"Expendables 3," which features a sprawling cast of Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and others, also leaked online before its release, potentially damaging its impact in theaters.
Instead, Marvel's "The Guardians of the Galaxy" came in second with $24.7 million, bringing its three-week cumulative total to $222 million for distributor Walt Disney. Along with the Nickelodeon Movies-produced "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," the cosmic romp starring Chris Pratt has helped restore some strength to the summer box office. Sequels are already in the works for both films.
After box-office returns well off the pace of last summer, Hollywood has made a slight comeback in August, typically a dumping ground for studio leftovers. The summer overall is still running at a 15 percent deficit from last year's record-breaking season, but the gap had once been above 20 percent. August is up 14 percent on last year.
"It's called the dog days of August for a reason," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak, "but thankfully in a summer with a lot of ups and downs, this has been a really good August."
A busy weekend slate also helped. Opening in third place was the 20th Century Fox buddy comedy "Let's Be Cops," starring Jake Johnson and Damon Wayons Jr. It took in $17.7 million.
Also debuting was the Lois Lowry adaption "The Giver," a dystopian young-adult tale starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. The Weinstein Co. release opened with an estimated $12.8 million.
Universal and Focus are owned by NBCUniversal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP