The person who had the worst weekend of all had to be former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose return to action with The Last Stand (Lionsgate), co-starring Johnny Knoxville, Luis Guzman, Jaimie Alexander, Rodrigo Santoro, Forest Whitaker and Eduardo Noriega, tanked with just $6.3 million over the three-day weekend in 2,913 theaters with it projected to gross $7.4 million including Monday.
The Last Stand, Arnold Schwarzenegger's first star vehicle since 2003's Terminator: Rise of the Machines, won't even hit $10 million over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. That makes it an early contender for a spot on the "Biggest Bombs of 2013" list.
So what went wrong?
For starters, Schwarzenegger should have taken some advice from Sylvester Stallone. Stallone was able to resurrect his career by bringing back beloved characters so that fans would come rushing back. 2006's Rocky Balboa became a solid $155.7 million global hit, and Stallone followed it with Rambo, a respectable $113.2 million global success. Stallone then wisely assembled a cast of aging action heros for his two Expendables films. The Expendables grossed $273 million globally andExpendables 2 improved upon that with $312.6 million. On February 1, Stallone will hit theaters again in Bullet to the Head--a film that isn't part of an established franchise--and he's poised to stumble. Boxoffice.com is currently predicting that the action flick won't gross more than $20 million during its domestic run. Imagine ifBullet to the Head was Stallone's comeback film? We would be writing the same thing about him that we are writing about Schwarzenegger now.
The lesson here is that Schwarzenegger should have held out for an established property instead of just assuming that people would pay to see him in just any film. Even a sequel to Jingle All the Wayor Kindergarten Cop would have been welcomed with more enthusiasm than The Last Stand.
The material also hurt Schwarzenegger. To be blunt, The Last Stand looks like a movie that could have ended up as a straight-to-video release in 1989. It feels dated, and not in a good way. Stallone showed that you can bank on nostalgia for '80s actions flicks without feeling like a relic at the same time. Schwarzenegger didn't take that one to heart either.
So does the failure of The Last Stand mean that Schwarzenegger's career is over? Of course not. It just doesn't bode well for the two films he has coming out next: The Tomb and Ten. Both films aren't based on established properties. Our advice: get Terminator 5, Triplets or The Legend of Conan made as quickly as possible.