Weekend Box Office (July 9 - 11, 2010)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers flooded the multiplexes spending plenty of cash on a variety of movies led by the better-than-expected opening for the 3D animated comedy Despicable Me which easily took control of the number one spot. The sci-fi action pic Predators also debuted well taking third place while most holdovers showed considerable strength suffering only small declines. The top ten surged to $182M which was potent, but $9M below what studios were estimating on Sunday.

Steve Carell's evil plan for world domination worked as his new toon Despicable Me hauled in $56.4M this weekend from 3,476 theaters for a muscular $16,225 average, according to final studio figures. For struggling Universal, it was the best opening for the studio in the 15 months since Fast and Furious bowed to $71M in April 2009. Expected to debut in the $30-40M range, the PG-rated pic took advantage of great reviews plus highly effective trailers and TV spots that made the film appeal to both families as well as teens and young adults. Parents with kids under 12 made up only 55% of the crowd while the CinemaScore grade was an encouraging A. The performance was especially impressive considering the fact that Toy Story 3 and The Last Airbender are pulling in kids and together grossed nearly $40M this weekend.

Despicable Me outgunned the openings of other non-sequel 3D toons like How to Train Your Dragon and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs which bowed to $43.7M and $30.3M, respectively. Both were embraced by critics and audiences alike and went on to gross four to five times their opening weekend grosses. With Despicable's summer play period, its domestic gross could easily go on to triple the $69M production budget in North America alone and add much more from overseas markets plus worldwide home video.

Following an explosive opening week that saw a staggering $187M in seven days, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse fell to second place in its sophomore weekend collecting $31.7M propelling the 12-day haul to a massive $235.4M. The third Cullen pic dropped only 51%. The decline was not too high since the Friday-to-Sunday period last week did not include the opening day turnout. But Summit should be very happy with the hold as it was much lower than the sophomore falls for the last two highly anticipated Harry Potter films which also launched on summer Wednesdays. 2007's Order of the Phoenix dropped 58% and last year's Half-Blood Prince fell 62%.

Overseas, Eclipse banked an additional $81.1M from 63 markets and boosted the overseas cume to $219M and the global haul to $454M. In North America, the latest Bella tale should be able to beat New Moon's $296.6M and finish in the neighborhood of $310M.

Fox's sci-fi reboot Predators landed in third place opening to $24.8M from 2,669 theaters for a sturdy $9,277 average per location. The R-rated action film was produced by Robert Rodriguez and starred Adrien Brody and Laurence Fishburne. Budgeted at just under $40M, the ultraviolent pic took advantage of a marketplace dominated by movies for women and kids leaving a big opportunity that a franchise-based testosterone flick could take advantage of. The weekend was heavily frontloaded with Friday accounting for 42% of the three-day gross and Saturday falling 19% from the opening day. Reviews were quite good for this genre.

Despite another 3D toon stealing away potential business, Toy Story 3 held up very well in its fourth frame grossing $21M slipping only 31%. The Woody threequel upped its total gross to a stellar $339.2M after only 24 days and on Monday will become the highest-grossing film ever for Pixar edging past the $339.7M of 2003's Finding Nemo. The fish flick has sold about 40% more tickets, though, as prices were lower seven years ago and there were no 3D surcharges added in to its tally. Toy Story 3 rose up to number 18 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters behind Nemo.

Paramount's The Last Airbender suffered the worst drop in the top ten tumbling 59% to $16.6M in its second weekend. The M. Night Shyamalan-directed sci-fi actioner raised its 11-day total to a solid $99.7M and on Monday will become the director's first film to break the century mark since 2004's The Village. Airbender could conclude its domestic run in the vicinity of $140M.

Adam Sandler crossed the $100M mark for the eleventh time in his career over the weekend as his latest comedy Grown Ups enjoyed a sensational hold slipping only 17% to $15.8M boosting the 17-day tally to $110.7M for Sony. Despite the usual dreadful reviews, audiences are continuing to turn out for this dose of mindless summer laughs. Tom Cruise won't be joining the century club with his action-comedy Knight and Day which slipped 26% to $7.7M for $61.8M to date for Fox.

80s pals The Karate Kid and The A-Team have spent all five of their weeks next to each other on the charts. Sony's Kid fell 33% to $5.4M while Fox's Team dropped 45% to $1.8M. Totals thus far are $164.3M and $73.9M, respectively.

Holding onto tenth place was the indie hit comedy Cyrus which expanded from 77 to 200 locations and watched its weekend gross climb 65% to $1.3M. The Fox Searchlight release averaged a solid $6,402 and has banked $3.4M to date with many more cities to open in the coming weeks.

There was plenty of good news to go around for other independent films in limited release too. Focus enjoyed sensational results for its Sundance acquisition The Kids Are All Right which platformed in only seven locations but grossed $491,971 for a scorching $70,282 per theater. Winning praise from critics, the R-rated film about teen children of a lesbian couple wanting to meet their biological father was picked up for nearly $5M after wowing the film industry in Park City in January.

Also performing very well was the Swedish thriller The Girl Who Played With Fire which opened at number eleven nationwide with $904,998 from only 110 locations for a strong $8,227 average. Fire is the sequel to March's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which has grossed $9.3M to date. Other notable indie holdovers include Roadside Attractions' Winter's Bone with $456,495 and $4,307 average in its fifth weekend with $2.5M to date, and Anchor Bay's Solitary Man with $419,338 and $3.5M cume.

The top ten films grossed $192.4M which was up 38% from last year when Brüno opened in the top spot with $30.6M; and up 30% from 2008 when Hellboy II debuted at number one with $34.5M. This is the third year in a row that Universal opened a new film at number one on this particular frame.

Compared to projections, Despicable Me opened well ahead of my $37M forecast while Predators was on target with my $26M prediction.

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Be sure to check the UPDATED chart for the top July openings of all-time. For a review of Eclipse, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Inception and The Sorcerer's Apprentice both open.

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# Title Jul 9 - 11 Jul 2 - 4 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Despicable Me $ 56,397,125 3,476 1 $ 16,225 $ 56,397,125 Universal
2 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse 31,708,438 64,832,191 -51.1 4,468 2 7,097 235,370,815 Summit
3 Predators 24,760,882 2,669 1 9,277 24,760,882 Fox
4 Toy Story 3 21,015,958 30,280,024 -30.6 3,753 4 5,600 339,240,857 Buena Vista
5 The Last Airbender 16,635,471 40,325,019 -58.7 3,203 2 5,194 99,712,757 Paramount
6 Grown Ups 15,806,738 19,049,602 -17.0 3,463 3 4,564 110,721,531 Sony
7 Knight and Day 7,719,251 10,443,233 -26.1 2,628 3 2,937 61,808,110 Fox
8 The Karate Kid 5,365,636 8,000,259 -32.9 2,458 5 2,183 164,301,124 Sony
9 The A-Team 1,752,421 3,190,024 -45.1 1,236 5 1,418 73,923,594 Fox
10 Cyrus 1,280,470 774,472 65.3 200 4 6,402 3,426,545 Fox Searchlight
11 The Girl Who Played With Fire 904,998 110 1 8,227 904,998 Music Box
12 Get Him to the Greek 711,625 1,233,220 -42.3 442 6 1,610 59,424,055 Universal
13 I Am Love 503,008 528,877 -4.9 111 4 4,532 2,003,059 Magnolia
14 Shrek Forever After 502,392 890,166 -43.6 461 8 1,090 233,784,897 Paramount
15 The Kids Are All Right 491,971 7 1 70,282 491,971 Focus
16 Winter's Bone 456,495 430,329 6.1 106 5 4,307 2,512,455 Roadside Attrac.
17 Solitary Man 419,338 497,276 -15.7 172 8 2,438 3,505,279 Anchor Bay
18 Iron Man 2 392,755 638,314 -38.5 333 10 1,179 309,237,294 Paramount
19 Marmaduke 353,815 359,085 -1.5 383 6 924 31,545,737 Fox
20 Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time 348,308 690,501 -49.6 275 7 1,267 89,004,440 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 150,517,874 $ 164,930,069 -8.7
Top 10 182,442,390 178,607,959 2.1
Top 20 187,527,095 184,218,338 1.8
Top 20 vs. 2009 187,527,095 139,625,116 34.3

Last Updated: July 12, 2010 at 5:30PM ET