WINNER OF THE WEEK: Old age. The Expendables 2, now with even more AARP-eligible action stars than the first installment, beat a slew of young whippersnappers to grab the box office crown with a weekend take of $28.8 million, according to studio estimates. That’s less than the $34.8 million debut of the original two Augusts ago but still pretty spry for the dog days of summer. Last week’s champ, The Bourne Legacy, also proved to have strong legs for an action franchise on its fourth go-round. Jeremy Renner, finally an action hero at 41, saw his spy tale gross an estimated $17.0 million, good for second place, with a loss in business of 55 percent from last week. That’s typical for the genre, though the movie that held up the best, week-to-week, was Hope Springs, with just a 38 percent drop its second week. The romantic dramedy, whose youngest star is 50-year-old Steve Carell, pulled in an estimated $9.1 million to finish at Number Eight.
LOSER OF THE WEEK: Youth. 3D animated kiddie horror comedy ParaNorman had to settle for a third place premiere with an estimated $14.0 million. You’d think a movie like that would do better in October, but it picked a week with intense competition for the family audience. Sparkle, sold on the basis of movie newbie and American Idol fave Jordin Sparks’ youth appeal (since Whitney Houston wasn’t around to sell it to her peers), had been expected to do as well as $18 million, but it opened in fifth place with an estimated $12.0 million. Disney’s fable The Odd Life of Timothy Green debuted all the way down at Number Seven with an estimated $10.9 million. Given that Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and even Brave are still attracting kids, it seemed the wrong week to introduce a new movie in the family marketplace, let alone three of them.
CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC: Sure, it sucks to be humiliated in front of the whole world by your girlfriend’s affair with a married man, but Robert Pattinson couldn’t have picked a better time to have Kristen Stewart cheat on him. His week-long ice-cream-and-sympathy tour of the nation’s media outlets yielded a publicity windfall for Cosmopolis, an art-house movie about a tycoon in a limo riding a few blocks across Manhattan to get a haircut, a film based on a highbrow Don DeLillo novel and adapted by a director (David Cronenberg) with a notoriously chilly outlook – in other words, a picture that ought to scare off most of Pattinson’s teen Twi-hard fanbase. Instead, the movie opened with a per-screen average estimated at $24,100, far and away the best among films currently in theaters. (Expendables 2, for instance, opened with an $8,700 per-screen average.) Granted, Cosmopolis premiered on just three screens, but an average that big suggests a strong want-to-see factor as Cosmopolis gradually opens across North America in the weeks to come. So Pattinson’s public moping seems to have paid off.