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Old action stars Sly, Arnold, Al take a box-office pounding

This film image released by Roadside Attractions shows Christopher Walken as Doc left Al Pacino as Val scene from 'StUp

This film image released by Roadside Attractions shows, Christopher Walken as Doc, left, and Al Pacino as Val, in a scene from "Stand Up Guys." (AP Photo/Roadside Attractions, Saeed Adyani)

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Updated: March 11, 2013 6:25AM

LOS ANGELES — Modern Hollywood has never been much of a playground for aging actors.

But lately, the kids have been downright snotty to the Geritol generation.

Over the past three weeks, former big-screen titans Arnold Schwarzenegger, 65, Sylvester Stallone, 66, and Al Pacino, 72, have not only seen their films open to less-than-stellar numbers, they’re not even cracking the top 5.

The decline has been dramatic:

† Stallone’s “Bullet to the Head,” a throwback to the shoot-’em-ups of the ’80s and ’90s, mustered a feeble $4.5 million at the box office last weekend, less than half what analysts expected.

† The same weekend, “Stand Up Guys,” an all-star collection of Oscar-winning veterans including Pacino, Christopher Walken, 69, and Alan Arkin, 78, did a paltry $1.5 million. While the film saw only limited release, it came in 17th place, two spots behind the gross-out comedy “Movie 43” (already a flop in its second week).

† Schwarzenegger’s action film “The Last Stand” dropped an astounding 88 percent from its Jan. 18 opening weekend, one of the largest declines in Hollywood history. It did $265,000 last weekend, behind a limited-run film festival of 2013’s Oscar-nominated short films.

“Right now, it seems, no young people are interested in these guys, at least by themselves” says Jeff Bock, chief analyst for box office trackers Exhibitor Relations. “The only way people will see them is if they band together as teams.”

And even that appeal is waning.

“The Expendables,” the 2010 action film starring Stallone, Jason Statham, now 45, Jet Li, 49, and Mickey Rourke, 60, had analysts thinking comeback when the movie racked up $103 million.

And while last summer’s “The Expendables 2” reunited the cast (and added some names like Chuck Norris, 72, and Jean-Claude Van Damme, 52), the movie saw diminished returns of $85 million, unusual for a high-profile sequel (and an economic flub for a $100 million movie).

For their part, the stars say they’ll keep doing what they know.

“I cannot be happy if I’m not useful. It’s that simple,” Schwarzenegger says. “I get up and I have work to do. I am happy on a movie set. I wouldn’t be happy to sit back. And do what? That’s not my style. I will be doing things until I’m six feet under.”

The next high-profile test comes Thursday, when Bruce Willis, 57, stars in “A Good Day to Die Hard,” the fifth film in the “Die Hard” franchise.

Analysts say “Day” stands a better chance than its AARP-qualified predecessors because it’s part of an established franchise. Since the series began in 1988, the movies have averaged $109 million apiece, according to

Gannett News Service

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