'Expendables 3' Shoots Blanks, Online Leak To Blame?

Movie goers had a veritable smorgasbord of cinematic offerings to choose from this weekend, but one film that seemingly didn't get much love was Sylvester Stallone's Expendables 3. As reported by Yahoo! Movies, Expendables 3, which is the third in the popular action series, opened to a disappointing $16.2 million weekend, coming in fourth behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Let's Be Cops. The former two films have been in theaters for three and two weeks, respectively.

Why did Expendables 3 fail to generate an audience when the first two films were surprise successes? The first film opened to $34.8 million in 2010, and the sequel opened to $28.6 million in 2012. Stallone, who wrote and stars, even opted to tone down the violence to seek out a PG-13 rating in hopes of attracting a bigger audience.

The problem may not lay with the film itself, or its menagerie of stars from action films of yore, but in the fact that a studio screener of the film was leaked online three weeks ago, and the audience most inclined to go to the theaters to watch old action stars blow stuff up may have very well already watched it on their computers at home from one of the many movie pirating websites out there. It was reported in Variety that the pirated film was downloaded 189,000 times in the first 24 hours of its leak, and that number reached 2.2 million before Lionsgate could issue legal orders to stop torrent sites from sharing it.

There is arguments that the leaked screener would actually help the film with positive word of mouth, but action films starring geriatric actors whose best work is far behind them (and UFC Women's Champion, Rhonda Rousey) aren't the kind of movies that generate the need for multiple viewings. If a viewer has watched the pirated copy--which was reported to be DVD quality--there is no need to pay $10 to see it again, even on a big screen. But some say you shouldn't blame the leak on the lackluster opening. This argument was made recently on The Inquisitr in full.

Expendables 3
The cast of 'Expendables 3' begs you to come watch them in theaters.

Whatever the reason, The Expendables franchise took a major hit this weekend, and Lionsgate cannot rely on DVD and Blu-ray sales to help shore up the costs differential as most people who would want to own the film already do. It may be too soon to sound the death knell on Stallone and friends, even as the cast seems to get bigger and bigger with each outing, but this weekend will be a wake up call to the studio in regards to how funds should be allocated. And the Expendables 3 could prove to be truly expendable.