The muscles may still be pumped, but old-school action heroes aren’t aging well at the box office.
The crew of The Expendables 3, the third film in the Sylvester Stallone blow-everything-up franchise, couldn’t muster an explosive opening weekend, bowing to two reigning hits and a fellow newcomer.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a second consecutive win at the box office with $28.4 million, according to studio estimates from ticket sales firm Rentrak.
The heroes in a half shell rolled past the $100 million mark while also holding off strong competition from Guardians of the Galaxy‘s $24.7 million. Marvel Studios’ superhero space opera currently stands at No. 6 on 2014’s overall box-office chart with $222 million.
Ninja Turtles is one of the rare films this summer to hold on to No. 1 for two weeks in a row because of its family appeal, says Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “This is filling a nice void there and offering up something fun, over the top and action packed.”
The buddy comedy Let’s Be Cops, whose humor didn’t arrest critics, debuted in third place with $17.7 million for the weekend, meeting expectations. It has totaled $26.1 million since opening Wednesday, even with an 11% “Rotten” rating on the aggregate review site RottenTomatoes.com.
Expendables 3 racked up $16.2 million for fourth place, the franchise’s worst opening yet even with a PG-13 rating rather than an R. The first movie had an opening salvo of $34.8 million in 2010, and the 2012 sequel debuted with $28.6 million.
The novelty of the all-star ensemble cast helped the original Expendables, but even though audiences usually flock to sequels, Dergarabedian says, “there is always that potential that if you get to a No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, then audiences start going, ‘Well, we’ve seen this before.’ “
However, he adds, “these movies do well overseas and on home video. so there’s a long life for these action movies beyond the theatrical.”
The Jeff Bridges drama The Giver, based on Lois Lowry’s popular young-adult novel, rounded out the top five with a $12.8 million debut.
While the summer of 2014 thus far has struggled to meet last year’s record-breaking season — it’s down 15% to date, according to Dergarabedian — August is up 14% from 2013, thanks to the one-two punch of Turtles and Guardians.
Final figures are due Monday.