Falling short of its precursor, but still strong enough to win a very competitive box office weekend, The Expendables 2 outshot the competition, scoring $28.6 million in its opening weekend.   Although again a co-author on the screenplay, Expendables mastermind Sylvester Stallone gave the director’s chair over to Simon West and critics, including our own Joey Magidson, surprisingly embraced the film, which was only screened to critics overseas, in New York, and Los Angeles prior to its release.  Coming as no surprise, Expendables 2 drew a sizable Male-25+ contingent of viewers and opening night CinemaScore ratings saw the film come in with a healthy A-.    In 2010, the first Expendables blew away the mockery and condescending expectations which preceded that film’s release and grossed $274.4 million worldwide.

The Bourne Legacy took an expected hit with The Expendables 2 arrival, but sliding into 2nd place, when three other films had wide releases is nonetheless something of a success for Universal.   While the numbers may be quite underwhelming in North America, Legacy is well on its way to earning back its $125 million production budget worldwide, as audiences abroad seem more receptive to this incarnation of the franchise.

ParaNorman beat out Sparkle and The Odd Life of Timothy Green in the rest of the wide release, multiplex-targeted films.  ParaNorman netted $14.1 million, less than Coraline in 2009 ($16.1 million) and a bit of a headscratcher reportedly for those who worked extremely hard on marketing the film at Focus Features.  ParaNorman may be one of the year’s most anticipated animated releases, and one of its finest, but Disney seemed smart in counterprogramming one youth-oriented film with another, dropping Odd Life in theaters two days ahead of ParaNorman.

Odd Life did not get a big jumpstart on the competition, landing in 7th place for the weekend with $10.8 million counted and $15.1 million for its 5 day open.  It will be interesting to see how ParaNorman and Odd Life score in their second weekends as the next family film to challenge them will not arrive until August 31.  That film, the unsettling and downright confounding Oogieloves In The Big Balloon Adventure is an absolute wildcard; the feature length debut from the mastermind behind bringing Teletubbies to the United States, Kenn Viselman.

Sparkle was dim with an $11.6 million start in 5th place.  TriStar expected more, but with a $14 million budget, I am sure they will be just fine.

Elsewhere, Total Recall is another stateside bomb of the Summer of 2012, tumbling almost out of the Top 10 in its third weekend.  Sony has clearly cut bait on the film, slashing its theaters to less than 2,500 already.

And outside the Top 10, the documentary from conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza, 2016: Obama’s America, which some conservative commentators have likened as a right-wing rallying cry analogous to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, saw a huge gain, scoring the 6th biggest per screen average of the weekend and grossing $1.2 million on just 169 screens.  Rocky Mountain Pictures will be continuing to expand the film with the hopes the film can be rolled out into 1,500-2,000 screens by October…just in time for the Presidential election.

Here are the weekend’s 10 most attended films (with dollar amounts in millions):

THE EXPENDABLES 2$28.6$28.6NEWLionsgate
THE BOURNE LEGACY$17.1$69.6-55.3Universal
THE CAMPAIGN$13.1$51.4-50.6Warner Bros.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES$11.0$409.8-42.0Warner Bros.
THE ODD LIFE/TIM. GREEN$10.8$15.1NEWBuena Vista
HOPE SPRINGS$9.1$35.1-37.8Sony
DIARY/WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS$3.8$38.7-52.120th Century Fox
TOTAL RECALL$3.5$51.8-56.7Sony