Winning the weekend box office is about want-to-see. Audiences of all ages were compelled to check out Toy Story 3, which combines the magic of Pixar with beloved characters returning in a sequel that makes grown men cry. Moviegoers could wait for Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups and Tom Cruise's comeback bid Knight and Day, which try as they might, Twentieth Century Fox marketers could not turn into a must-see. Anthony D'Alessandro does the studio numbers, while Peter Knegt does the indies.
The beating sound you’re hearing as you enter the multiplex is the sound of the summer box office: it actually has its pulse back.
In its second weekend Walt Disney’s Toy Story 3 continued to dominate the top 10, raking $59 million into 4,028 toy chests – the best sophomore haul ever for a Pixar film, besting the studio’s previous second-weekend champ, The Incredibles which drew $50.3 million. Slipping a modest 47%, Toy Story 3 currently counts a running estimated 10-day cume of $226.6 million. The secret to the film's success? Its blessed word of mouth.
Even though the animated film towered over the competition, Adam Sandler and his Saturday Night Live alumni friends turned in a remarkable $41 million in second place with Sony’s PG-13 comedy Grown Ups as Fox’s Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz action vehicle Knight and Day clocked $20.5 million in the last three days.
Fox's bid to build buzz with last Saturday's sneak and a Wednesday opening didn't really work. Knight and Day's three-day weekend figure is okay for a third-place film and average for a Tom Cruise opening. But its five-day cume of $27.8 million is atrocious for a film that cost $117 million. Cruise is not the b.o. draw he once was: he has seen higher for his Wednesday releases. But Cruise films can make as low as 20% of their domestic total in the first weekend and still make it past $100 million.
While superhero sequels and actioners were one-time weekend champs, this summer so far, family films are king. For a seventh weekend in a row, a family film has rallied the top 10. This trend should change in coming weeks as such potent PG-13 titles as The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Inception and Salt arrive.
Sandler's Grown Ups may have taken second place, but the weekend haul for the raunchy male comedy continues to underscore the star's Teflon ability to open a film 15 years after leaving Saturday Night Live. This is a track record that former legendary SNL stars turned comedy kings like Chevy Chase and Bill Murray can’t even claim. For a while, it appeared as though Sandler was losing his touch at the B.O. as his openings slid from $40 million with 2006’s Click to $22.7 million last summer with Funny People.
Grown Ups is Sandler’s sixth title to gross more than $40 million in its first frame. Sony marketers sold Grown Ups’ as a family-friendly comedy, despite its PG-13 rating, via posters and trailers of Sandler and friends frolicking at a water park with their children. Much as the studio leaned on Justin Bieber in tub-thumping Karate Kid, so the studio promoed Kevin James and his co-stars on the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. Sports bookings were an essential component of the film’s PR strategy, with interviews of Sandler and co. running as spots during the NBA Finals, Superbowl and Nascar events.
Grown Ups’ Cinemascore for audiences 18 and younger: A-. And 52% of those laughing at Grown Ups were under 25, 48% older, with 47% male and 53% female. With a budget of $80 million, Grown Ups should wind up in the black. Comedies are resistant to critical reception, so it doesn’t matter that the Sandler comedy scored a rotten Tomatometer of 10%.
After this weekend, clearly one-time matinee idols Cruise and Cameron Diaz are clearly going grey at the box office. Is the poor performance of Knight and Day about millennials' disinterest in movie stars, the continued backlash against Cruise (years after his couch-jumping and Scientology videos) or widespread criticism that the film was too formulaic – its Tomatometer rating was 53% rotten? Cruise did work overtime in promoting the film and restored some favor with twentysomethings with the MTV Movie Awards--but that was Tropic Thunder character Les Grossman. The film's CinemaScore was B+ with an A- for those under 25.
Knight and Day proved to be a solid date movie with a male/female 50/50 split. Friday grosses spiked 80% over Thursday and another 27% over Friday. Fox is crossing its fingers that Knight and Day shows strength when it opens overseas after the World Cup, and boasts b.o. legs like other Cruise films. Otherwise, Fox will continue to count some sorry summer returns, along with previous misfires The A-Team, which counts a current domestic take of $62.8 million, and Marmaduke, with $30 million.
The Top Ten films are as follows:
1. Toy Story 3 (Disney/Pixar): $59 million in its second weekend down 47% at 4,028 theaters. $14,647 theater average. Domestic total: $226.55 million.
2. Grown Ups (Sony): $41 million in its first weekend at 3,534 theaters. $11,602 theater average. Domestic total: $41 million.
3. Knight and Day (Fox): $20.5 million in its first weekend at 3,098 theaters. $6,617 theater average. Domestic total: $27.8 million in its first five days.
4. The Karate Kid (Sony): $15.4 million in its third weekend down 48% at 3,740 theaters. $4,118 theater average. Domestic total: $135.6 million.
5. The A-Team (Fox): $6 million in its third weekend down 58% at 3,242 theaters. $1,851 theater average. Domestic total: $62.8 million.
6. Get Him to the Greek (Lionsgate): $3 million in its fourth weekend down 51% at 2,189 theaters. $1,375 theater average. Domestic total: $54.5 million.
7. Shrek Forever After (Paramount/DreamWorks Animation): $2.875 million in its sixth weekend down 49% at 2,340 theaters. $1,229 theater average. Domestic total: $229.3 million.
8. Prince of Persia (Disney): $2.8 million in its fifth weekend down 50% at 1,851 theaters. $1,513 theater average. Domestic total: $86.2 million.
9. Killers (Lionsgate): $2 million down 60% in its fourth weekend at 2,271 theaters. $880 theater average. Domestic total: $44 million.
10. Jonah Hex (Warner Bros.): $1.6 million in its second weekend down 70% at 2825 theaters. $566 theater average. Domestic total: $9.1 million.