Superhero toon Megamind put the brakes on runaway train movie Unstoppable at the weekend box office. The Paramount/DreamWorks animated title remained more powerful than a locomotive in its second session, maintaining first place with $30.1 million at 3,949 theaters while Tony Scott’s choo-choo actioner arrived in second with estimates of $23.5 million at 3,207 whistle stops – the director’s second highest three-day take, behind 1987’s Beverly Hills Cop II ($26.3 million). Despite the competition from a speeding-bullet train, Rogue Pictures’ alien invasion feature Skyline, released through Universal, was able to chip $11.7 million at 2,880 while crowds failed to wake up to Paramount’s Morning Glory with $9.6 million at 2,518.
While box office pundits thought Unstoppable had a shot at taking the top spot, working in Megamind’s favor were kids out of school for the Veterans Day holiday and the absence of a tentpole crowd-pleaser such as last year’s disaster pic 2012. On Thursday alone, Megamind brought in a super $7.6 million. But don’t underestimate Scott’s Unstoppable -- this film could have more coal to burn than his other Washington headliners, which typically run out of steam after an explosive first weekend.
Critics are jumping up and down about Unstoppable: they compared it to ‘90s action fave Speed and awarded the film an overall 87% fresh and a top reviewer 90% rating on the Tomatometer. That’s the best-reviewed Scott-Washington combo since 1995’s Crimson Tide. And audiences, which were split 50/50 male to female and 65% over 25, also applauded with an A- Cinemascore.
That momentum will fuel Unstoppable, which cost $85 million after tax credits, as an alternative choice for adults as it faces the competitive Harry Potter holiday frame. Unstoppable could prove a badly needed win for Scott, whose last smash hit was 12 years ago: 1998’s Thanksgiving pleaser Enemy of the State ($111 million). The director’s neon-lensed actioners tend to score big openers followed by deep second-weekend plunges. The final domestic cumes of his films are often middling (Pelham 1 2 3: $65.5 million) or worse (Domino, $10.2 million).
A picture finally clicked financially for Relativity Media’s genre division Rogue Pictures: The Cloverfield-meets-Independence Day actioner Skyline beamed its $10-million budget back at the B.O. with an estimated $11.7 million. While Relativity has scored modest profits with many co-productions, its previous two solo entries this year failed to make their numbers. Despite having brand names above the title, Wes Craven’s $25-million My Soul to Take died with $14.7 million and $10-million MacGruber self-imploded with $8.5 million. Marketing for Skyline was everywhere, from this summer's visceral ‘sky is falling’ UFO posters/billboards to trailers attached to Paranormal Activity 2. The visual effects dazzled in the PR materials, created by sibling directors and effects artists Colin and Greg Strause on a shoestring. But Skyline didn’t impress critics, who booed with a 10% rotten score. Don't expect these aliens to hang around at the multiplex for long with a D- Cinemascore. Demos on Skyline were 62/38 male to female; 58% of the audience was over 25.
After rallying the fall with a number of franchise titles, Paramount dropped the ball with the J.J. Abrams production Morning Glory. Their intentions were smart: There aren’t any choices at the multiplex for women. This rom-com/career comedy tweener misfired, much like The Switch and You Again. Morning Glory came off as a low-rent version of Devil Wears Prada in its trailers; they share DNA as Glory’s screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna adapted that bestselling novel. Critics weren’t caffeinated by Morning Glory: they gave it a 56% rotten, but older women (72% of the crowd, 89% over 25) were more forgiving with a B Cinemascore, which suggests that they were pulled by older stars Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton. Chalk this one up to mixed-message muddled marketing.
This only goes to prove that actress-on-the-rise Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes, Time Traveler's Wife, Notebook), who ably carries the picture, is not yet a marquee draw. Supporting actor Ford may be a cinema icon, but outside the Indiana Jones franchise, he has yet to find his groove in such studio fare as Extraordinary Measures ($12.1 million) and Crossing Over ($456,000). Here’s hoping that Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens resuscitates him.
The top ten films are as follows:
1. Megamind (Paramount/DreamWorks Animation): $30.1 million down 35% in its second weekend at 3,949 theaters. $7,611 theater average. Domestic total: $89.8 million.
2. Unstoppable (Fox): $23.5 million in its first weekend at 3,207 theaters. $7,328 theater average. Domestic total: $23.5 million.
3. Due Date (Warner Bros.): $15.5 million down 52% in its second weekend at 3,365 theaters. $4,615 theater average. Domestic total: $59 million.
4. Skyline (Universal/Rogue): $11.7 million in its first weekend at 2,880 theaters. $4,055 theater average. Domestic total: $11.7 million.
5. Morning Glory (Paramount): $9.6 million in its first weekend at 2,518 theaters. $3822 theater average. Domestic total: $12.2 million in its first five days.
6. For Colored Girls (Lionsgate): $6.75 million down 65% in its second weekend at 2,127 theaters. $3,173 theater average. Domestic total: $30.9 million.
7. Red (Summit): $5.1 million down 41% in its fifth weekend at 2,878 theaters. $1,777 theater average. Domestic total: $79.8 million.
8. Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount): $3.05 million down 57% in its fourth weekend at 2,403 theaters. $1,269 theater average. Domestic total: $82 million.
9. Saw 3D (Lionsgate): $2.75 million down 64% in its third weekend at 1,976 theaters. $1,390 theater average. Domestic total: $43.5 million.
10. Jackass 3D (Paramount): $2.3 million down 54% in its fifth weekend at 1,607 theaters. $1,431 theater average. Domestic total: $114.7 million.