To emphasize how bad August's releases were, the top movie for the month was actually a holdover from July. The Dark Knight Rises earned $122.7 million in August, bringing its total to $426.7 million through the end of the month. At the same point in its run, predecessor The Dark Knight was at $495.8 million, and The Dark Knight Rises is going to ultimately wind up around $80 million shy of that movie's $533 million total.
The Bourne Legacy was the highest-grossing August release with $90.8 million through 22 days. In comparison, The Bourne Ultimatum had earned nearly twice as much ($176.5 million) through the same period. The franchise reboot/spin-off is at least tracking ahead of The Bourne Identity ($83 million), but that gap has been closing quickly, and Legacy is going to have a tough time matching Identity's $121.7 million total. That's a bit disappointing considering Legacy has the benefit of an established brand and 10 years of ticket price inflation.
The Campaign took third place for the month with $69 million. That's on the low-end for Will Ferrell's Summer movies, though it's still solid considering the limited potential of the genre: The Campaign is already the highest-grossing political campaign movie ever.
The Expendables 2 couldn't overcome the classic "been there, done that" feeling that comes with a lot of sequels. Through 15 days in August the movie earned $59.6 million, which trailed the original by over $15 million.
One of Summer 2012's biggest bombs, the Total Recall remake, took fifth place with just $56.1 million in August. It's already near the end of its run, and it will close a bit below May disaster Battleship ($65.2 million).
With $48.5 million in August, Hope Springs is on track to be a mild success with a final tally north of $60 million. That number looks less impressive, though, when compared to star Meryl Streep's last Summer movie, Julie & Julia, which earned $94.1 million. Ditto for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days: the movie's $44.1 million August gross is solid for a low-budget kids movie, but continues the series' trend of declining grosses ($64 million for the first movie, $52.7 million for the second).
ParaNorman and The Odd Life of Timothy Green never gained much traction with family audiences: the movies ended the month with $32.9 million and $31.3 million, respectively. Still, both are fairly modest projects, and won't noticeably hurt the bottom line anywhere.
The rest of the pack was even more underwhelming. Sparkle had a decent opening but plummeted quickly and wound up with just $20.4 million through 15 days. Premium Rush, Hit and Run and The Apparition ended the month with terrible debuts, and none made more than $9 million through their first week.
A bright spot towards the end of the month was the performance of 2016 Obama's America. The anti-Obama documentary earned $14.6 million, most of which came when it expanded in the last two weeks. It's already the fifth-highest-grossing political documentary ever with $20.6 million, and should move up to second place in the near future.
August brought to an end a Summer that was ultimately a bit underwhelming at the box office. Three out of four of the months were down year-to-year, which translated to a drop of around 2.7 percent from Summer 2011's record-setting $4.4 billion. Year-to-date box office is still trending ahead of 2011 by 4.6 percent, though it's about even with 2010 at this point. A full post-mortem of Summer 2012 is on the way in the next week.
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• Five $50 Million Debuts Propel June Business
• 'Avengers' Accounts for Over Half of May 2012 Grosses
• 'Hunger Games' Tops Average April
• March 2012 Easily Sets Record
• 'The Vow,' 'Safe House' Lead Record-Breaking February
• January 2012 Improves on Atrocious Start to 2011
• Sequels, 3D Can't Save 2011
• November Box Office Down Slightly
• Box Office Slows in October
• 'Lion King' Leads Record-Breaking September
• August Calendar Grosses
• 2012 Grosses (2012-only releases)
• Year-to-Date Comparison