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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 08/16/2010

Weekend box office: 'Expendables' rules, but 'Eat Pray Love' isn't far behind

By Jen Chaney

"The Expendables," breaking out the big guns. (Lionsgate)

In the battle of classic machismo versus New Age feminism, apparently the old guys won.

"The Expendables" became the No. 1 movie in America, "Eat Pray Love" came in second, a well-reviewed comic book movie got a so-so reception and women proved what a valuable commodity they are when it comes to movie ticket sales. The details on that and more in today's weekend box office breakdown.

Sylvester Stallone and his crew of action movie veterans propelled "The Expendables" into first place with a total of $32.5 million. That gross marks the highest debut of Stallone's career -- although, as Box Office Mojo points out, that's only in terms of unadjusted-for-inflation revenue, not in terms of total ticket sales. Still, Sly -- and Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham and every other big-biceped guy in the film -- have to be feeling pretty good right now. Feeling less good, perhaps? The dudes who reportedly turned down Stallone's overtures (Jean Claude Van-Damme, Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris) to join "The Expendables" crew.

By the way, for those who assumed men made up 99.9 percent of the audience for "The Expendables," think again. According to the Associated Press, 39 percent of the audience for the explosion-and-gunplay fest consisted of women. Not as many as one might expect at, say, the latest Julia Roberts rom-com. But a significant number.

And speaking of the latest Julia Roberts rom-com...

"Eat Pray Love" had a decent but not extraordinary opening weekend, earning an estimated $23.7 million. That's hardly a record number for Roberts, but it does mark the strongest debut weekend she has had since "America's Sweethearts." (Remember that movie? That's okay, almost nobody does.)

The audience for the adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's post-divorce journey of self-discovery was, not surprisingly, 72 percent female. Which gets to my point about how important women are to movie ticket sales. Will they turn out en masse for a female-centric story like this one? Yes. Will they also go see a rock 'em, sock 'em affair like "Expendables"? Based on the aforementioned 39 percent of "The Expendables" audience, yes. So even though the male-dominated flick came in first this weekend, the data behind those results suggests that Hollywood needs to pay closer attention to what women -- who may be more open-minded to a variety of genres -- want.

The Sex Bob-omb sadly fizzled for "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," the offbeat rom-com based on the comic and starring Michael Cera. It debuted in fifth place with $10.5 million, despite largely positive reviews from critics and exceedingly positive buzz coming out of Comic-Con. (In keeping with my previous theme, I'll just note that 64 percent of the "Pilgrim" audience was male.) We'll see if good word-of-mouth can bring an uptick, or at least allow the movie's performance to hold steady, next weekend.

"Toy Story 3" dropped out of the top 10 for the first time after an impressive nine weeks on the list. But don't feel sorry for Woody and Buzz; the third film in the franchise has also become the top-grossing animated feature of all time in terms of global box office, thanks to overall revenues of $940 million. Domestically, it just crossed the $400 million mark, which puts it in second place for animated releases behind "Shrek 2," which earned $441.2 million in North America.

Several new releases will attempt to knock "Expendables" off its pedestal next weekend. But does "Lottery Ticket," "The Switch" or "Piranha 3D" have a shot at outgunning Stallone and co.? Make a prediction by voting in our highly scientific poll.

By Jen Chaney  | August 16, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  | Tags:  Box Office  
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Comments

I saw the Expendables this weekend and it was pretty much exactly what you would expect a Stallone-produced, Stallone-written, movie starring Stallone and a host of other action stars / wrestlers / fighters. Lots of explosions, lots of blood, lots of stunts, lots of fun. It's a popcorn flick and deserves top place for a weekend or so. I was one of the 39%! Woot!

Next weekend I'll go for Scott Pilgrim.

Posted by: DCCubefarm | August 16, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

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