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‘Expendables’ wins soft weekend

Actioner earns $13.5 mil as conservative docu trails holdovers with $6.3 mil

The summer B.O. doldrums allowed Lionsgate’s “The Expendables 2” to claim its second weekend victory with $13.5 million, while right-wing docu “2016: Obama’s America” made an impressive first-time entry into the domestic top 10, claiming just north of $6.3 million from 1,091 locations.

The weekend saw three modest debuts, led by Sony’s bicycle thriller “Premium Rush” with $6.3 million and Open Road’s Dax Shepard pic “Hit and Run” at $4.7 million, though three-day totals still were up 3% over this same frame last year — typically an underwhelming period at the box office.

Without much competition from the wide openers, “Expendables 2” passed $100 million worldwide this weekend.

“2016,” from distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures, also benefited from a quieter frame, though the anti-Obama docu had trouble drawing more than just Republican first-responders, as the pic fell behind a crush of holdovers to land at No. 7 through Sunday.

The film, which ranked third on Friday, is by far the most successful conservative-skewing documentary ever, having cumed $9.2 million after seven weekends. By comparison, last year’s Sarah Palin docu “The Undefeated” failed to crack even $200,000 domestically.

“We still live in a consumer-driven capitalistic economy, and if there is demand, we will do everything we can to meet it with supply,” said co-director Dinesh D’Souza, who also penned the source books, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” and “Obama’s America.”

“Our plan is to do our best to expand this film to as many theaters as the people demand,” D’Souza added. “We’ll be taking a close look at various markets and determining where we go next,” he added.

Warner Bros. and Dark Castle, meanwhile, punted R-rated scarer “The Apparition,” debuting the pic at just 810 locations, where it collected a meager $3 million.

IFC’s “Sleepwalk With Me” scored the year’s third-highest opening per-screen average, an estimated $65,000, at New York’s IFC Center. Comic Mike Birbiglia made his directing debut with the pic, which saw one of the best debut perfs for the Gotham theater. Based on Birbiglia’s autobiographical monologues and book, “Sleepwalk” expands Friday to the top 20 U.S. markets.

Doing OK business for a foreign-language film, MPI Media’s French “Little White Lies,” directed by Guillaume Canet and starring Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin, averaged $8,833 from three locations.

B.O.’s right-wing crossfire

“2016,” which John Sullivan also wrote and co-directed with D’Souza, began playing theatrically at one location six weeks ago in Houston. But it wasn’t until after the third weekend, when Rocky Mountain expanded the film to Nashville, Tenn., and Kalispell, Mont., that the pic began gaining notice from conservatives.

Pic is now trying to woo auds of all political stripes, launching this weekend in San Francisco and Seattle, as well as L.A.’s AMC Century City and the Rave 18.

Still, the docu’s most robust perfs have been genearated, not surprisingly, in the South and Midwest, in cities such as Baton Rouge, La., and Wichita, Kan. The film’s weekend per-screen average of nearly $5,800 — better than “The Expendables,” at $4,024 from 3,355 locations — is even more significant considering some locations have been screening “2016” for several weeks.

The well-timed expansion of “2016” this weekend almost didn’t happen, because the filmmakers originally wanted to roll out the film as early as June or July. But extended editing postponed the rollout into the less-competitive August play period.

Rocky Mountain also released the second-most successful conservative docu, 2008’s Sullivan-produced “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” which grossed $7.7 million domestically. That film, however, bowed more aggressively at north of 1,000 locations — the widest count for an independently distributed docu until “2016.”

The documentary is headed towards healthy profitability, with $2.5 million in production costs and $6 million spent to market the film.

Budgeted at $32 million, “Premium Rush” launched day-and-date overseas in Malaysia and Taiwan, earning $1.3 million. And while Sony spent little marketing the film, it’ll take much more than that for “Rush” to land in the black. Pic snared a promising B CinemaScore from Stateside auds.

Hit and Run,” meanwhile, marks a disappointing opening after a string of profitable outings for Open Road. Pic cost a reported $1.3 million, with an additional $20 million marketing spend.

Both “Hit and Run” and “Apparition” are looking at decent returns once they hit the homevid market. “Apparition” is the last title from Joel Silver’s Dark Castle shingle to be distributed by Warners.

Overseas, “Expendables” grossed an estimated $18.5 million, according to Rentrak. The film, which has been released in 14 offshore markets so far, reached $48.7 million internationally. “The Dark Knight Rises” again trailed in overseas standing, grossing $15.3 million in its sixth frame, for an international cume of $519 million. Pic should cross $1 billion globally over the next few weeks, with just less than $60 million more to go.

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