Big $35M Expended on ‘Expendables’; ‘Eat Pray’ Solid at $23.7M

Male-targeted Sylvester Stallone action homage beats out Julia Roberts girlie movie; Universal’s “Scott Pilgrim” running for the Mayflower at only $10.5 million

It was bro's over disenchanted young women seeking connected relationships, spiritual meaning and good food at the domestic box office this weekend.

Serving as director and star, and getting all his old '80s-era action mates to come and play along, Sylvester Stallone's "The Expendables" grossed $35 million, according to studio estimates, meeting the high end of pre-release expectations for the Lionsgate-distributed film.

Produced by Avi Lerner's Millennium Films/NuImage for $82 million, and acquired in North America by Lionsgate for under $20 million, "Expendables" beat out Sony's adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling travel journal "Eat Pray Love," which starred Julia Roberts and drew a solid $23.7 million worth of business.

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Amid an overall box office that was flat with the same weekend in 2009, the other wide release, Universal's youth-focused "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," opened to just $10.5 million. That was below even the middling mid-teens forecast for the $60 million comedy directed by Edgar Wright and starring Michael Cera.

"Regardless of how this opening is perceived, we're still proud of this film and proud of the filmmaker," said Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco.

Emerging from Comic-Con with solid buzz, the film garnered an 80 score from reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and an A grade from movie customer satisfaction grader CinemaScore.

Still, like most films featuring Cera as leading man, the movie failed to break out to a mainstream audience, at least initially.

"The press is always talking and writing about how we need to do more original movies," Rocco added. "Well, Edgar has done that."

Meanwhile, the big story at the weekend box office was the gender battle between the male-targeted "Expendables" and the femme-focused "Eat Pray Love."

"The surprising thing is that we drew as many women as we did," said Lionsgate executive VP of distribution David Spitz, noting that "Expendables" drew an audience that was 39 percent female. By comparison, Stallone's "Rambo" in 2008 skewed only 27 percent female.

Drawing an audience that was 72 percent female and 44 percent under the age of 35, Sony Pictures worldwide distribution president Rory Bruer was also more than pleased with this movie's demographic breakdown.

"I'm sure we didn't have nearly as many young women for 'Julie and Julia," he said, noting the similarly female-skewed book adaptation starring Meryl Streep that Sony put out at virtually the same period last year.

As for holdovers, last weekend's box-office leader, Sony Will Ferrell comedy "The Other Guys," dipped about 50 percent from its opening to $18 million. The $100 million film has cumed $70.5 million in the U.S. and Canada after two weeks.

Warner's "Inception," meanwhile, continues to experience marginal week-to-week declines, dropping just 39 percent to $11.4 million. It's now up to $248.6 million in North America.

Also good news for Sony: Angelina Jolie thriller "Salt" grossed $6.4 million to pass the century mark domestically; it's now up to $103.6 million.

As for 3D movies, Universal's "Despicable Me" continues to hold really well, dropping only 27 percent in its sixth weekend to $6.8 million and bringing its total to $222 million.

However, we might be looking at the end of Disney/Summit's "Step Up" franchise, with the third 3D installment dropping nearly 60 percent this weekend to $6.6 million. Shot for around $30 million, the film's two-week total stands at $29.6 million.