This weekend Adam Sandler and Tom Cruise hit the multiplexes with their newest summer offerings, but neither was able to topple the 3D animated smash Toy Story 3 which topped the North American box office for a second frame in a row. Sandler won the runner-up spot with a strong debut for his latest comedy Grown Ups while Cruise struggled with his action-comedy Knight and Day which posted only moderate results in third place.
Disney and Pixar easily held onto the box office crown for a second straight weekend as Toy Story 3 captured an estimated $59M in ticket sales in its sophomore frame, according to estimates. The 3D toon’s drop of 47% was large, but was still the lowest of any film in the top ten. The cume to date rose to a stellar $226.6M after just ten days, the best start ever for any Pixar film. With kids out of school for summer vacation and the busy Fourth of July holiday coming up, Toy Story 3 may just surge to the $400M mark making it the one to beat this year for all other blockbusters.
The animation studio’s last film Up, also a 3D pic with extra high ticket prices, soared to $137.2M in its first ten days which accounted for 47% of the eventual $293M domestic total. Ten-day shares for previous June releases from Pixar include 57% for WALL-E , 53% for Ratatouille, and 48% for Cars. For WALL-E and Ratatouille, Independence Day holiday business fell within the first ten days leading to the higher shares. Later this week, Toy Story 3 will surpass the $245.8M of Toy Story 2 and later will fly past the $339.7M of Finding Nemo to become Pixar’s top grosser ever, but is unlikely to match the fish flick’s 56 million tickets sold.
Adam Sandler returned to his safe zone and landed the fourth best opening of his career with the broad comedy Grown Ups which bowed to an estimated $41M. Sony released the PG-13 pic in 3,534 locations and averaged a strong $11,602 per site. The reunion laugher co-starring Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Salma Hayek opened almost exactly like some previous Sandler films that featured little to no extra starpower. The comedian’s only bigger debuts were $47.6M for 2005’s The Longest Yard, $42.2M for 2003’s Anger Management, and $41.5M for Big Daddy which sold about 50% more tickets when it opened this very weekend eleven years ago.
As usual, reviews were terrible for Grown Ups. However these Sandler vehicles are not made to impress critics, but to give moviegoers interested in low-brow humor a few chuckles as they escape the aggravations of everyday life. Budgeted at under $80M, the film skewed younger and more female despite being centered around men approaching middle age. Studio research showed that 53% of the crowd was female and 52% was under 25. Sandler saw his impressive streak of seven consecutive years with $100M+ blockbusters come to an end last year with his Judd Apatow project Funny People which bombed grossing just $51.9M overall. The funnyman’s summer comedies usually end up tripling their opening weekend figures so Grown Ups should have no problem reaching nine-digit territory.
Coming in third for the weekend were Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz who pulled in an estimated $20.5M for their new secret agent pic Knight and Day. The Fox release averaged a decent but not stellar $6,617 per theater from 3,098 playdates. Since its Wednesday launch, the PG-13 film has grossed $27.8M. Despite today’s higher ticket prices, Knight delivered the second lowest opening for Cruise over the last decade faring better than only the $6.7M of 2007’s Lions For Lambs.
Given that it returned Hollywood’s former most bankable star to the type of action hero role audiences have always liked, and that it boasted additional starpower from the well-liked Diaz who can do action and comedy with the greatest of ease, the turnout was soft. Reviews were mixed but generally not too bad. Still, audience excitement was never too high for this movie. Fox is hoping that good word-of-mouth will carry the film forward since Knight is not a sequel or a franchise pic so it was never expected to have huge upfront demand. The $100M+ budgeted film may have been hurt by following a string of star-driven action-comedies like Killers, The A-Team, Date Night, and The Bounty Hunter. A bad title didn’t help either.
Sony’s hit remake The Karate Kid fell 49% in its third round taking in an estimated $15.4M. The Jaden Smith fight flick has banked an impressive $135.6M and could be headed for the $175M mark beating the $162.6M of the young actor’s debut film The Pursuit of Happyness opposite his father Will Smith.
The A-Team fell 58% in its third weekend to an estimated $6M pushing its 17-day tally to a mediocre $62.8M for Fox. Universal’s comedy Get Him to the Greek grossed an estimated $3M, off 51%, raising Universal’s cume to $54.5M. Close behind with an estimated $2.9M was the 3D sequel Shrek Forever After which dropped 49% for a $229.3M total.
Down 50%, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time took in an estimated $2.8M and lifted its domestic tally to $86.2M. The assassin comedy Killers followed in ninth place with $2M, down a troubling 60%, giving Lionsgate $44M to date. The Warner Bros. megaflop Jonah Hex collapsed by 70% grossing an estimated $1.6M for a lousy $9.1M in ten days.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $154.2M which was down 19% from last year when Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opened in the top spot with $109M; and down 13% from 2008 when WALL-E debuted at number one with $63.1M.
Written by Gitesh Pandya of Box Office Guru.