Weekend Wrap-Up

Unstoppable, Skyline No Match for Megamind

By David Mumpower

November 14, 2010

Someone got him a nice office-warming gift.

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Three new movies were released this weekend, but North Americans gave their vote to evil once more. Make all the political jokes you want, but I’m talking about Megamind, the Doctor Horrible premise redone as a major DreamWorks Animation release. Will Ferrell’s latest blockbuster took on a new title from the Tony Scott/Denzel Washington combo as well as a science fiction flick that all but begged for comparisons to District 9 and a Broadcast News for 2010. No, this was not a weekend for originality; however, it was another demonstration that animation domination is not just for Sunday evenings on the Fox Network.

Yes, Megamind held off all comers to become the first title since The Social Network to repeat as weekend winner at the box office. The movie earned an estimated $30 million from 3,949 locations, a decline of 35% from its opening frame. The question is, “How does this stack up with other recent DreamWorks Animation holdovers?” And the answer is in the eye of the beholder. Looking at the five most recent titles from the animation house in reverse chronological order, Shrek Forever After fell 38.9%, How to Train Your Dragon declined 33.7%, Monsters vs. Aliens slid 45.0%, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa dropped 44.5% and Kung Fu Panda depreciated 44.2%.


So, Megamind falls in the range we had expected in that it’s not quite How to Train Your Dragon (though it's pretty close), but it’s also showing solid holdover appeal relative to the ordinary behavior for the studio’s releases. With a strong $89.8 million after ten days, this one is poised to show a lot of life between now and the start of 2011. I should point out that out of the half dozen DreamWorks Animation releases mentioned here, this is the lowest ten-day tally. How to Train Your Dragon had been the lowest at $92.1 million. All of the others were over $100 million by this timeframe.

In 1995, Tony Scott directed a marvelous submarine flick called Crimson Tide. The film starring Denzel Washington earned $91.4 million, the equivalent of $162 million at 2010 ticket pricing. At that point, a beautiful friendship was born between Washington and Scott. The director/actor duo have worked together on Déjà vu ($64.0 million domestic), The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 ($65.5 million), and Man on Fire ($77.9 million). Their average opening weekend in the 2000s has been $22.2 million. The weekend estimate for Unstoppable is $23.5 million. Score this round for past behavior indicating future results. Exhibited in 3,207 locations, Unstoppable has a respectable per-venue average of $7,328. The downside here is that the presence of the new Captain Kirk, Chris Pine, did not add to the bottom line any. Meanwhile, this is Washington’s second hit of the year on the heels of The Book of Eli’s $94.8 million. The upshot is that Unstoppable has earned exemplary reviews thus far, currently sitting at 87% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes with 90% of top critics giving it the thumbs up. It should at least match the mid-$60 million performances of Scott and Washington’s prior films if not surpass them.

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