$16.5 mil 'Expendables' No. 1 for 2nd week
Five new films see rare down session, studios not worried
You know it's late-summer clearance time for film distributors when five wide openers fail to topple a holdover movie from its No. 1 roost and no film fetches more than teen millions in weekend boxoffice.
Fox/New Regency's horror spoof "Vampires Suck" sunk its teeth into $12.2 million to nab second place in its first weekend, with $18.6 million in cumulative domestic coin since bowing Wednesday. But Sylvester Stallone's ensemble actioner "The Expendables" from Lionsgate and Nu Image/Millennium again grabbed the brass ring, as a relatively modest 53% drop from its first frame produced a $16.5 million sophomore session and $64.9 million cume.
Also elbowing their way into theaters:
-- Warner Bros./Alcon's urban comedy "The Lottery" cashed in for an acceptable $11.1 million in fourth place.
-- Dimension Films' horror pic "Piranha 3D" floated to a tame $10 million in sixth place, despite premium pricing in almost 2,200 3D locations.
-- Universal/Working Title's family sequel "Nanny McPhee Returns" adopted seventh place with a disappointing $8.3 million.
-- Miramax's romantic comedy "The Switch," starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman, baited just $8.1 million in eighth place.
All of the market debutants were modestly budgeted, so their stuttering starts won't be a big problem and the better-performing new pics should turn a profit.
Rated PG-13, "Vampires" was written and directed by the team behind 2008's tunic comedy "Meet the Spartans." Opening day audiences were comprised 55% of females, with 72% of patrons under age 21.
"We are happy, happy, happy," Fox senior vp Bert Livingston said. "The five-day number includes a great opening-day number of $4 million from Wednesday. So that took something away from the weekend, but the weekend was still terrific."
Fox distributed for spoofs veteran New Regency, which produced "Vampires" for under $18 million.
Also rated PG-13, "Lottery" features an ensemble cast including Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Loretta Devine, Terry Crews -- pulling a weekend double-shift after "Expendables" labors -- and Ice Cube, who exec produced.
"Lottery" drew audiences comprised 51% of females, with 57% of patrons aged 25 or older and African-American support representing a whopping 88% of opening boxoffice.
"We did just fine and had the best screen average for any picture in wide release," Warners exec vp distribution Jeff Goldstein said. "The picture had a very targeted audience."
Alcon produced "Lottery" for an estimated $17 million, with Warners simply distributing.
Dimension topper Bob Weinstein was disappointed when Comic-Con refused to screen R-rated "Piranha" last month, citing excessive gore. But he offered an upbeat assessment of the pic's bow.
"We're really happy with the incredible audience response," Weinstein said. "We got some very positive reviews and are going to continue to support the movie."
Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Elizabeth Shue, Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd, "Piranha" -- produced for an estimated $24 million -- attracted opening audiences skewing 57% male, with 58% of patrons aged 25 or older. Some 95% of the pic's opening grosses came from 3D auditoriums.
The soft start for PG-rated "Nanny McPhee Returns" -- with Emma Thompson reprising her title role and co-stars including Maggie Gyllenhaal -- compares with a $14.5 million debut for 2006's original "Nanny McPhee," which rung up $47.1 million overall domestically. The sequel has registered $62.9 million internationally since bowing abroad in March.
"It came in lower than my expectations," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said. "But with such a modest production budget, it's a success globally."
"Nanny McPhee Returns" was produced for an estimated $35 million, after accounting for tax credits. Parents with children aged 13 or younger contributed 68% of its opening coin, with girls comprising 73% of the kids' contingent.
"The Switch" represents the first Miramax pic to bow since Disney agreed to sell the specialty unit, whose new owners will cover prints and advertising costs on the release once the transaction with Disney closes later this year.
Mandate sold off various territorial rights after producing "The Switch" for roughly $16 million. Disney and Maple Releasing will get unspecified distribution fees for handling the pic for Miramax in the U.S. and Canada, respectively.
Rated PG-13, "The Switch" skewed 65% female, with 72% of patrons aged 25 or older. Couples represented 84% of pic support.
"It performed right as expected," Disney distribution president Chuck Viane said.
Also this weekend, Sony's Julia Roberts starrer "Eat Pray Love" fell just 48% from its week-earlier opening tally to woo $12 million in third place and push pic cume to $47.1 million. Universal's comics-based "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" dropped 53% to $5 million in tenth place with a 10-day cume of $20.7 million.
The artfilm market marked a solid session, including a limited bow by ATO/Samuel Goldwyn's "Mao's Last Dancer," which waltzed to $192,200 from 31 playdates in 10 markets. That represented a nimble $6,200 per engagement for the biopic about international ballet star and one-time Chinese defector Li Cunxin.
Oscilloscope produced Holocaust documentary "A Film Unfinished" in two locations in New York and two in L.A. to gross $3,750 million, or an auspicious $9,375 per site. Cume reached $51,200 including an extra two days of performances at the New York venues.
IFC Films opened German-language comedy "Soul Kitchen" in two New York theaters to cook up $20,120, or a tasty $10,060 per venue.
And Sony Pictures Classics expanded crime drama "Animal Kingdom" by 15 engagements for a total 19 to fetch $95,036, or a healthy $5,002 per playdate.
Overall, the weekend represented a recently rare down session. The frame's 10 top-grossing movies rang up $101.5 million, or 7% less than top performers in a comparable weekend last year, Rentrak said
Looking ahead, three wide openers are set for the penultimate session of the summer boxoffice season. New pics set to unspool on Friday include Lionsgate's horror pic "The Last Exorcism" and Sony's crime thriller "Takers," while Fox will re-release winter blockbuster "Avatar" in 800-plus 3D and Imax venues.
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