Stallone durable at box office with ‘Expendables’

LOS ANGELES, Aug 15 (BestGrowthStock) – Sylvester Stallone
outmuscled Julia Roberts at the weekend box office in North
America on Sunday to score the biggest opening of his career
with his new film “The Expendables.”

The action hero’s all-star mercenary thriller earned an
estimated $35 million across the United States and Canada
during its first three days of release, distributor Lionsgate
said.

The opening, which was in line with bullish expectations,
marks a boost not only for Stallone, who directed and co-wrote
the project as well, but also for Lionsgate, whose Lions Gate
Entertainment Corp (LGF.N: ) parent is fending off a hostile
takeover from investor Carl Icahn.

Julia Roberts, whose career has been almost as cold as
Stallone’s in recent years, followed at a distant No. 2 with
“Eat Pray Love.” The big-screen adaptation of a bestselling
memoir of a woman’s international search for herself, opened
with $23.7 million, also in line with expectations.

The female-skewing drama was released by Sony Corp’s
(6758.T: ) (SNE.N: ) Columbia Pictures, which topped the box office
last weekend with “The Other Guys.” The Will Ferrell cop comedy
fell to No. 3 with $18 million, taking its 10-day total to
$70.5 million.

A third newcomer, the comic-book adaptation “Scott Pilgrim
vs. The World,” bombed at No. 5 with $10.5 million. It marks
the second disappointment this month for General Electric Co
(GE.N: )-owned distributor Universal Pictures, following “Charlie
St. Cloud.”

Stallone, 64, was last in theaters with a pair of modest
retreads revisiting his glory days, 2008’s “Rambo” and 2006’s
“Rocky Balboa.” They opened to $18 million and $12 million,
respectively.

His best opening, before accounting for ticket-price
inflation was the $33 million start for the children’s movie
“Spy Kids 3D” in 2003. On an adjusted basis, he did better with
a pair of films in 1985: “Rambo: First Blood Part II” and
“Rocky IV,” with about $45 million each, according to tracking
firm Box Office Mojo.

“The Expendables,” whose multinational lineup includes
English tough guy Jason Statham, Sweden’s Dolph Lundgren and
Chinese martial-arts veteran Jet Li, revolves around a team of
mercenaries who inflict carnage on a fictional South American
dictatorship. Bruce Willis and California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger have cameos. Roberts’ older brother Eric, from
whom the actress was once estranged, plays a villain.

The film was made by independent producer Avi Lerner’s Nu
Image/Millennium for about $85 million. Lionsgate paid $20
million for distribution rights.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Alan Elsner)

Stallone durable at box office with ‘Expendables’