Jessica Alba in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.” (AP Photo/The Weinstein Company)

 

A WEEK AGO, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez told Comic Riffs that they hoped enough people would flock to see “Sin City 2″ so that a second sequel could be greenlighted.

Barring a miracle of a turnaround, the co-directors’ crime-noir franchise just slammed stone cold instead into a red-light district.

Put a toe tag on the hardboiled “Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” before you draw the chalk outline. Nearly a decade after the first “Sin City” was a surprise cinematic hit, the sequel came to theaters nearly DOA.

Even with managed expectations, the studio projections had predicted/hoped that the film would gross about $15-million for its opening weekend. Instead, the film did less than half that–$6.5 million from nearly 2,900 theaters in its domestic debut, according to estimates. Final studio numbers are due Monday.

In the sequel, a gritty fighter played by Josh Brolin says that a swift kick to the groin feels like “an atom bomb goes off between my legs.”

That about sums up what the audience delivered.

“We weren’t prepared for this level of rejection by the public,” Erik Lomis, the theatrical-distribution honcho at the Weinstein Co., told Variety. “We thought the film would resonate more. It’s like the ice bucket challenge without the good cause.”

Instead of the highly stylized 3D sequel adapted from Miller’s critically acclaimed comics, many North American audiences turned — and returned — to two other comic-book franchises.

Disney/Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” ($17.6-million) won a weekend for the second time this month. “GOTG,” spawned from the Marvel books, is the first film this year to win the domestic box office on non-consecutive weekends.

Close behind was past weekend champ “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” ($16.8-million), the ’80s comic series turned screen franchise now distributed by Paramount — which finished just ahead of the new teen drama “If I Stay” ($16.35-million).

FUN WITH NUMBERS:

* “Guardians of the Galaxy” ($251.9 million) is now the third-biggest film of the year domestically, trailing only Disney/Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” ($259.8-million) and Warner Bros.’ “The LEGO Movie” ($257.7 million). (All three of those films, of course, feature superheroes.)

* With “Guardians,” “Winter Soldier” and the fifth-place “Maleficent” ($237.6 million), Disney has three of the year’s five highest-grossing films in North American theaters.

* Five of the year’s top eight films domestically feature characters that have appeared in Marvel Comics. Besides “Winter Soldier” and “Guardians,” they include Paramount’s “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (No. 4 at $243.9 million), Fox’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (No. 6 at $232.8 million) and Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ (No. 8 at $202.8 million). That number grows to six if you count the fact that — in a nod to “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (No. 7 at $203.9 million) — the Marvel imprint Curtis Magazines was one in a long line of “Apes” publishers. (And that number grows to seven if you count the fact that — in a nod to the plastic Batman in “The LEGO Movie” — Marvel has published limited crossovers with DC.)

* “Sin City 2″ was the third-worst domestic debut for a Robert Rodriguez film that opened in wide release, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com (the worst was the 2013 sequel “Machete Kills”). By contrast, the first “Sin City” ($29.1 million) was the second-best opening of his career, trailing only “Spy Kids 3D: Game Over.”

* For comparison’s sake, another 2014 film based on Frank Miller’s comics — the sequel “300: Rise of an Empire” — had a $45.1 million domestic debut to win its opening weekend back in March.

 


Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the character Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Drax (Dave Bautista) in “Guardians of The Galaxy.” (AP/Disney – Marvel)

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