Weekend Box Office: ‘Expendables’ Indestructible

A bunch of mid-level studio movies entered the box office roller derby this weekend, and more than a few came out the other side with a black eye and dislocated shoulder blade. Summer is winding down, school is starting again in many parts of the country, and the crop of new movies wasn’t particularly inspiring (to anybody, it seems). ‘The Expendables’ being on top for the second weekend in a row says less about that movie’s quality (because it stinks) and more about how mediocre everything else is. Not even a bunch of murderous piranhas flying out of the screen in 3-D was enough to get a rise out of anybody.

Yes, ‘The Expendables‘ – the groan-inducing Sly Stallone vehicle that sells itself as an all-star action movie but is really defined by a bunch of has-been actors and people you’ve never heard of (like Terry Crews, who took over for a role originally intended for Forest Whitaker, of all people) – was #1 again. With a bullet. Or several thousand bullets. It pulled in another $17.2 million, which is a 50% drop from last week, but not enough to knock it out of the top spot.

Vampires Suck,’ a quick, cheapie spoof of the ‘Twilight‘ franchise, came in at #2 with $12.5 million. (It made $18.8 million if you count the grosses since opening on Wednesday.) That makes it the highest debut of a new movie this week. The alleged comedy was directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the notorious duo behind ‘Date Movie,’ ‘Epic Movie,’ ‘Meet the Spartans,’ and ‘Disaster Movie.’ (‘Slate’ called them “symbols of Western Civilization’s decline.”) This weekend was the movie’s best shot at actually being on top. In the coming weeks, expect ‘Vampires Suck’ to disappear completely, though it will undoubtedly be rushed to home video before Halloween. Now let’s never speak of it again.

Another new release, ‘Lottery Ticket,’ secured the third spot with $11.4 million. This urban comedy won’t have the staying power of a Tyler Perry vehicle. Judging from the reviews, it just isn’t very good. And “isn’t very good” translates into “bad word of mouth.” It’ll be interesting to see where this charts next week – probably much, much lower. If a visually inventive, critically regarded, one-of-a-kind movie like ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘ dives from the fifth to tenth spot this week, then studio calibrated junk like ‘Lottery Ticket’ should fall even faster.

While we’re on the subject of movies I loved that didn’t make any money, ‘Piranha 3D‘ – Alexandre Aja’s gonzo take on Joe Dante and Roger Corman’s killer fish movie – came in at lowly #5 with $10.1 million. The movie, which as far as I’m concerned is complete fucking genius, just didn’t connect with audiences. I have a few theories as to why that is, which I’ll save for another post. The movie only cost $24 million to produce, but the weekend haul should have been so much more. It’s that good!

Still, ‘Piranha 3D’ did better than the other two big new releases. ‘The Switch,’ the pregnancy comedy from Disney starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, came in at #7 with $9 million. Emma Thomposon’s ‘Nanny McPhee Returns,’ the sequel to a movie nobody saw in the first place, secured eighth place with $8.3 million. God knows if these will even remain in the Top 10 next week.

Speaking of next week, there looks like very little in the way of commercial new releases. We’ve only got two genre cheapies (the heist movie ‘Takers’ from Sony and horror flick ‘The Last Exorcism’ from Lionsgate) and one titanic (pun very much intended) re-release of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar.’ I’m actually kind of excited to see ‘Avatar’ in 3-D again. Now let the ‘Avatar’ hate in the comments begin!

The Top 10:

01 ‘The Expendables’ (Lionsgate) – $17.2 million

02 ‘Vampires Suck’ (Fox) – $12.5 million

03 ‘Lottery Ticket’ (Warner Bros) – $11.4 million

04 ‘Eat Pray Love’ (Sony) – $11.4 million

05 ‘Piranha 3D’ (Weinstein Company) – $10.1 million

06 ‘The Other Guys’ (Sony) – $9.7 million

07 ‘The Switch’ (Disney) – $9 million

08 ‘Nanny McPhee Returns’ (Universal) – $8.3 million

09 ‘Inception’ (Warner Bros) – $8.2 million

10 ‘Scott Pilgrim vs the World’ (Universal) – $5 million

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