Whether by chance or design, Hollywood turned the weekend of Friday, Aug. 13, 2010, into a cinematic tug of war between the sexes, with two of the most narrowly gender-targeted movies imaginable coming out on the same day.

Über chick flick “Eat, Pray, Love” stars Julia Roberts and has Oprah’s enthusiastic blessing. The film’s website can be found at the cornball self-helpy letyourselfgo.com.

The “Expendables,” meanwhile, is an action supermovie that stars almost every muscled killer from the 1980s, ’90s and oughts. It is vulgar, violent and insane. People, buildings and any sense of decency explode when shot by senior citizen Sylvester Stallone and his cohort.

By weekend estimates, the action flick led by $14.4 million in box-office takings. Interestingly, Box Office Mojo reports that a larger majority of “Eat, Pray, Love’s” audience was made up of women (72 percent) than the “Expendables’ ” was of men (61 percent).

We can deduce, therefore, that either Sylvester Stallone has more crossover gender appeal than Julia Roberts or, contrary to popular myth, more men drag women to the movies than the other way around.

But that’s enough trying to make sweeping cultural assumptions based on two late summer releases. — PZS

Box Office Mojo:

Claiming a burly estimated $35 million on approximately 4,300 screens at 3,270 locations, The Expendables’ opening weekend was a bit less than Inglourious Basterds’ $38.1 million last August, but it was greater than The A-Team’s $25.7 million and nearly doubled Rambo’s $18.2 million. Distributor Lionsgate’s exit polling indicated that 61 percent of Expendables’ audience was male (slightly more than Basterds) and 60 percent was 25 years and older (younger than Basterds).

Eat Pray Love collected an estimated $23.7 million on close to 3,700 screens at 3,082 locations, which topped Julie & Julia’s $20 million first weekend last August. It also marked Julia Roberts’ biggest launch in a top-billed role since America’s Sweethearts in 2001. Distributor Sony Pictures reported that 72 percent of the audience was female and 56 percent was 35 years and older, and the studio noted that 28 percent of moviegoers were 17-to-29-years-old.

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This fan-made trailer plays on the gender politics of the two movies:

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