The fact that Pixar would take number one this weekend with its tenth feature release, “Up”, was never in question. The Disney-based studio has built a reputation for quality and success that has stood unchallenged for over a decade. The only real question for “Up”, the first of Pixar’s toons to be released in 3D, was how high it would soar. The film’s cranky old man protagonist was a potential stumbling block as was the continued presence of the similarly family-geared “Night at the Museum” sequel. So how did “Up” fare? With $68 million over its first three days, the animated adventure bested Pixar’s $63 million take for “Wall-E” in 2008 and came within spitting distance of the $70 million starts from the studio’s top two earners – 2004′s “The Incredibles” and 2003′s “Finding Nemo”.
|2||Night at the Museum 2||$25,500,000||$105,296,000|
|3||Drag Me to Hell||$16,628,000||$16,628,000|
|6||Angels & Demons||$4,900,000||$104,760,000|
|8||X-Men Origins: Wolverine||$3,900,000||$170,870,000|
|9||Ghosts of Girlfriends Past||$1,900,000||$50,015,000|
Things kept looking up for “Up” as the weekend progressed. Early studio estimates of an opening weekend in the $50-$55 million range were revised to over $60 million after matinee numbers from the film’s 3,766 theatres began tracking high. 1,534 of those theatres carried the film in 3D – a record-setting debut for the format. The “Up” totals were no doubt helped by the slightly-inflated ticket prices 3D commands and by Sunday the film was tracking an impressive $18,000 per-screen average.
Our first runner-up this weekend was “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”. In its second week the Fox feature saw a near 53% drop – but with a Memorial Day opening over $54 million, that was still good enough for a $25.5 total for a second place finish. At this point, the “Night at the Museum” sequel is tracking below its predecessor which came in above $115 million over the same 10 day period back in December of 2006. Hampered by the ascendancy of “Up”, one more weekend in the $20 million range is probably the most Fox can hope for from this “Night”.
Third place goes to Sam Raimi’s counter-programming option “Drag Me to Hell”. The supernatural thriller from Universal played a bit under expectations with a weekend total of $16.6 million from 2,508 bookings. That number was good enough to knock “Terminator Salvation” down to #4 in its second week but not quite good enough to beat “The Strangers” – which surprised almost everyone by opening on this week last year to more than $20 million. “Drag Me to Hell” does have the advantage of being the only ‘horror’ movie currently floating in a sea of family fare so it may find sturdier legs over the coming week.
At only number four in its second week, McG’s “Terminator Salvation” continues to disappoint. Now playing in an additional 72 venues, Warner Brothers saw its franchise hopes sink over 62% from that already less-than-stellar Memorial Day debut of 455 million. In fact this is looking less like a “disappointment” and more like a mind-blowing disaster for all interested parties.
Moving from the woeful to the sublime, we find JJ Abrams’ successful revamp of a classic franchise property – “Star Trek”. On Friday Paramount saw its revenue climb above the $200 million mark – the first film of 2009 to reach that figure. Tack on the $92 million “Star Trek” has drummed up overseas and you get a total over $300 million as of Sunday. And I say it couldn’t have happened to a nicer blockbuster!