By Gabe Toro | The Playlist August 12, 2012 at 12:11PM
And so “The Bourne Legacy” continues the 'Bourne' legacy. Tony Gilroy’s franchise revitalization, perhaps best referred to as a “sidequel” for utilizing the series’ mythology while creating its own, opens at number one this weekend, tabulating a solid $40 million in receipts. While this is significantly lower than the opening numbers for both “The Bourne Supremacy” ($52 million) and “The Bourne Ultimatum” ($69 million), it is a new franchise, also the first 'Bourne' picture without star Matt Damon, and thus, likely seemed off-brand to certain audience members entertained by the previous films. So in sort, it's a pretty solid start.
To its credit, 'Legacy' handily topped the $27 million bow of “The Bourne Identity” one decade ago. It’s worth noting, however, that the first picture emerged from a wholly different development process. Back then, the “brand” was still associated to a barely remembered Richard Chamberlain miniseries in the late '80s. In fact, Damon wasn’t even the studio’s first choice and the film's troubled production, coupled with a release date delay, made it a film that Universal was not expecting to succeed. However, solid reviews and an unexpected haul of over $200 million worldwide marked it as a big hit, and it's not a surprise that two years later, a sequel was in theaters.
Expectations are different this time around. The “reboot,” which utilizes a brand name and little else in an attempt to reach new viewers without losing the old, tends to achieve smaller results in both fields. On the high end of Universal’s expectations were results like “Star Trek,” which shattered previous expectations placed on that series (though, at that budget, it was necessary). But 'Legacy' is more in line with “Casino Royale” -- that film’s splashy opening was nonetheless considerably smaller than the film it followed, “Die Another Day.”
But both Daniel Craig and Jeremy Renner were largely testing the leading man franchise waters on their own for the first time, and the results of 'Legacy' suggest that ticket buyers were receptive to the combination of the rising actor along with a well-established series. The industry has done another superb job turning yet another award-nominated actor into an action figure, placing Renner in supporting roles in no-risk blockbusters like “ Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol” (the highest grossing of the series) and “The Avengers” (the third biggest film of all time). And now with 'Legacy,' Renner’s transition from That Guy From “The Hurt Locker” into a leading man of some weight continues, and whether if pays off in 2013 efforts – fairy tale genre flick "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" and James Gray drama "Low Life" – will be interesting to see.
The question now is what kind of legs "The Bourne Legacy" will have over the next few weeks. While some critics and fans have not fallen in the love with change in rhythm and approach of Gilory's more contemplative, conference room drama approach vs. Paul Greengrass' breakneck action, the B CinemaScore suggests audiences for the most part enjoyed the new ride. Word of mouth will be an important factor as will the competition, with action-packed sequel "The Expendables 2" and the bootleggin' drama "Lawless" the only serious contenders as we head into the end of August.
Opening a distant second is “The Campaign,” which debuted in the mid-range of Will Ferrell comedies. Given that he’s one of several comedians that don’t translate overseas and that “The Campaign” deals with American politics, they were hoping for slightly more election year fireworks from this effort. As is, this is still a pretty solid number for a political comedy, as the subgenre is usually a tough sell with the general public. Ferrell’s fanbase skews young, much like fellow “SNL” star Adam Sandler, though only recently has Sandler experimented with R-rated material, with this summer’s flop “That’s My Boy” becoming arguably the biggest bomb of his career. Ferrell’s efforts dance between the ratings, and among his “Restricted” efforts this lands a notch below “Step Brothers” but significantly higher than “Semi-Pro.”
While Ferrell shines from this opening, it likely doesn’t move the needle for co-star Zach Galifianakis, who is still trying to establish his brand as a potential comedic leading man. He’s been smart to pair himself with other A-Listers, as he teamed with red-hot Robert Downey Jr. for “Due Date” and is a fixture with “The Hangover” films. While this was likely a big film for Ferrell and his brand, with frequent collaborator Adam McKay producing, it very much seems like a pitstop for Galifianakis.
“The Dark Knight Rises” eased up, falling out of the top spot as it begins a slow drop down the rest of the lineup. The film may begin to show its muscle in the coming weeks, as “The Bourne Legacy” and “The Campaign” are two pictures that could see sharp second weekend drops. If the WB can maintain the Bat-picture’s screen count, it could conceivably play into September much like “The Dark Knight.” The blockbuster, which is close to $50 million behind its predecessor at the same point, should cross $400 million domestic by next weekend, and will soon rocket past “The Hunger Games” to be the year’s second-highest grossing film stateside. Globally, it's now at $835 million, and passed the final 'Harry Potter' this weekend on the all-time box office list, taking the #15 slot.
Opening last Wednesday, “Hope Springs” was a quiet but solid performer, which is to be expected given the pedigree. A small film about retirees struggling with their marriage, it’s the sort of source material that could play at an arthouse theater somewhere (and likely is). But distributor Columbia Pictures wrapped the script in the warm blanket of unthreatening veterans Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, along with director David Frankel (“Marley & Me”), and they’re likely to be the only wide release playing to this specific demographic for the rest of summer -- at least the wives and mothers, given old-man-baiting “The Expendables 2” sees release next weekend. That will also be the last time we ever use the phrase “old-man-baiting.”
For all his bluster and dead-seriousness, Jones has some recent blockbuster cred, appearing in “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Men In Black 3,” while Streep’s last summer picture was the $100 million-grossing “Julie & Julia,” which came after the “Mamma Mia!” juggernaut. Clearly these two have fanbases that will support their new film beyond the picture impressively pulling in almost $20 million in its first five days despite looking like something no one under forty would enjoy. And while it wasn’t intended as such, this picture follows “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” as tacit acknowledgement that people want to see Steve Carell, but that he’s no longer a genuine leading man -- the star of big summer grossers like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Get Smart” was nowhere to be seen in advertisements for “Hope Springs.”
While the drop wasn’t excessive for “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days,” it does seem clear at this point that the picture will not approach the numbers of the previous two films in the series. As this installment combined the third and fourth books into one storyline, it’s likely Fox could try to squeeze one more effort from this franchise, though the smart money is that any future 'Diary' movies will ditch the summer release date for a safer spring berth. Meanwhile, sneaking bare breasts into a PG-13-rated movie looks like it will be the only victory for “Total Recall” -- the pricey remake might be lucky to gross three quarters of the original film’s $120 million tally, which was done in the early '90s, back when they only had three channels on TV and you had to ride a brontosaurus to school.
The softest fall in the top ten was saved for “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” as the picture is benefiting from an August slate that allows the animated picture a chance to retain its 3D screens with little competition. Though it’s fairly late in the game, this sequel could approach the domestic totals of the previous three films, though that’s not a concern for Fox, racking up the sort of overseas numbers that makes the stateside total something of an afterthought. It stayed well above “Ted,” which finally looks like it’s out of juice after crossing $210 million this weekend, a number that, it’s safe to say, few predicted.
“Step Up Revolution” began to bleed screens on its way out of the public consciousness, possibly signaling the death knell for this series with the lowest 'Step Up' grosses yet. Meanwhile,“The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Watch” both tied to round out the top ten.
1. The Bourne Obligation (Universal) - $40.2 million
2. Politics As Usual (WB) - $27.4 million
3. The Dark Knight Rises (WB) - $19.5 million ($390.1 mil.)
4. Old People Boners (Sony) - $15.6 million ($20 mil.)
5. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Reckoning (Fox) - $8.2 million ($30.5 mil.)
6. Totally Recalled (Sony) - $8.1 million ($44.1 mil.)
7. Ice Age: Because Taking Your Child To The Museum Is Too Much To Ask (Fox) - $6.7 million ($144 mil.)
8. Ted (Universal) - $3.2 million ($209.9 mil.)
9. Dance Dance Revolution (Summit) - $2.8 million ($30.1 mil.)
10. (tie) The Watch (Fox) - $2.2 million ($31.3 mil.)
10. (tie) The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony) - $2.2 million ($255.5)