While three new studio releases started off shockingly slow, the strongest showing was "2016: Obama's America," an anti-Obama polemic that-- on just over 1,000 screens-- rose to eighth place after several weeks of more limited play.
Overall business was typical of the summer dog days. The top ten films grossed around $73 million, $3 million better than last year. The last weekend of August is usually deadly as the studios hold back from releasing top product and the summer hits are on their last legs.
What is shocking is the low placement of the new films, which so far are placing 7th, 10th and 12th (Warner Bros.' dumped "The Apparition" in less than 1,000 theaters). This weekend last year, three of the top five places were taken by fresh films. But the relatively good holdovers for several other higher-ranking performers compensated for these.
1. The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate) - Week 2; Last weekend #1
$13,500,000 (-53%) in 3,355 theaters (+39); PSA (per screen average): $4,024; Cumulative: $52,314,000
Retaining the #1 spot after falling 53% from a somewhat disappointing opening is both unusual and reveals the weak playing field. The fall is similar to the original's (-51% off of a $6-million higher opening weekend), which is about par for an action seque.
What comes next: Millennium Productions will need fabulous foreign results to justify another entry in the franchise. (There's talk of an all-femme edition.)
2. The Bourne Legacy (Universal) - Week 3; Last weekend #2
$9,300,000 (-45%) in 3,654 theaters (-99); PSA: $2,522; Cumulative: $85,500,000
Not a bad hold for the third weekend for this series reboot. But the Jeremy Renner "Bourne" still lags behind Matt Damon's last "Ultimatum" three years ago, which fell less than 40% its third weekend with a $164-million total. Still, snagging the #2 spot (for the moment) counts as a positive for Universal.
What comes next: International, rolling out gradually with many territories still to open, will determine the ongoing fate of this Bourne revamp. The domestic returns (Universal splits the gross with exhibitors) will fall short of the reported $125 million production budget.
3. ParaNorman (Focus) - Week 2; Last weekend #3
$8,546,000 (-39%) in 3,455 theaters (+26); PSA: $2474; Cumulative: $28,274,000
Hanging on to the #3 spot for the second weekend bodes well, with a 39% fall (family films tend to hold better) compares to the 12% drop of Laika Studio's first animated feature "Coraline" (also distributed by Focus), which had a holiday weekend boost. "Coraline" was at $35 million after 10 days, so this is 80% of that.
What comes next: With the summer grinding to a halt (many schools already open), this will have to count on hanging on as a prime family film for the next few weekends to get to $50 million, which would be 2/3s of what "Coraline" grossed.
4. The Campaign (Warner Brothers) - Week 2; Last weekend #5
$7,440,000 (- 43%) in 3,302 theaters (+47); PSA: $2253; Cumulative: $64,543,000
Not a bad falloff for the third weekend of this comedy, which looks like a mid-range success for Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Again though, maintaining position for the weekend is more a factor of the weak new openings than an impressive achievement for this film.
What comes next: Most of these actors' mainstream comedies have hit $100 million or more, so by that standard, this will come in a bit short. Still, this has performed at or above industry expectations, with the late summer release date being a factor in somewhat lower grosses.
5. The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros) - Week 6; Last weekend #7
$7,150,000 (-35%) in 2,606 theaters (-551); PSA: $2744; Cumulative: $422,188,000
A modest drop, even though it lost hundreds of theaters. This still has a shot at as many weeks in the top 10 (10) as "The Dark Knight" (which however was #3 in its sixth week).
What comes next: Though the domestic take, great as it is, will fall short of "The Dark Knight," passing the $1 billion mark and moving ahead of the previous entry remains possible.