Box Office: 'TMNT' Stays No. 1; 'Let's Be Cops' Beats 'Expendables 3'

7:54 AM PST 08/17/2014 by Pamela McClintock

The third 'Expendables,' hurt by piracy, comes in almost $10 million less than expected for a franchise low

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy easily stayed atop the North American box office as The Expendables 3 underperformed in its debut, grossing just $16.2 million.

That's by far a franchise worst. The first Expendables debuted to $34.8 million domestically in August 2010, followed by $28.6 million for the sequel in August 2012. Both of those films were rated R, while the threequel is rated PG-13, meaning it should have seen a boost from being more family friendly.

In addition to potential fatigue, a pristine copy of Expendables 3 that leaked on the Internet hurt the movie's box office performance, much like what happened when X-Men Origins: Wolverine was pirated before its release in 2009.

From Lionsgate and Millennium, Expendables 3 was even beat by 20th Century Fox's Let's Be Cops to come in No. 4 domestically. Let's Be Cops, placing No. 3, took in $17.7 million for the weekend for a pleasing five-day debut of $26.1 million (the R-rated comedy opened Wednesday). The weekend's third new player, YA film adaptation The Giver, rounded out the top five with $12.8 million.

Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies' TMNT remained at No. 1 in its second weekend, falling 57 percent to an estimated $28.4 million for a domestic total of $117.6 million. Overseas, the Michael Bay-produced film earned another $25.6 million for an international total of $67.5 million and world haul of $185.1 million.

Disney and Marvel's Guardians, crossing the $200 million mark in its third weekend domestically, followed in North America with an estimated $24.7 million for a cume of $222.3 million through Sunday (that's ahead of fellow summer tentpole The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which grossed $203 million in North America). Better yet, Guardians raced past the $400 million mark at the global box office.

Expendables 3, featuring a multigenerational lineup of action stars, is hoping to make up ground overseas, where it began rolling out this weekend in a number of markets, including Russia, a haven for action films. Numbers weren't immediately available.

The Expendables series is the brainchild of Sylvester Stallone and Avi Lerner, whose Nu Image/Millennium partnered with Lionsgate on the series. The films have generally cost in the $90 million range to produce and have done especially big business overseas. Expendables 2 took in $220.4 million internationally, compared to $85 million in North America.

This time out, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham) and other team members battle villain Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). The sprawling cast includes Harrison Ford, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Randy Couture, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Terry Crews, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz and Robert Davi.

Lionsgate distribution chief Richie Fay said he couldn't comment on the impact of the piracy, but said a number of factors played a role in the movie's diminished opening. He noted the series is playing older, despite the deliberate attempt to make the threequel more appealing to younger audiences. Moviegoers over the age of 25 made up 66 percent of ticket buyers this weekend, compared to 65 percent for Expendables 2 and 60 percent for the first Expendables.

"The good news is the A- CinemaScore. The folks that are getting to see it are really enjoying it. I think we're in a good place as far as the older audience coming out over a period of time," Fay said. 

Buddy action comedy Let's Be Cops, starring Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson, cost Fox a modest $17 million to make. Directed by Luke Greenfield, the comedy follows two friends who pretend to be Los Angeles police officers. Andy Garcia, Nina Dobrev, Rob Riggle, Keegan-Michael Key and James D'Arcy also star in the film, which earned a B CinemaScore.

"Honestly, it shows that people want to go to the movies and laugh," said Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson. Let's Be Cops skewed notably younger, with moviegoers under the age of 25 accounting for 54 percent of all tickets bought. Caucasians made up 50 percent of the audience, followed by African-Americans (20 percent) and Hispanics (17 percent).

Going after younger moviegoers and faith-based audiences was The Giver, directed by Phillip Noyce and based on Lois Lowry's 1993 YA novel of the same name. More than two decades in the making, the $30 million film was co-financed and co-produced by The Weinstein Co. and Walden Media.

The Giver, starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and Brenton Thwaites, came in slightly less than expected after earning a B+ CinemaScore.

Here are the top 10 estimates for the weekend of Aug. 15-17 at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Weekend Total, Percentage Change, Cume

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 2/3,980, Paramount, $28.4 million, -57%, $117.6 million.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy, 3/3,697, Disney/Marvel, $24.7 million, -41%, $222.3 million.

3. Let's Be Cops, 1/3,094, 20th Century Fox, $17.7 million, $26.1 million.

4. The Expendables 3, 1/3,221, Lionsgate/Millennium, $16.2 million.

5. The Giver, 1/3,003, The Weinstein Co./Walden, $12.8 million.

6. Into the Storm, 2/3,434, Warner Bros./New Line, $7.7 million, -55%, $31.3 million.

7. The Hundred-Foot Journey, 2/2,042, Disney/DreamWorks, $7.1 million, -35%, $23.6 million.

8. Lucy, 4/2,520, Universal/EuropaCorp, $5.3 million, -44%, $$107.5 million.

9. Step Up All In, 2/2,072, Lionsgate/Summit, $2.7 million, -58%, $11.8 million.

10. Boyhood, 6/771, IFC Films, $2.2 million, +9%, $13.8 million.

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

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