On another sleepy autumn weekend at the box office when actors can’t promote their movies due to the strikes, Millennium Media and Lionsgate are rolling out the latest in their long-in-the-tooth Sylvester Stallone-Jason Statham franchise, Expendables 4, to a weekend take between $15 million-$17 million.
That range is right around where 2014’s Expendables 3 opened –$15.8M– and not far from where Stallone’s last Rambo film resided pre-pandemic, 2019’s Rambo: Last Blood, which bowed to $18.8M. Expendables 3 ended its stateside run at $39.3M while Rambo: Last Blood finaled at $44.8M.
Guys over 25 are the grab with the fourth movie about over-the-hill action heroes booked in 3,400 theaters. The R-rated movie is also playing at 700 PLF screens including XD, RPX, Dolby and D BOX. Previews start at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Similar to other Lionsgate pics with Millennium, the former is handling North America and UK. Again, all these meat-and-potatoes guy action films are built to profit despite the fact that we might see blasé box office numbers. Lionsgate only spends so much on P&A to ensure there’s a pop in the home window; if that wasn’t the case, it wouldn’t be making these movies. Read, we haven’t seen a sequel to the Gerard Butler $140M-budgeted bomb Gods of Egypt, which made $31M domestic and $150.6M worldwide.
Expendables 4 has a reported $100M production cost and the big play for Millennium is global, with the third movie grossing $214.6M, the second movie in 2012 earning $314.9M, and the original 2010 feature making $171.4M. Expendables 4 opened to $11M in China this past weekend; the territory is a robust one for the franchise, with the third pic amassing close to $73M alone there (unadjusted for foreign currency swings, etc).
Expendables 4 sees the return of the elite mercenaries played by Statham, Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture, with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran and Andy Garcia joining in. Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. The new team members are bringing their new styles and tactics, giving “new blood” a whole new meaning. That’s the blurb. Scott Waugh, who directed Need for Speed and Act of Valor, takes over the directing reins. Each of the Expendables movie have had a different director: in order they were Stallone, Simon West and Patrick Hughes.
With last weekend being the second-lowest of 2023 to date at $62.8M, don’t expect this weekend to do any better. The reasons for the lackluster results include the strikes’ impact on actors unable to promote their films, which has led to less wattage on theatrical releases, and also certain films departing the fall and winter schedule; i.e., the Zendaya movie Challengers, which was originally scheduled to open last Friday, was pushed to the end of April. In addition, it’s autumn at the box office, which can be notoriously slow.
Look for ticket sales to pick up next weekend when there’s the trio of Lionsgate’s Saw X, New Regency/20th Century Studios’ The Creator and Paramount/Spinmaster’s Paw Patrol: The Might Movie, which combined can do about $50M alone in business before counting cash from holdovers. Some are already dubbing the weekend “Saw Patrol.”