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In the latest box office weekend, “The Expendables 4,” featuring Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham, had a lackluster debut, earning a franchise-low of $8.3 million. It narrowly trailed behind “The Nun II,” which collected $8.4 million in its third weekend. While the final rankings could shift slightly by Monday’s tally, it’s evident that this weekend marked the lowest-grossing box office frame of the year, with no film surpassing the $10 million mark.
Despite these disappointing results, there is a glimmer of optimism for the future of theatrical releases. Studios may soon reach an agreement with striking writers, potentially paving the way for a similar deal with actors’ unions. This would allow A-list stars to promote their upcoming films, potentially boosting box office returns. For instance, “Dumb Money” and Kenneth Branagh’s “A Haunting in Venice” both suffered due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, preventing their star-studded casts from promoting their work.
Prior to its release, “Expendables 4” was anticipated to open at $15 million from 3,400 North American theaters. However, it fell short of expectations. Without positive reviews or word-of-mouth, the opening weekend earnings pale in comparison to its predecessors. The 2014 “Expendables 3” debuted with $15.8 million, the 2012 sequel with $28.5 million, and the 2010 original with $34.8 million.
“The Expendables” franchise has seen a decline in domestic popularity, but it has remained strong internationally, with all three previous installments grossing at least $200 million worldwide. The fourth film had a production cost of $100 million, similar to its predecessors. Directed by Scott Waugh, “The Expendables 4” follows the elite operatives as they try to thwart a terrorist group threatening to ignite a conflict between Russia and the United States.
David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research Critics, comments on the film’s financial outlook, saying, “The movie was not cheap to make. While ancillary income should be strong, it appears the film will have a hard time getting to profitability after marketing and distribution costs.”
Meanwhile, “The Nun II” has been a rare success in September, approaching $70 million at the domestic box office and $204 million globally. The film, produced for $38 million, is set to be profitable for Warner Bros. and New Line.
Other films rounding out the box office charts include “A Haunting in Venice” in third place with $6.3 million, “The Equalizer 3” in fourth place with $4.7 million, and “Barbie” in fifth place with $3.2 million. Neon’s “It Lives Inside” debuted in seventh place with $2.6 million, and Sony’s “Dumb Money” landed in eighth place with $2.4 million.
In the specialty box office, A24’s re-release of the classic Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense” earned $800,637 from 264 Imax screens over the weekend, totaling $1.4 million to date. Over 60% of the audience was born after the original 1984 film release. A24 plans to expand the film’s release nationwide, promising another 40 years of audience enjoyment.