With the end of summer rapidly approaching, it seems there aren't many people who want to spend their final no school or work days at the movie theater.
The four new pictures hitting multiplexes this weekend aren't generating much interest among potential audiences. As a result, last weekend's No. 1 film "The Expendables 2" is expected to top the box office yet again, collecting at least $10 million more after its $28.6-million debut.
Of the new offerings, the action chase film "Premium Rush" may fare best. The film, which stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a New York City bicycle messenger being pursued by a crooked cop, will likely take in a lackluster $6 million during its first three days in release, according to individuals who have seen pre-release audience surveys.
"Hit & Run," a road trip comedy from actor Dax Shepard, will probably sell about the same amount of tickets over the weekend. The film's distributor, Open Road, debuted the movie Wednesday hoping to generate positive word-of-mouth, but that plan didn't go well. In its first day of release, "Hit & Run" grossed only around $625,000, according to the distributor. To make matters worse, the scant few who saw the film hated it, assigning it an average grade of C+, reports market research firm CinemaScore.
Also debuting nationwide this weekend is "2016: Obama's America," a political documentary from conservative author Dinesh D'Souza. Since its start in limited release in mid-July, the anti-Obama flick has raked in an impressive $2.4 million. As it expands from 169 theaters to 1,075 locations, the film has sold more advance tickets than any other movie this weekend, according to Fandango.
The documentary could collect $4 million more this weekend, even more than the new horror film from Warner Bros., "The Apparition." The scary picture featuring "Twilight" actress Ashley Greene may gross only $2 million this weekend. The picture, which cost $17 million, was financed by producer Joel Silver's Dark Castle Entertainment.
However, Warner is releasing the movie in only around 800 theaters and spending little on marketing as part of its contractual agreement with Dark Castle. The studio does not appear to be supportive of the film, likely because Silver's deal at Warner Bros. is ending in late 2012 after a 25-year-long partnership. The producer has already left his offices on Warner's Burbank lot.
"Premium Rush" has garnered the most positive reviews of any of the new debuts, notching a 79% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Though the movie's launch won't likely be spectacular, Sony Pictures didn't spend much to produce it — around $35 million.
The film also marks the beginning of Gordon-Levitt's attempt to open bigger studio films. The 31-year-old has headlined a handful of independent movies and has had supporting roles in studio films including "Inception" and "The Dark Knight Rises."
After "Premium Rush," the actor will appear in Rian Johnson's highly anticipated time travel film "Looper," set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.
"Hit & Run," meanwhile, is the fourth release from Open Road Films, the independent distributor jointly owned by theater chains AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment. The $2-million movie was acquired by Open Road, which has spent at least $20 million to aggressively market it. Open Road's biggest box office success has been "The Grey," a thriller starring Liam Neeson that took in more than $50 million at the domestic box office.
The film, also written, co-directed and produced by Shepard, stars the actor alongside his fiancee, Kristen Bell, in a story about a couple being chased by a motley crew as they try to flee to Los Angeles.
Follow Amy Kaufman on Twitter @AmyKinLA