Things are looking good for family films and 3D. The same goes for alien hunters and Adrien Brody. Reporter Anthony D'Alessandro has tallied the numbers for this weekend's box office.
Counter-programming reigned supreme at the box office as Universal's Despicable Me whetted the endless appetites of family filmgoers at the summer box office drawing a delightful $60.1 million, while those fanboys waiting around in the theater lobby for Christopher Nolan's Inception next week shelled out $25.3 million to see Robert Rodriguez's re-boot production of Predators from Fox.
The afterglow was also bright for the rest of the competition. Following a hearty Independence Day weekend, the current frame saw a number of films post just slight dips, including Karate Kid (-29%), Toy Story 3 (-27%), Knight & Day (-25%) and Grown Ups, which became Adam Sandler's 11th film to cross $100 million.
The phenomenon of this weekend is that not only did the marketplace support four family titles, but three 3D titles as well. Distributors noted that the pains of clamoring for 3D venues are dropping with 200 digital sites being added each week, thanks to the exhibitor DCIP consortium which is funding $700 million for upgrades at AMC, Regal and Cinemark theaters. Of those digital upgrades, 72-100 are being equipped for 3D.
As such, 3D remained the driver for Despicable Me, accounting for 45% of its gross and venues while Toy Story 3 saw 51% of its weekend receipts coming from theaters with the visual format and Paramount's The Last Airbender at 47%.
Despicable Me clearly marked an excellent launch for Universal's foray into 3D animation, an accomplishment Universal distribution chief Nikki Rocco attributed to toon producer Christopher Meledandri, and Illumination's ability to "hit with the heart and emotion" as well as comedy.
The key to success with Despicable Me stemmed from its "incredible marketing campaign which reached parents and kids," boasted Rocco, "the stars were aligned." NBC provided a great helping hand in tubthumping the film on the network and at the Olympics with the Despicable Me minion characters. IHOP and Best Buy also rounded out promotions.
Overall, it was a strong opening for Universal which spent $69 million to produce the film. The studio previously dabbled with animated titles, one of its last being 2008's The Tale of Despereaux, which opened to $10.1 million stateside and finaled at $50.9 million. Despicable Me easily became Universal's top opener for the month of July, beating the $52.5 million 2004 opening of The Bourne Supremacy.
The Cinema Score for Despicable Me was an A, with 55% of its crowd being repped by kids 12 years and under and parents. Tomato-meter registered at 80% fresh.
Likewise, big news over at Fox. After a risky portfolio of expensive films this summer, i.e. Knight & Day and The A-Team which have seen lackluster returns, the studio is hitting pay dirt with Predators, which looks to make its $38 million cost back by the end of the week.
Fox distribution senior vice president Bert Livingston pointed out that audiences adored how the film "went back to basics" and how they found a new action hero in Adrien Brody.
"I remember working at Fox when the first Predator was released and this (latest sequel) brings it back to the original," said Livingston, "whenever Robert Rodriguez is attached to a project, it gives it instant credibility."
69% of those getting scared out of their seats at the R-rated action-thriller were males, 31% female with 59% of the moviegoers were over 25 and 41% under.
When Fox tried to resurrect two franchises simultaneously back in August 2004 with Alien vs. Predator, they decided not to screen the movie to critics so as not to dissuade the film's fans. Aliens vs. Predators earned a 21% rotten score on the Tomatometer. However, this time around, the studio wanted the fan blogsphere to know that they had a nail-biting crowd-pleaser on its hands; the end results: 65% fresh on the Tomatometer.
Below is the top 10 chart with weekend figures:
1. Despicable Me (Universal): $60.1 million in its first weekend at 3,476 theaters. $17,295 theater average. Domestic total: $60.1 million
2. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Summit Entertainment ): $33.4 million down 49% at 4,468 theaters in its second weekend. $7,464 theater average. Domestic total: $237 million.
3. Predators (Fox):$25.3 million in its first weekend at 2669 theaters. $9,479 theater average. Domestic total: $25.3 million.
4. Toy Story 3 (Disney/Pixar): $22.0 million down 27% in its fourth weekend at 3,753 theaters. $5,868 theater average. Domestic total: $340.2 million.
5. The Last Airbender (Paramount): $17.15 million down 57% in its second weekend at 3,203 theaters. $5,354 theater average. Domestic total: $100.2 million.
6. Grown Ups (Sony): $16.4 million down 14% in its third weekend at 3,463 theaters. $4,736 theater average. Domestic total: $111.3 million.
7. Knight & Day (Fox): $7.85 million down 25% in its third weekend at 2,628 theaters. $2,987 theater average. Domestic total: $61.9 million.
8. The Karate Kid (Sony): $5.7 million down 29% in its fifth weekend at 2,458 theaters. $2,319 theater average. Domestic total: $164.6 million.
9. The A-Team (Fox): $1.8 million down 44% in its fifth weekend at 1,236 theaters. $1,456 theater average. Domestic total: $73.9 million.
10. Cyrus (Fox Searchlight): $1.375 million up 78% in its fourth weekend at 200 theaters. $6,875 theater average. Domestic total: $3.5 million.