Sylvester Stallone in 'The Expendables'
Sylvester Stallone's band of mercenaries blasted their way to box office victory with 'The Expendables,' which earned the veteran action star his biggest opening weekend since, well, ever. It was an especially impressive feat given that 'Expendables' faced competition from two much-hyped competitors, Julia Roberts' 'Eat Pray Love' and Michael Cera's 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.'

'Expendables' surpassed even the most optimistic projections with a take of just over $35 million, according to studio estimates. The only comparable opening weekend for Stallone in recent years was the $33.4 million debut in 2003 for 'Spy Kids 3D: Game Over,' in which he played a supporting role. 'Expendables,' which opened on the most screens this weekend (3,270 locations), also enjoyed the weekend's biggest per-screen average ($10,713). Despite dismissive reviews, positive word-of-mouth suggests that the movie delivered the kind of macho, old-school action fun (if nothing more) that its marketing had promised. And with 'Eat Pray Love' its strongest competitor, 'Expendables' was clearly the go-to choice for guys this weekend.
Sylvester Stallone in 'The Expendables'
Sylvester Stallone's band of mercenaries blasted their way to box office victory with 'The Expendables,' which earned the veteran action star his biggest opening weekend since, well, ever. It was an especially impressive feat given that 'Expendables' faced competition from two much-hyped competitors, Julia Roberts' 'Eat Pray Love' and Michael Cera's 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.'

'Expendables' surpassed even the most optimistic projections with a take of just over $35 million, according to studio estimates. The only comparable opening weekend for Stallone in recent years was the $33.4 million debut in 2003 for 'Spy Kids 3D: Game Over,' in which he played a supporting role. 'Expendables,' which opened on the most screens this weekend (3,270 locations), also enjoyed the weekend's biggest per-screen average ($10,713). Despite dismissive reviews, positive word-of-mouth suggests that the movie delivered the kind of macho, old-school action fun (if nothing more) that its marketing had promised. And with 'Eat Pray Love' its strongest competitor, 'Expendables' was clearly the go-to choice for guys this weekend.

Julia Roberts in 'Eat Pray Love''Eat Pray Love' opened in line with expectations at an estimated $23.7 million. Its audience, according to distributor Sony, was 72 percent female and 56 percent over 35. Like this summer's earlier 'Sex and the City 2,' which played to the same audience (but which opened with $31 million), this one earned middling reviews but strong word-of-mouth. With an opening on 3,082 screens, it averaged a healthy $7,690 per venue. It also marked the strongest opening for a Roberts star vehicle since 2001's 'America's Sweethearts' took in $30.1 million.

Michael Cera in 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'The weekend's other big movie, 'Scott Pilgrim,' proved a disappointment with a fifth-place opening of just $10.5 million. Like this year's earlier 'Kick-Ass,' the movie enjoyed a lot of pre-release hype but failed to attract interest beyond its cult of comic-book fans. The video game-style action-romance also may have lost action-craving viewers to 'Expendables' and romance viewers to 'Eat Pray Love.' With the narrowest opening of this weekend's wide releases (2,818 locations), 'Scott Pilgrim' earned just $3,726 per screen, about the same as 'Inception,' which is in its fifth week.

In fact, 'Inception' beat 'Scott Pilgrim' to finish fourth. Though the movie's been out for five weeks, it's still playing in 300 more theaters than 'Scott Pilgrim' and still managed to earn a solid $11.4 million, for a total to date of $248.6 million. Also still going strong was last week's champ, 'The Other Guys,' which fell to third place this week. It did half as much business as last week, but that was still good for an estimated $18 million and a two-week total of $70.5 million.

For the first time in its nine-week run, 'Toy Story 3' fell out of the top 10 (it was No. 11 this weekend with $2.2 million), but it quietly reached a few major milestones over the last few days. It crossed the $400 million mark at the domestic box office, becoming only the 11th movie in history to do so. (Later this week, it should surpass the $402.1 million earned by 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' to become the tenth highest-grossing movie of all time.) It's the top-earning animated film in the history of Pixar or Disney, the highest-grossing animated film (internationally) of all time, and the second-biggest film ever for Disney (after 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest,' which sold $423.3 million in tickets). It's also the top-grossing G-rated movie ever.

The full top 10:
1. 'The Expendables,' $35.0 million (3,270 screens), new release
2. 'Eat Pray Love,' $23.7 million (3,082), new release
3. 'The Other Guys,' $18.6 million (3,651 screens), $70.5 million total
4. 'Inception,' $11.4 million (3,120), $248.6 million
5, 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,' $10.5 million (2,818), new release
6. 'Despicable Me,' $6.8 million (2,923), $222.0 million
7. 'Step Up 3-D,' $6.6 million (2,439), $29.6 million
8. 'Salt,' $6.4 million (2,834), $103.6 million
9. 'Dinner for Schmucks,' $6.3 million (3,046), $58.8 million
10. 'Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,' $4.1 million (2,728), $35.1 million

Top 10 movies of summer 2010:
1. 'Toy Story 3,' $400.8 million
2. 'Iron Man 2,' $312.1 million
3. 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,' $295.9 million
4. 'Inception,' $248.6 million
5. 'Shrek Forever After,' $237.2million
6. 'Despicable Me,' $222.0 million
7. 'The Karate Kid,' $173.9 million
8. 'Grown Ups,' $158.1 million
9. 'The Last Airbender,' $129.7 million
10. 'Robin Hood,' $105.3 million

•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.