Stallone knocks out Julia Roberts at box office

Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:46pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sylvester Stallone outmuscled Julia Roberts at the weekend box office in North America on Sunday to score the biggest opening of his career with his new film "The Expendables."

The action hero's all-star mercenary thriller earned an estimated $35 million across the United States and Canada during its first three days of release, distributor Lionsgate said.

The opening, which was in line with bullish expectations, marks a boost not only for Stallone, who directed and co-wrote the project as well, but also for Lionsgate, whose Lions Gate Entertainment Corp parent is fending off a hostile takeover from investor Carl Icahn.

The film, predictably, played strongest with older men who are nostalgic for '80s action flicks with high body counts and loud explosions. A sequel is reportedly in the works.

Julia Roberts, whose career has been almost as cold as Stallone's in recent years, followed at a distant No. 2 with "Eat Pray Love." The big-screen adaptation of a bestselling memoir about a woman's international search for herself, opened with $23.7 million, also in line with expectations.

The drama, which was targeted at older women, was released by Columbia Pictures. The Sony Corp unit topped the box office last weekend with "The Other Guys." The Will Ferrell cop comedy fell to No. 3 with $18 million, taking its 10-day total to $70.5 million.

A third newcomer, the comic-book adaptation "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World," bombed at No. 5 with $10.5 million. It marks the second disappointment this month for General Electric Co-owned distributor Universal Pictures, following "Charlie St. Cloud."


Stallone, 64, was last in theaters with a pair of modest retreads revisiting his glory days, 2008's "Rambo" and 2006's "Rocky Balboa." They opened to $18 million and $12 million, respectively.   Continued...

<p>U.S. actor Sylvester Stallone (C), British actor Jason Statham (L) and Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren arrive for the German premiere of their new movie "The Expendables" in Berlin, August 6, 2010. REUTERS/Thomas Peter</p>