With summer 2010 so clearly dominated by reboots and sequels, it’s nice to see an original concept rise to the top for a change. Even with Toy Story 3 and The Last Airbender still out there occupying those precious 3D screens, Universal’s 3D animated Despicable Me exceeded most projections by taking first place this weekend with an estimated $60.1 million.
|2||Twilight Saga: Eclipse||$33,400,000||$237|
|4||Toy Story 3||$22,000,000||$340.2|
|5||The Last Airbender||$17,150,000||$100.2|
|7||Knight & Day||$7,850,000||$61.9|
|8||The Karate Kid||$5,700,000||$164.6|
With the availability of 3D venues as tight as ever, Universal managed to secure just 1,551 3D sites out of 3,476 for their PG-rated Despicable Me. That means that more than half of the film’s $60.1 million was earned the old-fashioned way: without a 30% surcharge for funny glasses. Though the studio has no reason to be ashamed of last month’s Get Him to the Greek (a slow starter that is currently closing on $60 million domestically), they haven’t had a breakout hit since Mamma Mia! took on The Dark Knight in July of 2008.
The film’s $60 million-plus was on par with the debut of 2009’s Monsters Vs. Aliens and well above this year’s original 3D breakout How to Train Your Dragon. Universal can probably thank their weeks of clever minion-centric advertising for this Despicable success story. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the film has also received some pretty great reviews; but I think that, after the windfall granted last week’s, er… poorly-received The Last Airbender, quality ultimately counts for very little when 3D entertainment is the goal.
Speaking of Shyamalan’s shame, Airbender fell an estimated 57% on its second weekend. Once again, I expected a more precipitous drop for the worst-reviewed release of the summer, which leads me back to the whole “quality don’t mean squat” argument. After 11 days, the film can now claim a total domestic gross of over $100 million. That is nothing to sneeze at, but is it enough to justify Shymalan’s plans for that second and third installment?
The week’s other holdover (yes, it took me three paragraphs to get to Eclipse. I am currently experiencing Twilight fatigue) The Twilight Saga: Eclipse brought in an additional $33.4 million on its second weekend, a drop of 49% over last week’s $64.8 million three-day total. Though a 49% decline is pretty standard, in the case of a fan-driven, front-loaded pic like Eclipse, that hold is another newsworthy feat. Last November New Moon dropped 70% on its second weekend. So, hey! There’s something part three has over its overachieving sibling!
Another overachiever can be found in the number three spot. Director Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of the Schwarzenegger classic Predators brought in an estimated $25.3 million from its 2,661 theatres. That may not seem that extraordinary but, considering the crowded field of competitors, the fact that Adrien Brody’s last creature role, Splice, has yet to break $17 million and that Rodriguez brought Predators in for only $38 million, I’d say that $25 million qualifies as an overachievement.
I’m sure I need not remind you that next Friday Chris Nolan returns with the much-anticipated Inception. Before we can get to the mind-bending goodness, however, we will have to get through Wednesday and the much-less anticipated return of Nic Cage in Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I am totally impartial and am looking forward to both films in equal measure. I swear.