson was a rock solid villain and Antonio Banderas stole the show with his intentionally annoying, talkative character-that turned out to be the most fleshed-out of the entire crew of oldies and newbies. This flick delivered the action, but the muddled script and lackluster acting and screen-hogging young crew didn’t do the flick any favors-in addition to the watered down violence. I’m sure Ex 3 will do solid business overseas, though!
    Note to Sly: If you are given the opportunity to make a 4th, please leave your ego aside. Leave the writing to the full time writers. Give every team member equal screen time with something worthwhile and memorable to do. Please stop squandering talent and opportunities and do away with the young crew. Best of all, focus on making the best “Expendables” flick you guys can make. We want to see the original, older badasses doing what they do best!

    • Terrapin says:

      Spider, I think you really nailed the problems with this film. Of course the piracy issue hurt the film some, but I think it’s the other issues that you pointed out that really killed the franchise, at least domestically. The heart and soul of the franchise was the veteran action heroes of the 70s and 80s. Hardcore fans of the franchise don’t care one bit about the young actors they were attempting to add to the franchise and the PG-13 action is noticeably different than from the R rated films. Besides that, franchise fatigue was already setting in when the 2nd film underperformed at the box office. At this point it will take a miracle to get to just $35 million. Expendables 3 is going to be the bomb of the franchise and not in a good way. Being fair though, all the new films failed to put a lot of butts in theater seats in their opening weekend. Let’s Be Cops with +17 million did the best of the bunch. Meanwhile Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with close to $30 million dollars this weekend continues to perform to packed houses.

    • Glenn C. says:

      Well worded. True. He should NOT be writing these. The script is all too important.

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