The Expendables was off to a very strong start this weekend with a better than expected $34.83 million. The ensemble action film from Lionsgate starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Stratham and Jet Li was able to easily fend off both Sony's Eat Pray Love and Universal's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World this weekend for first place. Together, the film's combination of action stars proved to be a much bigger draw than the film's stars have been on their own in recent years. Although it skewed fairly heavily towards males, The Expendables benefited from being able to appeal more to female moviegoers than Eat Pray Love appealed to male moviegoers this weekend.
Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, The Expendables represented the highest grossing debut of Stalone's long career. When taking ticket price inflation into account, it represented the fourth largest debut of Stalone's career (behind only 1985's Rambo: First Blood Part II, 1985's Rocky IV and 2003's Spy Kids 3D). The Expendables also represented the second largest debut ever for Lionsgate (behind only last year's Madea Goes to Jail). The Expendables opened just a notch below the respective $38.05 million and $37.35 million debuts of last August's Inglourious Basterds and District 9.
Though it had to settle for second, Eat Pray Love still held its own this weekend with $23.10 million. The Julia Roberts vehicle and adaptation of the popular memoir opened towards the lower end of pre-release expectations. As mentioned and not surprisingly, Eat Pray Love skewed very heavily towards female moviegoers with 72 percent of the film's audience being female. The film also skewed heavily towards older moviegoers with 56 percent of the film's audience being over 35. Eat Pray Love registered the largest debut for a Roberts vehicle since the $30.18 million start of 2001's America's Sweethearts (granted she hasn't had many in the years since then). The film opened 15 percent stronger than last year's Julie & Julia. Whether or not Eat Pray Love can hold up as well as Julie & Julia did remains to be seen.
Opening in a distant fifth place with a disappointing $10.61 million was Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The Edgar Wright directed film starring Michael Cera generated strong online buzz in the days and weeks leading up to its release, but ultimately that buzz failed to transfer into box office grosses this weekend. While that can often be the case for films aimed at teens and younger adults, it was especially apparent for Scott Pilgrim and has now happened for three different films over each of the past three weekends (the previous two being Universal's Charlie St. Cloud and Disney's Step Up 3D). One of the more troubling aspects for Scott Pilgrim this weekend was that in addition to under-performing, the film was still extremely front-loaded towards Friday. With an opening day gross of $4.52 million, Scott Pilgrim generated an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.35 to 1, which isn't a good sign going forward.
Last weekend's top film, Sony's The Other Guys fell two spots to third with $17.41 million. The PG-13 comedy was down 51 percent from last weekend, which was reasonable given the added presence of both The Expendables and Scott Pilgrim in the marketplace. With the initial rush-out for both of those films now out of the way, The Other Guys could hold up better next weekend. The ten-day start for The Other Guys stands at $69.95 million, placing it 11 percent behind the pace of 2008's Step Brothers (which fell 47 percent in its second weekend of release to gross $16.51 million).
Warner's Inception held up nicely given the new direct competition it faced this weekend. The sci-fi blockbuster was down 39 percent from last weekend with a weekend take of $11.29 million. That was good enough for fourth place and was a slightly stronger than expected hold given the momentum it had lost from the previous week in the days heading into the weekend. Inception is now on the verge of reaching the $250 million milestone with a 31-day gross of $248.47 million. Internationally, Inception grossed $35.9 million this weekend. That brings the film's international total to $315.4 million and its worldwide total to a very impressive $563.9 million.
In its ninth weekend of release, Disney's Toy Story 3 finally fell out of the top ten with an eleventh place take of $2.22 million. More importantly, the film was able to top the $400 million mark this weekend, making it just the eleventh film of all-time to reach that milestone (without taking into account ticket price inflation). Toy Story 3 is now also the highest grossing animated film of all-time at the worldwide box office, with a worldwide take of $940.1 million. Toy Story 3 will continue to add to that total, as it remains a factor at the international box office, where it grossed $22.7 million from 49 foreign markets this weekend.