Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone shooting blanks at box office

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in Jee-woon Kim's "The Last

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in Jee-woon Kim's "The Last Stand," which hits theaters Jan. 18. (Credit: Lionsgate)

Moviegoers are not going where the action is, at least so far this year.

Sylvester Stallone's "Bullet to the Head" is the latest slam-bang misfire, taking in only $4.5 million its opening weekend for Warner Bros. That was even worse than Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Last Stand," which managed $7.2 million in its debut earlier this month, and Jason Statham's "Parker," which opened to $7 million three weeks ago.

It's only three movies, but that's a nasty trend for three action films with well- established stars, though Schwarzenegger, 65, and Stallone, 66, may be creaking a little. With their two films opening three weeks apart -- and "Parker" in between -- there may have been too much material in the marketplace that skewed to older males. All three were rated R as well, and while none was expected to do gangbusters business, all were expected to do better than they did.

"The mistake that Arnold and Sly made was in thinking they had their fans back after 'Expendables' and that they'd follow them anywhere," BoxOffice.com vice president and senior analyst Phil Contrino said, adding that it has been bad projects rather than action fatigue that's resulted in the box-office dip. Contrino is convinced the genre malaise is nothing that "A Good Day to Die Hard," the Bruce Willis film from Fox that opens today, won't cure.

"It's tracking very strongly, and we have it opening to around $45 million over the four days," he said. "It's also looking very strong overseas, and we see it doing $300 million globally."

And it's a healthy franchise. Starting with the original film in 1988, which made $148 million worldwide, each successive movie has made more money at the global box office. The last one, "Live Free or Die Hard," made $383 million in 2007.

In all, the "Die Hard" franchise has taken in $1.13 billion.

Willis is 57, but his age isn't the only thing that's putting him in a different realm than his "Expendables 2" pals.

"He's seen as more versatile," Contrino said, "and cooler."

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