SATURDAY AM: An over-the-hill franchise fourthquel, Expendables 4, arriving in the thick of a SAG-AFTRA strike, is sending the weekend box office to its lowest level year-to-date, with all movies set to make $49M. And there isn’t even snow on the ground. That figure is lower than the box office over Super Bowl weekend of $52.6M, when Magic Mike’s Last Dance led.
Ya know what opened a year ago at this time? The tabloid-laden Don’t Worry Darling rose to $19.3M (overall weekend then for all pics was $62.4M). By comparison, that Florence Pugh-Harry Styles-Chris Pine movie’s start looks like a blockbuster next to Millenium Media/Lionsgate’s Expendables 4, which is currently in a close call with New Line’s third weekend of Nun II at about $8M apiece. As one producer’s hysterical bemoaning catchphrase to me about duds at the box office puts it, “Nobody’s goin’! Nobody’s goin’!”
Indeed, nobody was asking for Expendables 4, and for those who decided to sit in a dark room eating popcorn, the Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham aging action star franchise lands a B- CinemaScore, 2 1/2 stars/64% on Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak (that’s a D-), with Deadline’s Todd McCarthy claiming that the fourth movie here recycled footage from Meg 2, his review reading that the movie “indisputably takes the cake for recycling previously used material in a not-exactly-fresh context.” Expendables 4 is also the worst-reviewed in the series at 16% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes.
Yes, there is some quotient of the SAG-AFTRA strike preventing Stallone and the cast from yelling “Yo, Adrian,” in the promotion of this latest Expendables to raise its profile. However, it’s clear when you don’t improve and plus-up in each sequel and mail it in, that makes action stars dull boys.
Again, we can’t cry a complete river on the SAG-AFTRA strike having an impact on Expendables 4, as we’ve seen genre sequels such as Meg 2 (with Statham!), Nun 2, and Equalizer 3 open. And that boils down to TV ad spend. And when Lionsgate doesn’t have the goods, they don’t spend. Supposedly, Saw X is expected to lead the box office at $20M+ next weekend, ahead of Regency/20th Century Studios/Disney’s brilliant sci-fi Gareth Edwards movie, The Creator.
We’ll see about that, as Disney has been trumpeting and sending out figures dressed as robots to NFL games to make this movie a discovered event. Lionsgate, I’m told, spent around $20M for UK and U.S. rights on Expendables 4, with another $20M on U.S. P&A. They’re always about getting these dudes-with-a-gun movies in theaters and into home entertainment fast, so they can profit. However, this isn’t an opening to brag about here for Expendables 4, and with an overall production cost of $100M in a foreign sales-funded model, we’ll someone is going to get burned.
Remember, Expendables 4 overall was built for an overseas market. The previous threequel, which hit a previous low point at the B.O. in the franchise, generated 81% of its $214.6M take abroad.
The battle report on Expendables 4 is that 64% guys showed up, with close to half being between 25-44. Diversity demos were 39% Caucasian, 27% Latino and Hispanic, 16% Black, and 18% Asian/other. Any business to be done on the Stallone-Statham movie was in the South, South Central, and West. But ennui across the board. PLFs are repping 37% of the gross. AMC Burbank currently has the highest gross stateside with slightly more than $13K.
NEON has a horror movie, It Lives Inside, not to be confused with the Stephen King movies, and it’s opening in 2,010 theaters to $2.6M. The Bishal Dutta-directed and co-written movie follows an Indian-American teenager who is struggling with her cultural identity. She has a falling out with her former best friend and, in the process, unwittingly releases a demonic entity that grows stronger by feeding on her loneliness. Critics aren’t freaking out at 63% RT, and an even lower audience score of 36% and 44% on PostTrak (that’s an F). The few who showed were 55% guys, with 63% of the audience being between 18-34. Diversity demos were 36% White, 32% Latino and Hispanic, 9% Black, and 23% Asian/other. Most of the business was in the West, which saw 30% of the gross versus the standard norm of 25%. AMC Burbank is the top theater in the nation for the NEON genre release at $6k.
A24 has the Imax play of Jonathan Demme’s 4K remastered cut of Talking Heads 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense, which is eyeing around an estimated $815K at 264 locations and about $1.4M running total, including the Live Imax event out of TIFF. Good numbers, I’m told, in NYC, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, and Toronto to name a few.
Saturday estimates from industry figures:
1.) Expendables 4 (LG) 3518 theaters, Fri $3.2M, 3-day $7.9M/Wk 1
1) The Nun 2 (NL) 3,536 theaters (-207), Fri $2.4M (-45%) 3-day $7.8M (-46%) Total $68.6M/Wk 3
3.) A Haunting in Venice (Dis) 3,305 Fri $1.7M (-69%), 3-day $6M (-58%)/Total $25M/Wk 2
4.) Equalizer 3 (Sony) 3,270 (-258) theaters Fri $1.35M (-36%) 3-day $4.7M (-35%), Total: $81.2M /Wk 4
5.) Barbie (WB) 2,634 (-378) theaters, Fri $850K (-16%) 3-day $2.86M (-25%) Total $630.1M/Wk 10
6.) My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Uni) 3,078 (-600) theaters Fri $830K (-40%) 3-day $2.75M (-42%) Total $23.5M/Wk 3
7.) It Lives Inside (NEON) 2,010 theaters, Fri $1M, 3-day $2.6M/Wk 1
8.) Dumb Money (Sony) 616 (+608) theaters, Fri $985K (+967%) 3-day $2.33M (+959%), Total $2.6M/Wk 2
9.) Blue Beetle (WB) 1,953 (-433) theaters, Fri $400K (-31%) 3-day $1.73M (-31%)/Total $69.7M/Wk 6
10.) Teenage Mutanta Ninja Turtles…(Par) 1,751 (-315) theaters Fri $335K (-24%) 3-day $1.55M (-24%) Total $116.1M/Wk 8
FRIDAY MIDDAY: Uh, it’s going bound to be another low weekend at the box office, possibly lower than last weekend second worst of 2023 ($62.8M). How is that? Well, Millenium Media and Lionsgate’s Expendables 4 is coming in currently below expectations with $8M-$10M for the weekend at 3,518 theaters, which would rep the lowest for the Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham franchise. Friday looks to be around $3.3M vs. the near $6M of Expendables 3 back in 2014.
Look in all fairness, despite franchises like Equalizer and Nun showing that they can open during a SAG-AFTRA strike when actors can’t promote, and a WGA strike where late night shows are shut down, it would indeed help to put Stallone and Statham out there to raise the awareness on this movie. That’s certainly a crowbar to the knee here for Expendables 4. At the same time, no one is rushing to see this tired franchise which has seen depreciating box office results over the years; not to mention, the bank for a movie like this is abroad, not here.
RelishMix spotted grey clouds on social media ahead of the weekend for the fourthquel. First of all, in the nine years since Expendables 3, the pic’s pre-release awareness levels were running 22% under action-adventure genre levels with a total draw across Facebook, X, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok of just over 100M.
In addition, there’s mixed, critical and sarcastic chatter about Expendables 4 on social media: While fans wonder where the story is headed, “they’re questioning casting, location, past installments and the next one”. That said, RelishMix notices that “the levels of global, intention chatter clearly show that this is connecting with a global audience.” Also “fans are wondering why Terry Crews is missing from this one — and delighted that Jason Statham, Sly and Megan Fox is on the mix to balance the roster.”
Second is New Line’s Nun II at 3,536 theaters with $2.2M today and a third weekend of $7.4M, -49% for a running total by EOD Sunday of $68.2M.
Third goes to 20th Century Studios/Disney’s second weekend of A Haunting in Venice at 3,305 theaters for a Friday of $1.85M, and 3 day of $5.8M, -59% for a running total of $24.9M. Kenneth Branagh’s previous Hercule Poirot movie, Death on the Nile had a better second weekend of $6.5M and had a better hold at -49%.
Fourth is Sony’s The Equalizer 3 at 3,270 theaters, with a fourth Friday of $1.3M, 3-day of $4.5M, -38%, and a running total of $81M.
Fifth is Warner Bros. Barbie with $900K-plus today, and a tenth weekend, boosted by Imax, of $3.5M, -8% for a running cume by Sunday of $630.7M.
FRIDAY AM: Millennium Media and Lionsgate’s Expendables 4 was the only new wide release Thursday night, seeing $750K in previews that began at 6 p.m..
The Sylvester Stallone-Jason Statham fourthquel is only expected to make between $15M-$17M. If the movie bests the opening weekend of 2014’s The Expendables 3 ($15.8M), then Lionsgate will be happy. The fourth movie is playing at 3,518 locations, including 900 PLF screens comprising XD, RPX, Dolby, 4DX and D-box. Lionsgate has UK in addition to U.S. on the Scott Waugh-directed action movie.
That figure is under the preview take of Expendables 3, which did $875K off showtimes that began at 8 p.m. Ouch. Expendables 4‘s Thursday is a tad higher than that of Gerard Butler’s Plane from Lionsgate, which did $625K and opened to $10.2M in Janaury. At the same time, Expendables 4‘s previews are a far cry from Stallone’s 2019 pre-pandemic Rambo: Last Blood aka Rambo 5, which did $1.3M off 7 p.m. showtimes, resulting in a $18.8M opening.
The latest installment is the worst-reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes at 14% rotten, not that this franchise was ever a critical darling. However, the Stallone-Statham series generally has done quite well with moviegoers, the first movie earning a B+ Cinemascore, with parts 2 and 3 each earning an A-. Interestingly enough, the second movie back in 2012 had the best reviews among RT critics at 67%, while the 2010 original was 41% rotten and Part 3 was 31% rotten.
After last weekend was the second-lowest of 2023 for the overall domestic box office at $62.8M, this weekend isn’t bound to be any better. Expect more or less the same, or worse. Trying to give the marketplace a spike are 300 Imax locations of A24’s rerelease of Talking Heads’ 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense as well as Barbie making her debut in that large format exhibitor’s auditoriums.
The rest on Thursday and for the week:
New Line’s The Nun 2 ends her second week with $19M at 3,743 theaters and a $60M running total after a $925K Thursday, -8% from Wednesday.
20th Century Studios/Disney’s A Haunting in Venice came in second on Thursday with an estimated $804K, -22% for a first-week take of $19M at 3,305 theaters.
Sony’s The Equalizer 3 at 3,528 saw a third week of $10M, a $584K Thursday, -10% and a running total of $76.5M. That’s 9% behind Equalizer 2 at the same point in time which ended its 2018 run at $102M, and it’s also 9% behind the 2014 first film, which wound up with $101.5M domestic.
Focus Features’ second week of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 earned $6.9M for a $20.8M running total. Thursday was $419K, -11% from Wednesday at 3,678.
Warner Bros. Barbie, before her Imax-loaded 10th weekend, saw a ninth week of $5.1M at 3,012 theaters, after a Thursday of $315K, +10% from Wednesday for a running cume of $627.2M. She’ll likely sit as the 11th-highest-grossing movie at the domestic box office: the No. 10 pic, Universal’s Jurassic World, stands at $653.4M. The new Imax release this week includes a new fresh post-end credits sequence.
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