Following last weekend’s nightmare scenario for quality at the movies, things step up a little with the two new releases out this Friday. But then they’d have to, wouldn’t they?
Weekend Forecast for July 9-11, 2010
By Reagen Sulewski
July 8, 2010
Universal is in “try, try again” mode as far as creating an animated hit, after the (relative) failures of Curious George, The Tale of Despereaux and 9 over the last few years, hitting the theaters with its most promising offering yet, Despicable Me. Steve Carell plays a not-at-all-Dr. Evilish-just-ask-them mad scientist whose plans to steal the moon are derailed by three orphan girls who decide to adopt him as a potential father. Hey, every evil overlord needs a protégé or three.
In addition to Carell, Despicable Me has assembled a strong voice cast, including Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig and Miranda Cosgrove. Its two biggest selling points, though, are likely being in 3D, and the Minions, a group of yellow South Parky/Toy Story alieny looking things, who do a lot of the heavy lifting for comedy in the ads for the film.
The idea of turning the bad guy into the good guy isn’t that revolutionary in film, but is relatively unique as far as kids’ animated movies go. It’s also a tailor-made premise to convince adults that it’s worthwhile buying a ticket to accompany their little ones. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s been getting some of the best reviews of the year, rivaling How To Train Your Dragon’s reception, and getting within respectable talking distance of Toy Story 3.
The question then becomes, what constitutes a hit? Toy Story or some of the earlier Shrek films seem out of the question, as it’s giving off a low-key vibe, but some other films look like good comparisons. How to Train Your Dragon started slow, in the mid-40s, but has become one of the biggest hits of the year, with over $200 million in the bank domestically. Last spring’s Monsters vs. Aliens started larger, at close to $60 million, but finished lower, just shy of $200 million.
Somewhere in between those two starting figures seems likely, as we’re starting to hit a real plateau in 3D as an enticement into theaters (who had “under a year” in the pool for Hollywood killing the goose that lays the golden eggs?). Look for an even $50 million for Despicable Me in its opening weekend.
An old classic action film gets a reboot for the second film of the weekend, in Predators. The third film in this series (discounting the crap Alien vs. Predator stuff) takes the action to the Predators’ home planet, with a group of Earth’s biggest badasses (and Topher Grace) brought along to hunt. Adrien Brody, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo, Walt Goggins and Alice Braga make up the rest of the (actual) killers acting as both predator and prey.
Hungarian director Nimrod Antal takes over the helm of this film, though the more significant name is Robert Rodriguez, who produced the film and probably has more riding on this film’s success than anyone. Really, it seems tailor-made for Rodriguez’s style, assuming we get back to the feel of the first film, which was so full of manly manliness that it made Chuck Norris grow breasts. It’s doubtful that Predators can recapture that feel entirely without Ahnuld, Jesse Ventura, Shane Black or Carl Weathers, but it’s sure going to give it a try. Predators looks fun, though the franchise has suffered some loss of esteem over the last decade or so, but it may also be time for straight-up action to return (was that sentence wishy-washy enough for you?). Look for about $18 million this weekend.
Which brings us to the duo of crap from last weekend, starting with Eclipse, the third film in the Twilight series. In it, Bella, Jacob and Edward yada yada yada sparkly angst and pointless, sexless love triangles. What’s wrong with you, women? Anyhoo, while Eclipse’s weekend figure was less than half of New Moon’s debut, there’s some calendar monkey business involved. After six days of release the two films’ totals are essentially equal, and Eclipse will have reached the $200 million mark by the time you read this.
The inherently front-loaded nature of this film series remains, though. While its biggest days occurring outside the weekend will mean it won’t have the 70% drop of New Moon, Eclipse will be starting from a lower figure, and will still fall off pretty rapidly. No one gets to brag about seeing Eclipse on the second weekend. Look for around $27 million this weekend.
The Last Airbender defied the narrative laid out by critics and people hoping to see M. Night Shyamalan’s career die a quick and deserved death, opening to $40 million. Based on an animated TV series, it clearly tapped into a market of fans who were desperate to see a live-action take on their show, no matter what the cost. Cinemascore ratings were suitably horrible, though, and we’re likely headed for an epic dropoff (something Shyamalan’s no stranger to). Give it $13 million for its second weekend.
Toy Story 3 has had a couple weeks of strangely un-Pixar like legs, dropping over 45% each time. That’s a problem they may decide to worry about later, as it’s now over $300 million, and within spitting distance of Finding Nemo, the highest grossing Pixar movie to date. Animated movies are one of the few verifiable areas where competition actually shows its head, though that still only amounts to a couple of million dollars, meaning that Toy Story 3 earns $15 million instead of $17 million this weekend.
Grown Ups had a fairly predictable drop off of a little more than half, as terrible reviews caught to up Adam Sandler and company. In fact, nothing held up well last weekend, with Knight and Day dropping the least out of anything at just a little over 48%. Just another finger in the eye of Hollywood in The Worst Summer Ever.