Forecast: 'Bourne' Reboot Hopes to Extend Franchise's 'Legacy'

by Ray Subers
The Bourne Legacy

August 9, 2012

After three weeks on top, The Dark Knight Rises is expected to give up first place at the box office this weekend to The Bourne Legacy. The reboot/spin-off of the popular action franchise is opening in 3,746 locations, and should earn at least $30 million over its first three days. Also in the running this weekend are Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis political comedy The Campaign (3,205 locations), Meryl Streep-Tommy Lee Jones romantic comedy Hope Springs (2,361 theaters), and extreme sports movie Nitro Circus the Movie 3D (800 venues).

The Bourne franchise began in 2002, and is one of the rare series that actually earned more money at the domestic box office with each outing. The first movie debuted to $27.1 million, followed by $52.5 million for The Bourne Supremacy and $69.3 million for The Bourne Ultimatum, and the totals increased each time as well. They were also all well-reviewed, and remain fan favorites to this day with strong 7.9, 7.7 and 8.1 ratings on IMDb.

While the franchise is popular in part due to its intense action in exotic locations, a big factor in its success has been Matt Damon's strong portrayal of title character Jason Bourne. With Damon stepping away from the franchise after the third entry, though, Universal Pictures had to come up with a way to keep milking the brand without their title character. Their solution was to create a tangential storyline following an entirely different character named Aaron Cross, whose shoes are being filled by up-and-coming star Jeremy Renner.

Over the last three years, Renner has built a very solid brand thanks to two consecutive Oscar nominations (The Hurt Locker, The Town) and supporting roles in blockbusters Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and this Summer's The Avengers ($616.8 million and counting). Unfortunately, he's still not Matt Damon, and there's an odd disconnect to see previews with the Bourne name that don't feature Jason Bourne.

Recognizing the challenge of extending the brand without the titular star, Universal's marketing campaign has gone to extreme lengths trying to justify this entry in the franchise. The tagline "There Was Never Just One" has been prominently featured in nearly all material, and extensive footage from The Bourne Ultimatum has been used to try and show the connection between the two movies. By spending all that time explaining why this movie exists, though, there hasn't been enough material showing why the movie is actually worth seeing.

With the change in lead actor and the challenged marketing effort, there's absolutely zero chance that The Bourne Legacy matches the heights of The Bourne Ultimatum. That would be unreasonable to expect anyway, though, given the history of franchise reboots. In Universal's pre-weekend materials, they cite three helpful examples of recent reboots and how they fared versus their predecessors. Casino Royale's opening weekend was off 13 percent from Die Another Day, X-Men: First Class was down 46 percent from X-Men: The Last Stand and The Amazing Spider-Man fell 30 percent from Spider-Man 3 over its first five days (though that's not an exact apples-to-apples comparison considering one was released on Friday while the other opened on a Wednesday). The average here is a 30 percent drop, which would put The Bourne Legacy at around $48 million this weekend.

Continued with a look at 'The Campaign,' 'Hope Springs' and 'Nitro Circus,' along with the official Mojo weekend forecast >>

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> MORE: News | Features
New MPAA Ratings Added
DAILY: Monday, 8/13 (35 tracked)
WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'The Meg' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'The Meg' #1
WEEKLY: 'Mission: Impossible 6' Tops the Week with $52.47m
DAILY: Thursday 8/9 (43 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 8/8 (35 tracked)
DAILY: Tuesday, 8/7 (33 tracked)