Following the success of the “more action stars than you can shake a stick at” formula of 2010’s The Expendables, Lionsgate unleashed The Expendables 2 in 3,316 theaters this weekend, and the results were solid. This time star Sylvester Stallone handed over the directing reins to Simon West (Con Air, Laura Croft: Tomb Raider) so he could concentrate on more ass whuppin’ and less directin’! The first film debuted at number one with $34.8 million and was a surprise mid-August hit, and thus it’s no surprise that this latest installment topped this weekend’s chart with a gross of $28.75 million. There is almost not enough room here to list all of the action stars that take part in the mayhem, including of course Sylvester Stallone and a supporting cast featuring Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
1. The Expendables 2 - $28.75 million (week 1) (LIONSGATE)
2. The Bourne Legacy - $17,019,855/total to date $69,580,935 (week 2) (UNIVERSAL)
3. ParaNorman - $14,008,498/Week 1 (FOCUS FEATURES)
4. The Campaign - $13,385,000/total to date $51,694,000 (week 2) (WARNER BROS.)
5. Sparkle – $12 million (week 1) (SONY)
6. The Dark Knight Rises - $11,140,000/$409,916,000 to date (crossed $400 million mark this weekend) week 5
7. The Odd Life of Timothy Green - $10,909,000/$15,187,000 to date (Opened Wednesday) week 1
Adding to the excitement of this weekend’s action movie leanings was Universal’s The Bourne Legacy starring Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, in a re-boot of the “Bourne” franchise. Last weekend the film topped the chart with $38.1 million, and it has been holding steady all week in first place — it crossed the $50 million mark on Thursday after just seven days of release. The action re-boot had a second weekend gross of $17 million and a North American total by Sunday night of over $69 million.
Besides The Expendables 2, there were three additional wide release openers that found themselves in a box office traffic jam of sorts, with Focus Features’ stop-action animated Paranorman (in 3-D) leading lead the charge with a gross of $14 million. Produced by Coraline creators Laika, the PG-rated horror adventure performed similarly to that film, which scared up $16.8 million in its third place debut back in February of 2009.
Warner Bros.’ The Campaign starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis did well in the mid-week box office primary, garnering votes in the mid $2 million range daily. As bitter rivals in a North Carolina congressional campaign, Farrell and Galifianakis duke it out on the campaign trail to comedic effect. In this its second weekend, a gross of $13.385 million put it in the thick of a very contentious fight for a spot in the top four.
Also opening this weekend was Sparkle from Sony Pictures, which had a debut of $12 million and thus earned back its modest negative cost in its first three days of release. This is a re-make of the 1976 film, which starred Miami Vice’s Philip Michael Thomas and singer Irene Cara, and was co-written by Joel Schumacher (director of Batman Forever and Batman and Robin). This update stars American Idol Season Six winner Jordin Sparks and the late Whitney Houston in her fifth and final screen role, in a tale of an up and coming girl group in Detroit in the Motown era 1960’s. Both films were inspired by the iconic female singing group The Supremes, and this version amps up the star power and the production values to great effect.
Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight Rises took the number 6 spot with $11.1 million, and a North American total that passed the $400 million mark on Friday.
The fourth film making its debut, Disney’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green, got a head start on the weekend with a Wednesday debut in over 2,551 theaters with $2.3 million. The PG-rated fantasy stars Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton and CJ Adams in the titular role of Timothy Green, a 10 year-old boy who shows up on the doorstep of a couple that has been wishing for a child but unable to conceive. Of course the young boy is much more than he appears to be and strange events ensue. A gross of nearly $11 million for the weekend enabled the family drama to sprout $15.2 million for the Wednesday through Sunday period.
Only three summer box office weekends left (including this one) as we struggle to keep up with last year’s summer pace.
[PHOTO CREDIT: LIONSGATE]
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Following the success of the “more action stars than you can shake a stick at” formula of 2010’s “The Expendables,” Lionsgate unleashes “The Expendables 2” which opens in 3,316 theaters this weekend and the results should be explosive. This time star Sylvester Stallone hands over the directing reins to Simon West (“Con Air,” “Laura Croft: Tomb Raider”) so he can concentrate on more ass whuppin’ and less movie directin’! The first film debuted at number one with $34.8 million and was a surprise mid-August hit and thus it’s no surprise that this latest installment will top this weekend’s chart with a gross of about $40 million. There is almost not enough room here to list all of the action stars that take part in the mayhem including of course Sylvester Stallone and a supporting cast featuring Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Adding to the excitement of this weekend’s action movie leanings is Universal’s “The Bourne Leagacy” starring Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross in this re-boot of the “Bourne” franchise. Last weekend the film topped the chart with $38.1 million and has been holding steady all week in first place and crossed the $50 million mark on Thursday after just seven days of release. Solid word-of-mouth will give it a modest second weekend drop, a gross of around $23 million and a North American total by Sunday night of over $70 million.
Besides “The Expendables 2,” there are three additional wide release openers that may find themselves in a box office traffic jam of sorts with Focus Features’ stop-action animated “Paranorman” in 3-D likely to lead the charge with a gross of around $16 to $17 million. Produced by “Coraline” creators Laika, the PG-rated horror adventure should perform similarly to that film which scared up $16.8 million in its third place debut back in February of 2009.
Also opening this weekend is “Sparkle” from Sony Pictures which should have a debut of around $15 million and thus earn back its modest negative cost in its first three days of release. This is a re-make of the 1976 film which starred “Miami Vice’s” Philip Michael Thomas and singer Irene Cara and was co-written by Joel Schumacher (director of “Batman Forever” and “Batman and Robin). This update stars American Idol Season Six winner Jordin Sparks and the late Whitney Houston in her fifth and final screen role in a tale of an up and coming girl group in Detroit in the Motown era 1960’s. Both films were inspired by the iconic female singing group The Supremes and this version amps up the star power and the production values to great effect.
Warner Bros.’ “The Campaign” starring comedy Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis has done well in the mid-week box office primary garnering votes in the mid $2 million range daily. As bitter rivals in a North Carolina congressional campaign, Farrell and Galifianakis duke it out on the campaign trail to comedic effect. In this its second weekend an expected mid-teen gross will put it in the thick of a very contentious fight for a spot in the top three this weekend.
The fourth film making its debut has already banked some green: $2.3 million worth as Disney’s “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” gets a head start on the weekend with a Wednesday debut in over 2,551 theaters. The PG-rated fantasy stars Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton and CJ Adams in the titular role of Timothy Green a 10 year-old boy who shows up on the doorstep of a couple that has been wishing for a child but unable to conceive. Of course the young boy is much more than he appears to be and strange events ensue. A likely gross of just over $10 million for the weekend should enable the family drama to sprout $15 million for the Wednesday through Sunday period.
Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight Rises” will also vie for a spot in the top 5 with a possible gross in the low teens and a North American total that will pass the $400 million mark on Friday.
Only three summer box office weekends left (including this one) as we struggle to keep up with last year’s summer pace.
Mere weeks ago, there was unleashed upon audiences a force that threatened to singe eyebrows and leave giant holes in the backs of countless theaters. That force gathered the gods of action films yesteryear and promptly punched an otherwise bland summer in the face. I am talking, of course, about The Expendables. I racked my brain trying to figure out how summer 2010 could possibly top this truckload of awesome; what ensemble film could bring together a combination of talents to match the collective greatness of The Expendables?
Well, this week sees the release of Takers. a good old-fashioned heist movie seems the perfect vehicle for an unstoppably fantastic ensemble, right? It might have been had the casting director not based all his decisions on a 2005 issue of Tiger Beat. Yes, friends, where The Expendables had Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren, Takers boasts two rappers and two pretty boys with not one iota of talent between them. Let’s examine these doomed couplets against the cast of The Expendables, shall we? I think you’ll find that Takers is primed to be the anti-Expendables, which is how I will refer to the film from this point on.
Sylvester Stallone — Paul Walker
Sly is a hero of American cinema. Forget the fact that action movies reach arguably the widest audience; Sylvester Stallone has created two characters that have become icons of American cinema. The consummate underdog, Rocky, symbolizes the never-give-up American spirit while Rambo poignantly personifies our foreign policy with the aid of rocket launchers and crap-tons of gasoline. So where The Expendables had Stallone, the anti-Expendables has…Paul Walker. At one time in our sad and not-too-distant past, Walker commanded huge salaries and had a franchise built around him involving a privileged white kid playing cop and racing his symbols of excess through the streets. Rambo would not be pleased. As the film begins, and you're again forced to endure Paul’s vapid dopiness, take solace in the fact that they’re probably not going to be stealing a team of sled dogs.
Bruce Willis — Hayden Christensen
Bruce Willis has played more cinematic badasses than I can count. He raised the American action film to new heights with Die Hard and never looked back. His brief cameo in The Expendables put a glorious cherry on that testosterone sundae. For its part, the anti-Expendables has Hayden Christensen. You remember him, right? He was the face of the downfall of an entire saga. I won’t be so naive as to blame him for all of the prequels’ problems, but his whiny, unbelievably unskilled performance did little to correct its downward spiral.
Arnold Schwarzenegger — TI
I am not even sure this couplet needs examining. Arnie has created even more cinematic icons than has Stallone. Films like The Terminator, Predator, Total Recall, Conan the Barbarian, and T2 are not only great but representative of the core canon of most men’s home video collections. His even shorter appearance in The Expendables lent an even more palpable degree of pomp and circumstance to the film. Not to be outdone, the anti-Expendables stars TI. These two letters refer to wannabe recording-artist-turned-wannabe-actor Tip Harris. I’m not saying rappers can’t act; what I am saying is that I’ve seen ATL...
Dolph Lundgren — Chris Brown
Though not quite as beloved as Willis or Stallone -- the latter perhaps because he spent Rocky IV beating the snot out of him --Dolph Lundgren has an impressive fan base that casts him in the same legendary stock as any of the titans featured in The Expendables. Though like Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen, for whom Hollywood tried and failed to cultivate franchises, Dolph always managed to provide a beefy brand of dunderheaded entertainment and created some classics of his own. The anti-Expendables has rapper Chris Brown. Well at least we know that, like Dolph, Chris can hold his own in a brawl…as long as his nemesis is a sexy female singer.
So there you have it. To complete your August film-going experience, why not go see Takers: the anti-Expendables? Where The Expendables was an epic gathering of action-movie legends, Takers is a veritable who’s who of…who cares? If ever Idris Elba had a chance to stand out, this is it.
To read more about the movie, check out the 'Takers' Movie Review by Thomas Leupp.
Lionsgate today released a new poster for Sylvester Stallone's testosteriffic ensemble action flick The Expendables, featuring a design that's sure to inspire many an overexcited fanboy's regrettable first tattoo:
The Expendables opens August 13, 2010. It stars Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke and a whole bunch of other buff, shirtless, stridently heterosexual dudes.
A fictional fever-dream mystery crafted loosely from the notorious still-unsolved 1947 murder of wayward wannabe starlet Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirshner) the tale teams two rising L.A. police detectives whose bone-crunching boxing bout give them political juice—Mr. Ice cool young Dwight “Bucky” Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) and Mr. Fire hotheaded veteran Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart). Both men become embroiled in and obsessed with the sick horrific crime even as Dwight falls hard for Lee’s victimized world-weary live-in love Kay Lake (Scarlett Johansson)—with Lee’s unspoken approval: he’s too busy spiraling downward into a psychotic fixation with solving the murder having previously lost his sister to foul play. But Dwight’s also led astray by the more carnal temptations of voracious Madeline Sprague (Hilary Swank) the daughter of a bizarre high-society family with her own shadowy connections to the Dahlia. Sordid subplots abound simmering and swirling as in death the Black Dahlia threatens to suck everyone into an ever-widening abyss. Not entirely an epic of miscasting the film nevertheless falls short finding performers to essay Ellroy’s compelling cast: Hartnett demonstrates more depth here than in most previous efforts but comes fathoms short of the necessary mix of drive and angst to suit the complex role. Although she physically conveys a maturity beyond her years Johansson shows none of the wounded wisdom of the novel’s Kay—her seductive ethereal air would with an ebony dye job have served her far better as the Dahlia herself a cipher who becomes in the eyes of those obsessed with her whatever they dream her to be. Conversely Kirshner delivers in that elusive spectral role but the been-around-the-block-one-too-many times faded glint in her eyes would have made her a much more involving Kay. Eckhart has the spit and polish of a political-minded cop down pat but lacks the self-destructive inner fire that fuels the façade. Swank is mostly delightful by degrees—many of her choices are intriguing occasionally outrageous and give her femme fatale needed dimensions but others are overindulged. There are certainly macabre grand guignol moments in the story that make it more akin to Sunset Boulevard than its more obvious comparison Ellroy’s own L.A. Confidential but De Palma—never known for his subtlety—handles them with such an overt determined campiness any wry irony is wrung from them. The result is more of a parody—indeed an unflattering caricature—than a modern commentary on classic noir style. Add in his ceaseless camera-swooping swipes from Hitchcock and his ongoing fixation with meaningless gore—ham-fisted homages and hemorrhaging hemoglobin to ape Ellroy’s alliterative gossip-rag riffs—that distract from the intensity of the source material and all that remains is a bloody shame.
FBI special agent Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) is on his final assignment after which he plans to retire and live happily ever after with his wife Maria (Samantha Mathis) and their young son. But as any avid moviegoer knows last assignments always go wrong: A sting operation to nab a contraband firearms dealer results in the unintended death of Bobby Saint the son of Tampa Bay crime syndicate boss Howard Saint (John Travolta). The grieving Saint and his lovely wife Livia (Laura Herring) want the man responsible for their son's death to pay and use their underworld ties to carry out a massacre at a Castle family reunion. But unbeknownst to the Saints Frank survives the carnage and launches a mission of blood vengeance. Sporting a black T-shirt printed with a white skull given to him by his son (to supposedly ward off evil spirits) Frank becomes The Punisher with only one goal: To destroy Howard Saint and everything he stands for. Holed up in a dilapidated tenement Frank meticulously plots on a perfect revenge scheme--and finds unlikely allies in his motley neighbors Mr. Bumpo (John Pinette) Spacker Dave (Ben Foster) and Joan (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos).
As with any comic book adaptation the most important factor is how aptly the actor portrays the superhero or in this case antihero. Jane who last appeared in Dreamcatcher but had a more memorable supporting role as a stringy cocaine addict in Boogie Nights pumped up for the role of the Punisher making him a good physical representation of the comic book character and a convincing military combatant. Travolta's performance as Frank's foe Howard Saint is slightly derivative of the Gabriel Shear character we saw in the 2001 actioner Swordfish: a cold-blooded fanatical underworld villain. It's interesting to note that Howard Saint was not introduced in the comics but is an original character created for the big-screen adaptation. But the addition of Travolta to the cast brings much-needed bigwig star power to this otherwise lesser-known cast. Also introduced in the feature film are Frank's three neighbors Mr. Bumpo (Pinette) Spacker Dave (Foster) and Joan (Romijn-Stamos). These three quirky outcasts add a bit of comic relief to an otherwise grim storyline although the attempt at a love connection between Romijn-Stamos and Jane doesn't ignite any sparks. Look for an entertaining cameo appearance from professional wrestler Kevin "Big Sexy" Nash as "The Russian " sent to reduce Frank to a pile of flesh and broken bones.
The Punisher has quite a few obstacles to overcome in order to be embraced by moviegoers one of them being the 1989 straight-to-video version starring Dolph Lundgren which was just absolutely terrible. Not only did Lundgren look nothing like the comic book version of the Punisher but the film deviated too much from the original storyline. Writer Jonathan Hensleigh who makes his feature directorial debut here remains truer to the comic book's roots not counting the addition of some new characters and the crafting of Frank as an FBI agent. These variations on the comic book work however and help make the story a more character driven one. One element that misses the mark however is the setting sunny Tampa Bay Fla. Although the Saint's waterfront mansion is appropriately seething with opulence there is something "off" about a comic book story not set in Gotham or some other menacing metropolis. But despite the Tampa boo-boo Hensleigh's screenplay provides enough significant moments for moviegoers unfamiliar with The Punisher comic book franchise to latch onto and turns them into a pretty compelling story.