‘Sin City’ Sequel Is DOA as ‘If I Stay’ Tries to Hold Off ‘Guardians’ at Box Office

Teen tearjerker, Marvel space romp on $17 million pace; Frank Miller’s gritty crime saga trails “When Game Stands Tall”

The gritty and long-delayed sequel “Frank Miller‘s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” tanked in its opening Friday, while the Chloe Moretz teen drama “If I Stay” wept its way to the top of the box office in its first day.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” continues to play powerfully in its fourth week and was second Friday with $4.8 million, behind the $6.8 million of “If I Stay.” That puts both on a roughly $18 million pace for the weekend, but with its broader appeal, Disney’s Marvel space romp could well overtake the low-budget adaptation of Gayle Forman’s bestseller from Warner Bros. and MGM.

Either way, Disney will be happy: “Guardians of the Galaxy” is on course to pass “Transformers: Age of Extinction” as the summer’s highest-grossing movie domestically this weekend, with more than $250 million.

Sony TriStar’s high school football tale “When the Game Stands Tall,” the weekend’s other wide opener, took in $3 million Friday and was running fifth. That projects to $9 million for the three days, in line with expectations. Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which has led the box office for the past two weeks, was in third and heading for a $16 million third weekend, ahead of Fox’s R-rated comedy “Let’s Be Cops,” which is on course for a second week of around $11 million.  

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The nine years between the original “Sin City” and this followup was always going to be a problem for the followup, but it’s proving fatal. The $2.6 million that it managed on Friday means that it’s looking at around $7 million for the three days — less than a quarter of the $29 million that the original “Sin City” debuted with on its way to nearly $160 million worldwide in 2005.

“Dame to Kill For” was financed and produced for a reported $60 million by Aldamisa, AR Films, Miramax, Solipsist and Quick Draw Productions, the company of Robert Rodriguez, who co-directed with Miller. The addition of Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Eva Green to the cast didn’t help the sequel, which also featured Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis.

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The reviews were just OK — it’s at 43 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — and the gritty, black-and-white comic-book look that made the original stand out isn’t a novelty any more. That’s in large part due to the success of other Miller films like “300” and its sequel. It received a “B-” CinemaScore.

“If I Stay” won’t come anywhere near “The Fault in Our Stars,” another low-budget teen novel adaptation that broke out with a $48 million opening in June. But given its $10 million production budget, the R.J. Cutler-directed “If It Stay” was almost a win coming in for Warner Bros. and MGM. Adapted by Shauna Cross, “If I Stay” follows a young woman whose life changes drastically after she’s involved in a terrible car accident. Mireille Enos and Jamie Blackley co-star.

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The best news for “When the Games Stands Tall” may have been the “A-” CinemaScore it received from first-night audiences. Sony is hoping that the story of Bob Ladouceur, who coached Northern California’s De La Salle High football team decade-long win streak, can find an audience over the next couple of weeks and play into the start of football season.

Jim Caviezel stars as the coach at the Catholic school, with Laura Dern as his wife and Michael Chiklis as his assistant. Thomas Carter (“Coach Carter”) directs the inspirational tale, with targets families with a faith-based theme and was made for roughly $15 million.

Things didn’t get much better for “Expendables 3,” which dropped a hefty 69 percent from its opening Friday and took in $1.8 million. That puts it on pace for $6.6 million second weekend that would lift its domestic total to $27 million for distributor Lionsgate.

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It was running behind another second-week film, TWC’s young adult novel adaptation “The Giver,” which fell off 57 percent and brought in a little over $2 million Friday. That puts it on pace for $7 million over the three days, which would up its domestic haul to $24 million.

The second half of August, when students head back to school and football kicks in, are typically slow at the box office and this soft weekend won’t buck that trend. It was running about 9 percent of the comparable weekend last year, when “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” repeated as No. 1 with $16 million.

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