By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood August 12, 2012 at 1:23PM
As the Olympics head to a close, overall weekend grosses show signs of life, and better yet, are spread over several films with different core audiences. All three new films performed well, with “Hope Springs” likely to have the best hold down the line. “The Dark Knight Rises” fell two places to third, but the biggest drop went to “Total Recall,” after a tepid opening weekend, making its second-week fall-off even more disappointing.
1. THE BOURNE LEGACY (Universal) – NEW ( Cinemascore: B; Metacritic score: 61)
$40,300,000 in 3,745 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $10,749; Cumulative: $40,300,000
The second major series reboot of the summer (after “The Amazing Spider-Man”) met expectations with a solid opening. While the numbers were far the last two Damon/Greengrass installments, they are still decent, particularly as this entry earned only slightly favorable reviews, lower than the other “Bourne” films.
The opening puts the $125-million film in position to make money and extend the series. Somewhat surprisingly, the previous films did not show significantly larger foreign returns, so if this installment improves its global performance, this could double the initial cost in gross. Universal reports strong openings in a handful of territories so far.
And although Universal’s most expensive film of the year, “Battleship” badly underperformed, "The Bourne Legacy" continues a string of strong performers – including “Ted,” “The Lorax,” “Snow White and the Huntsman,” and “Safe House.” Their diverse slate paid off.
This should be a boost for Jeremy Renner, the late-blooming actor who has been riding a wave since “The Hurt Locker” with a series of smart career choices. He took a supporting role in Ben Affleck's well-reviewed hit (“The Town”), which earned him his second Oscar nomination, followed by significant non-leads in “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “The Avengers.” All this gave him the heft to step in for Matt Damon. Renner can take considerable credit if the film continues to play well. He is now approaching A-list status (as older male stars Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp and Adam Sandler stumbled this summer).
Tony Gilroy, who co-wrote the earlier "Bourne" films, shows that he can handle more than adult-oriented dramas like “Michael Clayton" and the underperforming "Duplicity." The weekend total for "Legacy" comes in just below the total domestic gross for both of those earlier films.
What comes next: The movie needs to hold well and show overseas strength to justify another sequel. Heading into a post-Olympics environment, the movie could surpass $100 million in the US/Canada, then more than double that elsewhere if it follows normal patterns. Its B Cinemascore suggests that word of mouth is not universally strong, however.
2. THE CAMPAIGN (Warner Brothers) – NEW (Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic score: 50)
$27,440,000 in 3,205 theaters; PSA: $8,562,000; Cumulative: $27,440,000
The stronger than expected opening numbers for “The Campaign” take some edge off “The Dark Knight Rises” falling to third place this weekend for Warners. Not a low-budget comedy by any means (estimated budget was over $50 million), this gross suggests a chance for success.
Political comedies are a tough sell, even more so when they aren’t backed with strong reviews (“Dave,” “Bulworth,” ” The American President”). This film's kickstart comes from the pairing of Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis as leads together for the first time. Ferrell has been uneven throughout his career (as well as taking regular chances in smaller films, such as the recent “Casa de mi Padre”). This is performing slightly better than his two most recent $100 million-plus domestic grossers (“The Other Guys” and “Step Brothers” – he seems to score a comedy hit only in even-numbered years). For Galifianakis, who was elevated by his “Hangover” film appearances, these numbers are similar to the opening of his other second-lead comedy success, “Due Date.”
The film marks a step up for director Jay Roach from his most recent feature film “Dinner for Schmucks,” which even with Steve Carrell managed a just OK $23.5 million opening two years ago. It will perform below his huge successes with the “Austin Powers” and “Meet the Parents” franchises. Still, it shows how a veteran comedy director can upgrade a seemingly routine comedy pairing.
Ferrell, as well as his frequent past director Adam McKay joined Roach and Galifianakis as the producers of the film.
What comes next: They got the audience sampling they wanted. Now, without a significant new comedy next weekend and less TV competition, good word of mouth could propel this much further. At the least, all involved will stay in great demand.