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Box office report: 'Expendables 2' pummels puny newcomers with $13.5 million; Anti-Obama doc '2016' breaks out

You know you’ve reached the summer box office doldrums when not a single new wide release is able to break $7 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period.

Such was the case this weekend, when the top 12 movies grossed a cumulative $83.4 million, which makes this the least attended frame at the box office since December 9-11, 2011, when the top 12 films earned just $67.8 million.

Once again, The Expendables 2 led the chart, dropping 53 percent from its opening frame to $13.5 million — the lowest total for a No. 1 movie since that aforementioned December frame when New Year’s Eve topped the chart with a sad $13.0 million.

After ten days, The Expendables 2, which carries a reported $100 million budget, has grossed $52.3 million and is running well behind the total of the original Expendables, which had grossed $65.4 million at the same point in its run. The Lionsgate action entry may finish with just under $80 million.

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Box office update: '2016: Obama's America' tops newcomers on Friday, 'Expendables 2' headed to weekend win

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With the exception of one ultra-buzzy political documentary, this weekend at the box office is shaping up to be an unremarkable one.

The Expendables 2 maintained the top spot on Friday, shooting up $3.9 million worth of tickets, which should lead to a $12 million weekend — a 58 percent decline from last week, when it topped the chart. By Sunday, the action film will have about $51 million total. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Expendables 2' to outpace 'Premium Rush' on low-gear weekend

The dog days of the summer box office are upon us.

Late August is the time of the year when studios traditionally dump projects that have been shelved, moved, and deemed either misguided or unmarketable. You know, the perceived stinkers.

The same is true this year. This weekend brings three new films — bike thriller Premium Rush, comedy Hit and Run, and horror title The Apparition — none of which seem headed to impressive grosses. There’s also an indie film headed into a wide expansion, the political documentary 2016: Obama’s America, which has a pretty good shot at beating all of them.

Here’s how the box office may shake out:

1. The Expendables 2 – $12 million
The meager slate of newcomers should give The Expendables a clear shot at topping the chart for a second weekend in a row following its $28.6 million bow. The action film may fall hard by 55-60 percent, but without any serious competition, it should be able to retain the box office crown with about $12 million.  READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Expendables 2' shoots to the top with $28.8 million, but newcomers don't 'Sparkle'

Four weeks after the shootings in Aurora, Colo., the box office remains in a relative slump — despite performing over 20 percent better than the same weekends in 2011 and 2010.

According to industry consulting firm Screen Engine, 17 percent of moviegoers are still reluctant to head to the theater following the shooting. While that number has dropped from the 21 percent who claimed they were reluctant one week after the shooting, it’s still telling — and discouraging — for Hollywood. Fortunately, moviegoers have a lot of options to choose from. When the top seven movies at the box office all earn over $10 million, it’s clear that the box office isn’t in totally dire straits, but it doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders.

Sylvester Stallone and his weathered crew of grizzly action stars (and fresh-faced Liam Hemsworth) pushed their explosive sequel The Expendables 2 to a $28.8 million debut, 17 percent lower than the $34.8 million bow of 2010’s original Expendables. The number one debut marks the first time pop culture icon Chuck Norris has ever topped the box office. There really is nothing he can’t do.

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Box office update: 'Expendables 2' blasts off with $10.5M Friday; 'Dark Knight Rises' passes $400M

Welcome back, boys.

Sylvester Stallone and his motley crew of The Expendables 2 co-stars handily blazed to the top of the box office on Friday, shooting up $10.5 million, which should yield a final weekend gross in the $27 million range.

While the grizzled action heroes will nab the number one spot on the chart this weekend, Expendables 2 is already proving weaker — despite more muscle — than its 2010 predecessor, which grossed $13.3 million on its opening day (21% higher than Expendables 2) on the way to a $34.3 million weekend.

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Box office preview: 'Expendables 2' gunning for top spot against 'Sparkle', 'Timothy Green', 'ParaNorman'

Two years ago, Sylvester Stallone assembled a leathery crew of aging musclebound action stars for The Expendables, and the $80 million in-your-face action film went on to be a hit, grossing $103.1 million domestically and an explosive $274.5 million worldwide.

For these actors, a sequel wasn’t just an enticing prospect, it was an inevitable one.

Thus, we now have The Expendables 2, which is facing off this weekend against three titles more geared toward families: Paranorman, Sparkle, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green. How will these four titles fare at the box office?

Read on for my weekend box office predictions:

1. The Expendables 2 – $38 million
All the guys are back for Expendables 2 — Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, and Ah-nold — but there are a few fresh faces, too. Namely, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and token “let’s bring in the young crowd” actor Liam Hemsworth.

The kitsch factor of seeing all these grizzled action stars in one place is still the franchise’s selling point, and according to BoxOffice.com’s Shawn Robbins, social media activity for the sequel has been substantially stronger than its predecessor, which opened with $34.8 million in August 2010. Adult men will make up the vast majority of the audience and likely drive Expendables 2, which is playing in 3,316 theaters, to about $38 million in its first frame. Lionsgate reportedly acquired the $90 million film from Nu Image for $35 million.

2. Sparkle – $18 million
Though Jordin Sparks is making her acting debut, it is Whitney Houston’s final onscreen performance that will lure in curious moviegoers to see ScreenGems’ 1960s musical family drama Sparkle this weekend. The film, which cost a slim $14 million to make, is getting a narrow release in 2,244 theaters — a common tactic for a movie targeting a predominantly African-American audience (Think Like A Man, another ScreenGems film, started on 2,052 theaters earlier this year) — which should yield a strong per-theater average.

Although tracking and studio expectations have the film earning about $14-15 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period, as Tyler Perry’s titles have proved, movies geared towards an African-American female audience have often been underestimated by industry watchers; Sparkle could be bigger than most expect. I’m going with a rather bullish (feel free to chide me if I’m wrong on Sunday!) $18 million.

3. The Bourne Legacy – $17 million
Last week’s chart topper is facing direct competition from The Expendables 2, plus a lukewarm “B” CinemaScore grade. It may tumble 55 percent to $17 million, which would lift its ten-day total to about $70 million.

4. ParaNorman – $15 million
Focus Features scored with 2009’s Coraline, the dark 3-D animation that quietly earned $75.3 million during its domestic run. The same filmmaking team came together for ParaNorman, another ghoulish take on typically sunny animated fare. ParaNorman won’t have the benefit of the 3-D craze, which really sparked in 2009, on its side the way Coraline did, but it will still earn some cash due to a big 3,429 theater count. Families are spread thin between Odd Life and Sparkle, but ParaNorman, which likely cost somewhere in the $60 million range (the reported budget of Coraline) may scare up $15 million.

5. The Odd Life of Timothy Green – $14 million
The Disney feature, which stars Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton and was made for just under $25 million, looked like it would become a typical August misfire a few weeks ago, but a hard marketing push has raised awareness for the whimsical tale considerable, and its prospects seem much rosier.

In its Wednesday debut, the film earned $2.3 million, the same number that Hope Springs started with on Wednesday last week before pulling $14.6 million over the weekend. Hope Springs carried a much older audience that waited until the weekend to hit the theater, which resulted in the big boost, but Odd Life may be a bit smaller. Still, thanks to strong word-of-mouth from its “A-” CinemaScore grade, Timothy Green, playing in 2,598 theaters, may blossom to $14 million.

Check EW all weekend long to see how The Expendables 2, Sparkle, ParaNorman, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green fare, and if you want up-to-the-minute box office updates, follow me on Twitter.

New spooky 'ParaNorman' trailer: 'The witch's curse is real!'

The latest trailer for LAIKA stop-motion animated 3D adventure ParaNorman is out, and it’s got a creepier edge than the earlier trailers, which were much lighter. The Focus Features movie about little Don King-haired 11-year-old Norman Babcock — a boy who sees dead people and battles zombies — opens wide this Friday.

“The witch’s curse is real! And you’re the one who has to stop it!” shouts Norman’s Uncle Prenderghast, voiced by John Goodman.

“Me? No, you must have it wrong,” meekly replies Norman, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In and The Road). Scariness ensues.

Sam Fell (The Tale of Despereaux) and Chris Butler directed the movie. Butler also penned it.

Check out the trailer below: READ FULL STORY

'ParaNorman' star Kodi Smit-McPhee on the scariest part of playing the role -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

As the title hero of the stop-motion animated film ParaNorman (out Aug. 17), Kodi Smit-McPhee gives voice to an 11-year-old kid who is capable of seeing, and speaking, to the dead. It’s certainly familiar territory for the young Australian actor, best known for the bleak post-apocalyptic film The Road and the grim vampire tale Let Me In. “Actually, my favorite genre is comedy,” he says with a laugh. “It’s pretty ironic and funny that I always get these kind of dramatic, sad, kind of low-down movies that are really intense, I guess. But I don’t mind. I think it’s good to get those types of movies, ’cause they’re the ones that stick with you.”

As you can see in the exclusive photo from ParaNorman below, the character of Norman Babcock has to deal with some very spooky business. Smit-McPhee says never really got that scared himself doing the role, but acting the non-verbal noises that come with being chased by petrifying zombies was definitely a challenge. “An example would be when [Norman's] on the toilet and it starts to shake, I would have to actually sit in the chair and shake myself,” he says. “That’s probably the hardest part, just all those weird noises. We went from like little [heavy breathing] pants, and worked our way up even bigger, bigger, bigger, to terrified stuff. It was actually pretty draining.”

Check out this first look from the film to get a sense of what’s causing Smit-McPhee’s Norman all this consternation (click on the image for a larger version):  READ FULL STORY

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