With a 46% drop from the previous weekend, The Inbetweeners 2 comfortably retains the top spot, ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy and newcomer The Expendables 3. The number compares with a 34% drop for the second weekend of play for the original Inbetweeners Movie, in 2011. That film went on to experience successive drops of 35%, 42% and 43%. It’s a little early to say what The Inbetweeners 2’s future trajectory will be, and it should accrue some benefit by arriving a week earlier in the year than its predecessor, giving it one more week of play during the school-holiday period.
Distributor Entertainment Films will be looking less at the weekend amount (£4.31m) and more at the total earned for the full seven-day period: £9.83m. That takes the tally after 12 days to a hefty £22.37m. At the same stage of its run, The Inbetweeners Movie stood at £25.86m, so the sequel is now trailing by 14%.
The new arrival
When the makers of Taken 2 secured a 12A certificate for the film here in the UK (PG-13 in the US), a huge box-office bonanza accrued. The original (18 certificate) Taken grossed £6.39m over the course of its life; the less-bloody sequel earned £23.52m – more than triple its predecessor. That disparity was presumably behind the decision to banish blood and limit curse words in The Expendables 3, securing a 12A here and PG-13 in the US. (The first two Expendables films were rated 15 for theatrical release.)
But if the strategy was to broaden the audience, results suggest that it hasn’t worked. The Expendables 3 opened with £1.69m, including previews of £379,000. This compares with a debut of £1.99m including previews of £435,000 for The Expendables 2. The original The Expendables began with an impressive £3.93m including previews of £1.80m, back in 2010.
Backers Lionsgate will be mulling two theories. The first is that the Expendables audience are fans of old-school Rambo-style action, and want to see visceral violence up on the screen. Don’t mess with a winning formula. Despite the addition of younger cast members this time around, the film presumably isn’t reaching the intended new audience of nostalgic dads with sons aged early teens and pre-teens. The second possibility is that the pirated leak of the film, downloaded by an estimated 2.2 million people, really did negatively impact the box office.
A third possibility, one that Lionsgate won’t wish to countenance, is that audiences are simply no longer particularly anticipating fresh Expendables adventures, and that the expiration date on the characters has now been reached. The Expendables 2 earned $85m (£51m) in the US and a hefty $220m (£132m) in foreign territories, scoring particularly big in China, Russia and Brazil. Decisions about a fourth film, or a Young Expendables spinoff, will depend on how the current one fares in these growing markets.