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Box Office: Expendables Easily Tromps Newbies

The Weekend’s Winners: In the absence of any manly competition, Sly Stallone’s The Expendables topped the box office again with $16.5 million. Also, despite sucky reviews and an early online leak, Twilight spoof Vampires Suck managed second place with $12.2 million.

The Weekend’s Losers: Nanny McPhee Returns (No. 7), which returned to an unspectacular $8.3 million. Jennifer Aniston’s artificial-insemination comedy The Switch, which was only good enough for $8.1 million and an eighth-place finish. Also, film critics, who gave Vampires Suck an anorexic 3 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and saw it open at No. 2 anyway.

How It All Went Down: “If you want to look thin,” asserts Rodney Dangerfield in the 1986 classic Back to School, “…you hang out with fat people.”

With September around the corner, the beefcake-rich Expendables took that lesson to heart: Seemingly every other pencil-necked film — Eat Pray Love, Nanny McPhee Returns, The Switch, Vampires Suck — was aimed at women, so The Expendables could afford to drop half of its opening gross and still manage to stuff five freshman films into their lockers, minus their lunch money.

What happened? Well, Expendables didn’t so much succeed wildly as perform ably while everything around it failed to launch.

For one thing, people stayed away in droves from The Switch. Men in particular seemed to act as if merely saying its title aloud put them at risk for testicular cancer, so assiduously did they avoid it: Late week NRG tracking supplied to Vulture by studio execs showed it was the first choice of just 1 percent of men under the age of 25, and only 2 percent of men over 25. But even worse, unlike Eat Pray Love or Nanny McPhee, Switch also failed to excite women: Only 5 percent of women under 25 said it was their first choice, while only 10 percent of women over 25 said the same.

What did excite young women? Vampires Suck, a parody from send-up kings Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (the writers of Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, and yes, Scary Movie). Almost three-fourth of those willing to part with their hard earned cash to see Twi-hard: Twi With a Vengeance Vampires Suck were under the age of 25 (and therefore too young to appreciate a Die Hard joke dating back to 1995) and 55 percent of them were females.

Also helping The Expendables was the female-skewing Nanny McPhee Returns, whose under-25 audience was three-fourths young girls and whose over-25 audience was more than two thirds the parents who drove them there in a minivan. Even worse (or in the case of The Expendables, better) Nanny underperformed even with the family audiences with which it was expected to connect — by several million dollars.

Finally, we can’t help but wonder if there’s something to the fact that The Expendables is just unapologetically aggressive in an age when leading men are increasingly slackers and girly-men who can barely grow a beard. An E-Poll Market research report titled “The Kinder, Gentler Action Hero” found that, in addition to high current awareness and appeal, Mssrs. Stallone, Willis, Lundgren, Rourke, and Li all share an above category average score in Aggressive, reaching 19 percent. By comparison, it found that the average actor in an action/adventure film scores an Aggressive rating of only 7 percent.

Memo to Jake Gyllenhaal (2 percent): It might be time to man up.

Your Top Ten:
1. The Expendables: $16,500,000 ($64,890,000)
2. Vampires Suck: $12,200,000 ($18,564,000)
3. Eat Pray Love: $12,000,000 ($47,100,000)
4. Lottery Ticket: $11,125,000
5. The Other Guys: $10,100,000 ($88,190,000)
6. Piranha 3D: $10,035,000
7. Nanny McPhee Returns: $8,310,000
8. The Switch: $8,100,000
9. Inception: $7,655,000 ($261,848,000)
10. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: $5,034,000 ($20,730,000)

Box Office: Expendables Easily Tromps Newbies