Box Office Guru Wrapup: Stallone Proves He Isn't Expendable

Plus, audiences Love Julia and Scott Pilgrim loses a life.

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In a battle of the sexes, Sylvester Stallone's testosterone-filled action flick The Expendables opened impressively at number one beating out the Julia Roberts globe-trotting drama Eat Pray Love which enjoyed a solid debut of its own in the number two spot. The teen offering Scott Pilgrim vs. The World flopped landing in fifth place in its first weekend of release while the overall marketplace was up versus last year despite being the first frame since October to not have any 3D movies in the Top Five.

Stallone became the first movie star to anchor number one openings in each of the past five decades thanks to The Expendables which bowed on top with an estimated $35M. The R-rated ultra-violent kill-a-thon averaged a muscular $10,714 from 3,270 theaters and drew in business by gathering together a massive number of action stars under one roof. Along with actor-director Stallone were Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, and Eric Roberts. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis also donated tiny cameo appearances and were heavily utilized in the marketing campaign which misled some.



But the opening was a strong one and ranked as the second best in company history for Lionsgate behind just Madea Goes to Jail which debuted to $41M last year. Adult men, not surprisingly, made up the main audience with 61% of the crowd being male and 60% being over 25. The Expendables reportedly cost roughly $70M to produce and is expected to take in solid numbers overseas.

Julia Roberts anchored her first solo starring vehicle in many years and enjoyed a solid debut in second place with an estimated $23.7M for her new soul-searching drama EEat Pray Love. The Sony release, an adaptation of the best-selling book, averaged a sturdy $7,690 from 3,082 locations and beat out the studio's female offering from last August - Meryl Streep's Julie & Julia - which debuted to $20M on its way to $94.1M. Pray may not have the same legs though given its B CinemaScore grade, 4% Friday-to-Saturday dip, and weak reviews from critics. Julie scored a potent A CinemaScore, surged 17% on Saturday, and was well-liked by reviewers, even earning Streep a Best Actress Oscar nomination.



Still, Eat held its own against the heavy artillery from Stallone and company. Studio research indicated that the audience was mostly older women with 72% being female and 56% being over 35. Produced for nearly $60M, the Julia Roberts vehicle drew in fans of the book as well as women pulled in by the lead's starpower. Supporting turns by Javier Bardem and James Franco added a bit too.

Sony claimed the number three spot as well with last weekend's big winner The Other Guys which dropped 49% to an estimated $18M. The Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg action-comedy has banked $70.5M in ten days and looks headed for a $110-120M finish. Spending its fifth weekend in the top five, Christopher Nolan's Inception dropped 39% to an estimated $11.4M putting the cume close to the quarter-billion mark at $248.6M. On Monday, the Warner Bros. smash will break $250M after 32 days of release.

Universal was hoping to score a hit with teens and the comic book crowd with its Michael Cera pic Scott Pilgrim vs. The World but instead was met with disappointing results with an estimated $10.5M debut. The PG-13 pic based on the graphic novel series averaged just $3,735 from 2,818 locations and failed to appeal to moviegoers outside of those familiar with the source material. Scott performed a bit below Cera's 2008 film Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist which debuted to $11.3M and a $4,672 average showing that the young actor still hasn't reached a point where he can open a picture on his own.



With another slim decline of only 27%, Universal's hit 3D toon Despicable Me grossed an estimated $6.8M upping the solid tally to $222M. After posting the lowest opening weekend of the franchise, Step Up 3-D suffered the highest sophomore drop tumbling 58% to an estimated $6.6M for a ten-day take of $29.6M. The first two installments of the dance series witnessed declines of 51% and 49% in the second frame. Despite higher 3D ticket prices, this Buena Vista pic should end up with roughly $45M which would be a new low for the franchise too.

Angelina Jolie's Salt placed eighth with an estimated $6.4M, off 42%, giving Sony $103.6M to date and its third summer release in the century club. Paramount's comedy Dinner For Schmucks followed with an estimated $6.3M, down 39%, for a decent $58.8M sum. The Cats & Dogs sequel fell 41% to an estimated $4.1M for a $35.1M total for Warner Bros.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $128.8M which was up 8% from last year when District 9 opened in the top spot with $37.4M; and up 21% from 2008 when Tropic Thunder stayed at number one with $25.8M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!

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