Weekend Box Office (November 5 - 7, 2010)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The holiday movie season started off with a bang as three new releases pumped in nearly $100M in ticket sales allowing the top ten to surge to its highest level since July. Leading the charge was the animated comedy Megamind which didn't have a mega opening, but still delivered a solid debut at number one. Premiering in second place with strength was the R-rated comedy Due Date while the Tyler Perry film For Colored Girls... enjoyed a sturdy debut of its own in third place.

DreamWorks Animation scored its third number one 3D hit of the year with the Will Ferrell vehicle Megamind which bowed to $46M from 3,944 locations for a strong $11,668 average, according to final studio figures. The PG-rated film earned generally good reviews and played to a broad audience of families and young adults. Tina Fey and Brad Pitt also lent their voices to the tale of a supervillain who discovers how to be a good guy. The opening was only slightly better than the $43.7M debut of the studio's March release How To Train Your Dragon, which had less star wattage but much better reviews, and well below the $59.3M of its 2009 offering Monsters vs. Aliens. All were 3D toons that took advantage of higher ticket prices although Megamind arguably had the most starpower. The company's Shrek Forever After debuted to $70.8M in May, however it was a franchise film with a built-in audience.

Even older non-sequel Pixar films launching on the first weekend of November did better than Megamind like the $70.5M of 2004's The Incredibles and the $62.6M for 2001's Monsters Inc. Ticket prices were much less back then and they didn't benefit from 3D surcharges. In fact looking at admissions, the superhero toon Incredibles sold twice as many tickets on opening weekend than the blue supervillain. Paramount and DreamWorks invested heavily into the film's extensive marketing campaign but the long-term picture does look bright. 3D toons tend to have good legs and play amazingly well overseas and having Brad Pitt involved certainly will give a boost around the world. A final global gross in the area of $500M or more is certainly possible.

Those looking for more racy laughs lined up for the R-rated road trip comedy Due Date which debuted in second place with terrific results grossing $32.7M. Playing in 3,355 sites, the Warner Bros. release starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis averaged a muscular $9,743 per location. Reviews were not too upbeat and certainly did not match those for director Todd Phillips' last film The Hangover which enjoyed a bigger debut with $45M in June 2009. Starpower and a pricey marketing tab helped to open Due Date, but word-of-mouth will decide the fate from here on out.

Tyler Perry ventured into new territory by directing someone else's story and making an R-rated film with For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf which debuted in third place with $19.5M. The Lionsgate release averaged a stellar $9,167 from 2,127 locations and like the filmmaker's prior work played heavily to black adult women. According to studio data, 82% of the crowd was female, 87% was over 25, and 81% was African American. Based on the popular play, Girls covered disturbing subject matter but brought out a large targeted audience thanks to the brand names of the director and the play, plus starpower from cast members like Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, and Whoopi Goldberg. The gross was just somewhat below the $23.4M bow of Perry's last fall release I Can Do Bad All By Myself from last year.

Leading all the holdovers was the four-week-old geezer action hit Red which slipped only 19% to $8.7M boosting the cume to a sturdy $71.7M. The Summit release now looks to have a shot at breaking the $100M mark. Tumbling 68% in its second weekend was the horror sequel Saw 3D which fell from first to fifth with $7.7M. Recent installments have generated about 80% of their totals in the first ten days so with $38.8M in the bank so far, the Lionsgate fright flick should finish with just under $50M making it the second-lowest-grossing film in the seven-part series ahead of just last year's Saw VI.

Rival horror sequel Paranormal Activity 2 suffered a big loss of its own declining by 57% in its third session to $7M. Paramount has scared up $77M to date. Studio stablemate Jackass 3D dropped by only 42% to $5M putting the total for this fall's top-grossing blockbuster at $110.7M.

Two older-skewing dramas followed. Clint Eastwood's Hereafter slipped by 38% to $4M while the Disney sports drama Secretariat eased by just 19% to $4.1M. Cumes stand at $28.7M and $51M, respectively.Sony rounded out the top ten with its acclaimed Facebook film The Social Network which grossed $3.4M, off a slim 24%, for a $84.9M sum.

Opening to an avalanche of business in just four theaters was the mountain climber drama 127 Hours which bowed to $264,851 for a sizzling $66,213 average per location playing exclusively in New York and Los Angeles. Directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting), the R-rated film starring James Franco in the true story of a young man's remarkable survival story while trapped alone in a canyon earned rave reviews across the board and generated industry buzz earlier this fall screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Hours widens to about 20 playdates in the top ten markets on Friday and will expand to all major cities by Thanksgiving weekend.

Despite a story that involves Iraq, the political thriller Fair Game opened with a solid debut in limited release grossing $651,082 from 46 theaters for a sturdy $14,154 average. The Naomi Watts-Sean Penn starrer played to an older adult audience and received an encouraging A- CinemaScore. Summit will expand to about 175 runs on Friday.

The top ten films grossed $138.1M which was up a healthy 34% from last year when A Christmas Carol opened in the top spot with $30.1M; and up 12% from 2008 when Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa debuted at number one with $63.1M.

Compared to projections, Megamind did not reach my $60M forecast while Due Date opened ahead of my $28M prediction. For Colored Girls... was on target with my $20M projection.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

For a Blu-Ray review of Beauty and the Beast, visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Unstoppable, Skyline, and Morning Glory all open.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Nov 5 - 7 Oct 29 - 31 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Megamind $ 46,016,833 3,944 1 $ 11,668 $ 46,016,833 Paramount
2 Due Date 32,689,406 3,355 1 9,743 32,689,406 Warner Bros.
3 For Colored Girls... 19,497,324 2,127 1 9,167 19,497,324 Lionsgate
4 Red 8,652,086 10,729,636 -19.4 3,229 4 2,679 71,664,962 Summit
5 Saw 3D 7,731,075 24,230,123 -68.1 2,808 2 2,753 38,331,783 Lionsgate
6 Paranormal Activity 2 7,034,742 16,508,107 -57.4 3,168 3 2,221 76,959,864 Paramount
7 Jackass 3D 4,951,282 8,504,163 -41.8 2,165 4 2,287 110,668,357 Paramount
8 Secretariat 4,067,715 5,005,657 -18.7 2,614 5 1,556 51,031,068 Buena Vista
9 Hereafter 4,011,397 6,422,327 -37.5 2,365 4 1,696 28,721,066 Warner Bros.
10 The Social Network 3,424,860 4,515,105 -24.1 1,860 6 1,841 84,871,492 Sony
11 Life As We Know It 3,066,179 4,055,473 -24.4 1,950 5 1,572 48,506,252 Warner Bros.
12 Conviction 1,628,786 1,831,111 -11.0 672 4 2,424 4,794,930 Fox Searchlight
13 The Town 1,164,382 1,975,260 -41.1 801 8 1,454 89,748,239 Warner Bros.
14 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest 746,572 881,737 -15.3 186 2 4,014 2,247,619 Music Box
15 Fair Game 651,082 46 1 14,154 651,082 Summit
16 Golmaal 3 626,432 86 1 7,284 626,432 Eros
17 Legend of the Guardians 481,463 1,758,321 -72.6 740 7 651 54,011,558 Warner Bros.
18 Easy A 478,990 1,067,248 -55.1 468 8 1,023 57,227,601 Sony
19 Waiting for "Superman" 395,237 515,283 -23.3 242 7 1,633 5,408,080 Paramount
20 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps 333,156 783,868 -57.5 353 7 944 51,887,446 Fox
Top 5 $ 114,586,724 $ 66,394,356 72.6
Top 10 138,076,720 83,776,962 64.8
Top 20 147,648,999 90,960,391 62.3
Top 20 vs. 2009 147,648,999 116,201,875 27.1

Last Updated: November 8, 2010 at 11:45PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.