The Expendables 2 easily wound up in first place this weekend, though attendance was noticeably off from the 2010 original. The three other openers were all modest movies that wound up with modest debuts, and none of them were outright misses. The Top 12 earned $127.3 million this weekend, which is a 20 percent improvement over the same period last year.
The Expendables 2 debuted to $28.59 million from 3,316 locations. That's off 18 percent from the original Expendables, which scored $34.8 million on its opening weekend in August 2010. Lionsgate reported that the movie's audience was 63 percent male and 65 percent over the age of 25, and that they awarded the movie an "A-" CinemaScore.
Studios would obviously prefer for sequels to at least match their predecessor's grosses, but that's easier said than done. First, the original movie needs to be incredibly well-liked, and that's not necessarily the case with The Expendables: it has a 6.5 rating on IMDb, which is very middle-of-the-road for a male-skewing action movie. Perhaps more importantly, though, the sequel needs to appear to offer something new, which The Expendables 2 didn't really do. Sure, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris joined the cast, but neither of them was featured prominently in commercials. Instead, the emphasis was on the expanded roles for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, which was tricky to convey given that both actors were included in marketing material for the first outing.
This is still a fine opening for The Expendables 2, and likely puts it on the path to profitability. However, it isn't the kind of performance to build an increasingly expensive franchise on, and if it doesn't hold up incredibly well in the next few weeks it might be tough to get The Expendables 3 going.
In second place, The Bourne Legacy fell 55 percent to $17.06 million. That's a slightly steeper drop than The Bourne Ultimatum (53 percent) and The Bourne Supremacy (54 percent), albeit with a much lower gross-to-date ($69.6 million, compared to $131.6 million and $98.8 million, respectively). It does at least still lead The Bourne Identity ($54.4 million), though matching that movie's $121.7 million total will be tough if Legacy doesn't hang on well next weekend.
ParaNorman took third place with $14.1 million from 3,429 locations. Even with a unique concept and lukewarm competition, the movie still couldn't break out of the standard stop-motion animation opening range, which reinforces how tricky this sub-genre is. The movie's opening was lower than Coraline's $16.8 million, but was at least above April's The Pirates! Band of Misfits ($11.1 million). Audiences gave ParaNorman a "B+" CinemaScore, which isn't quite strong enough to guarantee a prosperous run.
Sparkle rounded out the Top Five with $11.6 million debut, which is a decent opening for a modestly-budgeted, lightly-marketed movie. The audience skewed older (62 percent above 35 years of age) and female (74 percent), and they gave the movie an "A" CinemaScore, all of which indicates that it should play well throughout the rest of the season.
The Dark Knight Rises fell 42 percent to $11.01 million. It's expected to reach $409.8 million on Sunday, which allows it to pass The Hunger Games to take second place for 2012 and 12th place on the all-time chart.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green took in $10.8 million this weekend for a five-day total of $15.1 million. That's good enough for a small movie like this, but has to be a bit disappointing considering Disney started their marketing effort last August. Timothy Green received an "A-" CinemaScore.