Parents will seriously drop their kids off at anything if it means an hour and a half of peace and fucking quiet, so it appears from the $60 million haul from this weekend’s Despicable Me. I don’t say that because Despicable Me is a bad movie — our review arrives tomorrow, and it’s doing well over on the Tomatometer. I say it because how could parents know? I’ve seen half a dozen spots for Despicable Me and I have no clue what it’s about. Indeed, few of the spots even feature Steve Carell, and I probably wouldn’t have known he was in it at all had he not been pimping the movie on the talk show circuit all week. I very much doubt parents knew much more other than it was animated, that it was in 3D, and that their children probably wouldn’t nag them for a few minutes. Good enough, apparently. Indeed, that $60 million opening represents the first breakout hit for Universal Studios since Mamma Mia, back in the summer of 2008. It’s also the second biggest opening ever for a non-Pixar, original animated film. Maybe that will help to restore Hollywood’s faith in original properties.
It’s a good thing, however, that Despicable Me didn’t turn out to be a 3D animated film about a child molester, but you could bet that — if the marketing campaign was vague enough — even that sort of film would rack up $20 million before parents realized how badly they’d traumatized their children.
More evidence that no one gives a shit how good a 3D film is as long as it’s in 3D? Avatar: The Last Airbender came in 5th, adding nearly another $18 million and crossing the $100 million mark in 11 days. That’s $100 million worth of really pissed off moviegoers, I expect, who might be less inclined to watch a 3D movie in the future. Maybe there is a silver lining in Airbender if it helps to eventually kill 3D technology.
The second place movie of the weekend, however, was The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which added another $33 million in its second weekend, bringing its total now to $236 million, which is about in line with where New Moon was at this stage, meaning there has been very little erosion in the fanbase, largely because Summit has been shitting them out at such a fast rate of pace that the audience barely has time to get sick of it before another one appears.
Third place went to Predators, which had a solid $25 million showing, which is about in line with what it deserved, I think. Of course, if the box office of Predators tracks the movie, it’ll have 3 solid enough weeks and then fall off a cliff on the fourth week. I’d expect $70 million or so overall, which is good considering the $40 million budget. It was also the second best opening in the Predator series, behind only the first Alien vs. Predator, which opened with $38 million back in 2004 on its way to an overall $80 million take.
Fourth place went to Toy Story 3; the additional $22 million makes that movie the biggest box-office success of the year now, passing the $334 million of Alice in Wonderland. Grown Ups came in 6th place, and is now Adam Sandler’s 11th $100 million movie.
I should also note that, in limited release, The Kids Are All Right opened in 11th place, with a whopping $72,000 per theater average (in seven theaters), which I believe is the highest per screen average of the year, and the 32nd highest per-screen average of all time. That bodes well for the indie, which has also received brilliant reviews.