There were three wide releases over the weekend. The R-rated comedy Let’s Be Cops made on a modest budget of $17 million, the utopian / dystopian world of The Giver made on a budget of $25 million and based on an acclaimed novel, and the latest instalment of the action franchise The Expendables 3 which had a $90 million production budget. Strangely, none of them made even the top two spots of the box-office in North America. In fact Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fell by about 57% on its second weekend and still remained top of the box-office charts with a weekend earning of $28.4 million. The movie has grossed $118 million so far in North America and is being rolled out gradually worldwide. It would be quite phenomenal if this movie ends up with half a billion dollars in worldwide revenues by the end of its theatrical run, but even a $400 million kinda figure would put it on solid ground. No wonder a sequel is already in the making! Another affirmative hit is of course Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy which has grossed $419 million worldwide so far, and considering that more than half of it has till now come from the domestic market, that is bound to change. The superb word-of-mouth for the film is going to give it long legs, and it could very well surpass Captain America: The Winter Soldier in worldwide collections (it will manage that comfortably in the domestic market for sure).
So on a weekend where we would have expected Stallone and his gang to take the top prize, The Expendables 3 strangely finds itself in fourth position. Is it franchise fatigue? Is it on account of the leaked video that came out only a few weeks before the release? Is it the PG-13 rating as opposed to the R-rating of the previous two films? It could very well be a mix of all these factors. But even then, a $16.2 million opening for The Expendables 3 is, simply put, quite terrible, and way off the openings of The Expendables ($34.8 million) and The Expendables 2 ($28.6 million). At a time when Scarlett Johansson taught a thing or two about “kicking butt” in Lucy, the rather dependable action heroes have faltered with the likes of Hercules and now The Expendables 3. But despite the domestic debacle, we may even see a fourth version of this franchise, if the international appeal remains. The Expendables 2 had earned a strong $220 million in foreign markets alone, and those kind of numbers could still save the day for distributor Lionsgate. A lesson though to other studios, a PG-13 rating in no way guarantees a wider audience!
The R-rated comedy Let’s Be Cops jumped above The Expendables 3 with a $17.7 million opening over the weekend. All in all, this comes across as one of those “silly comedy movies” which manage to do decent business. Its 10% score on Rottentomatoes may not do much damage, as the movie’s budget itself is quite limited, and over the five days of its release, it has already earned about $27 million. On the other hand, much more would have been expected from The Giver which had a strong source material to begin with. The $12.8 million opening weekend ain’t laudatory, nor are the reviews much praiseworthy. This is especially disappointing when the cast has the names of Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, with the likes of Taylor Swift added in probably to attract the younger crowd; unfortunately, not many were attracted.
Last weekend, we mentioned that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had earned more than $500 million worldwide (and counting). This time another sequel has achieved the same result, DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon 2. This is great news for the animation studio that has been struggling lately with the quality of its products, though How To Train Your Dragon 2 had lived up to the expectations. Nonetheless, when the opening of the movie in North America had been weaker than that of the first movie, it seemed dubious that the movie could surpass the collections of the first movie. Well, it did fall quite short in terms of domestic collections (about $45 million lower), but a better overseas performance (and especially in China, once again) has pushed this movie to $535 million worldwide earnings tally as on date, better than the $495 million earned by the predecessor worldwide in 2011. Another sequel is surely on its way…
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($28.4 million; second weekend)
2. Guardians of the Galaxy ($24.7 million; third weekend)
3. Let’s Be Cops ($17.7 million)
4. The Expendables 3 ($16.2 million)
5. The Giver ($12.8 million)