If this weekend’s box office numbers prove anything, teenagers love to go to the movies. Between the weekend gross and the extended openings (both ‘The Last Airbender’ and ‘Twilight’ opened BEFORE Friday), a whole bunch of money was spent at the multiplexes this weekend. Much of it was thrown at the adolescent angst of ‘Twilight,’ the adapted-from-a-Nickelodeon-series ‘The Last Airbender,’ and the adults-acting-like-children epic ‘Grown Ups.’
Surprising to precisely no one, the third entry in the beloved ‘Twilight’ saga, David Slade’s dull and dreary ‘Eclipse,’ made an obscene amount of money. It grossed $82.5 million over the weekend, to take the #1 position. With the combined midnight sales and additional days, it’s earned a whopping $175.2 million over its six days in wide release. While it failed to loop the record-breaking ‘Spider-Man 2′ July 4th holiday haul in 2004, it still made a ridiculously huge sum. (In its first day of wide release, the movie recouped its entire production budget.) Summit is probably even more sure they made the right decision to split up the fourth book into two separate movies (a la Warner Bros’ approaching for the final ‘Harry Potter’ entries). There’s still so much money to be made!
In the second place spot was M. Night Shyamalan’s atrociously horrible ‘The Last Airbender,’ a movie made for 13-year-old boys and fully grown idiots. The critical contempt for this ponderous dud was loud and proud. (The opening line of Roger Ebert’s half-star review: “The Last Airbender is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented.”) But that didn’t seem to keep moviegoers away. Is this proof that movie critics like yours truly don’t matter? Or just evidence that it was extremely hot outside and people wanted a cool place to chill for a couple of hours? Discuss! The movie made $53.1 million over the weekend and $70.5 million over the extended holiday period, which is M. Night’s best opening since ‘The Village.’ When you remember that his last two movies were ‘Lady in the Water‘ and ‘The Happening,’ that becomes a less distinguished accomplishment. While this is a pretty good number, it remains to be seen if it’s enough to keep the franchise going. (Shyamalan recently stated he’s already finished the first draft of the second movie’s script.) We’ll see if that number drops as drastically as I expect it to next weekend. And let’s not forget the built-in inflation of the 3-D racket. I didn’t see ‘Last Airbender’ in 3-D, but I’ve heard that it’s just as incomprehensibly muddy as ‘Clash of the Titans’. Ick.
‘Toy Story 3‘ came in third place with another $42.2 million over the weekend. This allows its total gross to squeak (like Wheezy) past the $300 million mark. It looks on target to eclipse the $340 million ‘Finding Nemo’ to become the highest grossing Pixar movie ever. When ‘Nemo’ was released, it was the largest grossing animated film of all time. That number was bested by one of the ‘Shrek’ sequels not-too-soon afterwards. We’ll see what kind of number ‘Toy Story 3’ ends up with, but it could be the all-time animated champ.
The rest of the Top 10 list looks a lot like last week’s. Virtually every major breadwinner (‘Grown Ups,’ ‘Knight and Day,’ ‘The Karate Kid,’ ‘The A-Team,’ ‘Get Him to the Greek,’ and ‘Shrek Forever After‘) slipped down two places to accommodate the twin titans of ‘Twilight’ and ‘Last Airbender.’
But! Something actually worth reporting! A teeny-tiny indie has broken through to the Top 10! ‘Cyrus,’ the microscopic comedy starring Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly in a never-ending cavalcade of awkward situations, broke through with a robust $1 million. As it gains more and more screens each week, one day it may even play at your local megaplex, next to the Hollywood slop that gets churned out. I say that you should take the risk, see ‘Cyrus,’ and thank me in the morning.
Next weekend, a whole bunch of interesting smaller films come out, along with another couple of biggies. ‘Despicable Me’ is a modestly budgeted 3-D animated film produced by an international team. ‘Predators’ is the newest entry in Fox’s film franchise that began with John McTiernan’s masterpiece ‘Predator‘ way back in 1987, survived the minor folly of 1990’s ‘Predator 2‘ and has since limped along in two godawful ‘Alien vs. Predator‘ films (2004 and 2007). I haven’t seen this newest predatory tale yet, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
Fourth of July Fireworks:
01 ‘Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ (Summit) – $82.5 million
02 ‘The Last Airbender’ (Paramount) – $53.1 million
03 ‘Toy Story 3’ (Disney/Pixar) – $42.2 million
04 ‘Grown Ups’ (Sony) – $26.5 million
05 ‘Knight and Day’ (F0x) – $14 million
06 ‘The Karate Kid’ (Sony) – $11.5 million
07 ‘The A-Team’ (Fox) – $4.2 million
08 ‘Get Him to the Greek’ (Universal) – $1.6 million