Hollywood is no doubt buzzing about the impressive and surprising $60.1 million weekend for Universal Studios’ “Despicable Me,” but bigger questions surround another of the weekend’s debuts, “Predators.”
Budgeted for a reasonable $38 million, the Robert Rodriguez-produced Sci-Fi flick scored $25.3 million in its first weekend. While that gross would normally be considered solid, the film dropped from its Friday $10.4 million debut to only $8.4 million on Saturday. Unless it’s a horror movie, that’s usually eye-brow raising and a sign a film has a very short shelf life. 20th Century Fox will have to hope the well-received action picture develops good word of mouth throughout the week or strong international grosses if it hopes to create a new franchise. What’s most troubling is that the Friday figure is a sign there was a core audience waiting for another “Predator” movie, but that Fox was unable to market it to other audiences. This would be the third disappointing opening in a row for the studio after “The A-Team” and “Knight and Day.” The studio has gotten by on one hit here, one bomb there for years, but this string may be a sign a serious shake up is in order in the marketing department.
As for “Despicable Me,” the summer’s first surprise hit found the no. 1 slot with even with two other major releases splitting the limited 3-D screens available; “The Last Airbender” and “Toy Story 3.” It also beat the 3-D debut of “How To Train Your Dragon” ($43.3 million) and basically matched “Clash of the Titans” ($61 million). Champagne should be popping in Universal City on Monday morning and not just because of the new animated blockbuster. Sister studio Focus Features debuted “The Kids Are All Right” on seven screens to an incredible $504,000 or a $72,000 per screen average. Summer not only has its first surprise hit, but it’s first breakout indie hit.
In the third slot was “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” with another $33.4 million and a new total of $237 million. Whether the third installment of the “Twilight” franchise can hit $300 million remains to be seen. Why the box office has slowed down so dramatically for “Eclipse” compared to “New Moon” is unclear. Could the summer find too many distractions for the film’s core audience? Is less than 12 months between each film too much “Twilight” to take for the casual fan? Summit will need to do some research before deciding when to slot the currently unscheduled “Breaking Dawn, Part 2.” The first “Breaking Dawn” won’t hit theaters until Nov. 2011.
Fourth found “Toy Story 3” with another $22 million and a new domestic cume of $340.2 million. The magic $400 million mark seems inevitable at this point for the Pixar wonder.
“The Last Airbender” dropped almost 60%, but still crossed the $100 million mark with a weekend take of $17.1 million. However, whether M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of the Nickelodeon TV series deserves a second installment still remains to be seen.
Next weekend the critically acclaimed “Inception” opens nationwide and on IMAX screens. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” makes a mid-week debut on Wednesday.
Final box office actuals are released on Monday.