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Weekend Box Office: Turtles, Guardians Hold Strong, Expendables 3 is Downright Geriatric

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By Chris Kavan - 08/17/14 at 09:19 PM CT

t was a weekend full of hopes and promises - and plenty of broken dreams. While one film managed to beat expectations - it was the previous weeks' entries that helped fuel another August win. With the top 12 films earning a total of $128.8, the week was up 6% compared to last year and the month is still heading for the record books. But it was the failures over the weekend that are going to be the bigger story, as a franchise fell flat and another tween lit adaptation hit the skids. Hopefully it's not a sign of things to come.


The Turtle Power was still in effect this weekend as the four heroes in a half shell took in $28.4 million. The drop was about 57% - actually not too bad considering how many blockbusters this year have taken a 60% (or greater) dip in their second week. It's also a better hold given the mixed word-of-mouth. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles now stands at $117.6 million - fast approaching its $125 million budget. It should easily reach that mark by next weekend - as well as shooting past G.I. Joe: Retaliation ($122.5 million) for comparison. It's still on a good pace and that $175 million total seems like it is well within reach.


The summer's biggest movie marked a major milestone over the weekend. Guardians of the Galaxy took in $24.7 million (down 41%) and shot passed the $200 million mark for a grand total of $222.28 million (that's a lot of 2s for you!). That was enough to propel it over the total for Thor: The Dark World ($206.36 million) and with a full head of steam still going, it's looking like Guardians will also eclipse Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($260 million) - and wind up around the $280 million mark. That would also make it the top-grossing film of 2014. And the Marvel gravy train continues to roll...


This is probably not the film you were expecting to be the top-grossing out of the new releases, but thanks to some savvy marketing (and lack of comedic options right now) - the comedy opened with $17.7 for the weekend and with early showings added in, has a total of $26.1 million in the bank. While it wasn't a match for comedies We're the Millers of Tropic Thunder (both which opened north of $36 million) for an August comedy, it's doing surprisingly well. It easily topped August releases The Change-Up and 30 Minutes or Less - which opened to between $13 and $14 million. But even better, with little star power to drive it - it topped more recent star-driven hits like A Million Ways to Die in the West, Sex Tape and Blended - just going to show that just because you bank on a big star, if your plot is weak, so are the returns. Let's Be Cops had an audience that was mostly male (56%) and younger (54% under 25) and the awarded it a so-so "B" Cinemascore. It probably can't bank on too much word-of-mouth, so a total just north of $50 million is to be expected. Given the budget of $17 million - the return is going to be pretty good on this one.


With Let's Be Cops opening strong than expected, the opposite was true for Sylvester Stallone and his band of merry AARP action heroes. Expendables 3 opened to just $16.2 million - a whopping 43% compared to opening for Expendables 2. For a closely-timed sequel, that represents one of the worst on record (though last week's Step Up All In was down 45% itself - though dance and action films are two completely different breeds). While you can factor in many things: franchise fatigue, the PG-13 rating, trying to throw too many actors into the mix - one factor everyone is trying to decide on is piracy. The full movie was leaked online and viewed an estimated 2 million times - and one has to think that this time (unlike with The Wolverine) it actually had an impact on the numbers. But it's something that is hard to determine exactly what impact it had. Still, the main thing you can't argue is that Expendables 3 was a huge disappointment - though audiences (61% male and 66% over 25 - looks like the PG-13 didn't draw in a younger crowd) gave it a decent "A-" Cinemascore. Even if word gets out - a total less than $40 million is the most likely outcome.


Poster for The Giver Once again, the young adult curse strikes again. Though The Giver was never made out to be a major movie, the $12.76 million it made clearly puts it in the same league as Mortal Instruments, The Host and Beautiful Creatures - that is, on the downward end. Once again, the rule of thumb is that just because you have a popular book and built-in fanbase, it does not mean you are going to have a big impact on the box office. The year still has one more question mark in The Maze Runner (coming in the dead zone movie days of September - the 19th to be exact), and we all know that The Hunger Games is going to hit another home run - but the fact of the matter is that young-adult fare is mostly miss than hit and that studios really need to be careful about the stories they choose to adapt. I doubt it means this genre is played out - there are just too many interesting books out there to ignore - but success is hard to come by, that's for sure.

The weekend may have been a pretty big letdown overall, but August is still on the right track. Next week the big draw looks to be Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (another long-gestating sequel). There is also the inspirational When the Game Stands Tall as well as the weepy-looking If I Stay. Hopefully we have another hit on our hands to keep the good grosses coming.


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