Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Premium Rush

Columbia

The Expendables 2 did its best impression of The Help, repeating as No. 1 at the weak, late-summer box office.

Neither of the weekend's major new films, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's bike-messenger thriller Premium Rush and Dax Shepard's and Kristen Bell's heist comedy Hit and Run, made a dent.

The Ashley Greene paranormal horror flick, The Apparition, looked pretty ghost-like itself in opening with less than $3 million, and failing to crack the Top 10. 

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2016: Obama's America, the not-exactly admiring documentary about President Barack Obama, went wide in time for the Republican convention, and—voilà!—put up the best theater-for-theater performance of any of the big films.

The Expendables 2 is the fourth movie of the summer to top the rankings for more than one week. And according to its studio, it's the first R-rated action movie to pull off the feat since the original Expendables did it back in 2010.

The sequel's estimated Friday-Sunday take of $13.5 million is in line with what The Help grossed in its second weekend during the same box-office period last year.

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For Gordon-Levitt, meanwhile, Premium Rush is a step down from his ostensibly harder-to-sell cancer drama, 50/50, which opened with nearly $9 million last fall.

Hit and Run, which was written and co-directed by Shepard, averaged only about $1,700 at each of its 2,670 theaters, the weakest per-screen average in the Top 10.

The anti-Obama film, by comparison, averaged more than $5,700 from its 1,000-plus screens. Since opening earlier this summer in limited release, the doc has grossed $9.1 million.

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Elsewhere, interest in Sparkle fizzled as the backstage drama made a quick exit from the Top 10. The film, marked by Whitney Houston's final screen performance, saw ticket sales plunge more than 60 percent from last weekend's debut, down to $4.2 million.

The Total Recall reboot was gone from the Top 10 after a forgettable three-week stay. With its tally at about $113 million worldwide, per BoxOfficeMojo.com's count, the Colin Farrell disappointment has yet to make good on its reported budget of "at least" $125 million.

The Sundance favorite, comedian and This American Life contributor Mike Birbiglia's Sleepwalk With Me, killed in its theatrical debut, grossing $75,000 at one New York theater.   

Here's a complete look at the weekend's top movies, per Friday-Sunday domestic estimates as reported by the studios and Exhibitor Relations:

  1. The Expendables 2, $13.5 million
  2. The Bourne Legacy, $9.3 million
  3. ParaNorman, $8.5 million
  4. The Campaign, $7.4 million
  5. The Dark Knight Rises, $7.2 million
  6. The Odd Life of Timothy Green, $7.1 million
  7. Premium Rush, $6.3 million
  8. 2016: Obama's America, $6.2 million
  9. Hope Springs, $6 million
  10. Hit and Run, $4.7 million

(Originally published at 9:50 a.m. PT on Aug. 26, 2012.)

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