Overall domestic market was up 16% over the holiday weekend, as “Twilight” sequel and Shyamalan film both exceed tracking; Disney/Pixar's “Toy Story 3” passes the $300M mark
Let's do this again soon.
That was the emphatic message sent over the Fourth of the July holiday weekend to Summit Entertainment and Paramount Pictures, which both received all the empirical box-office data they'll ever need to extend their respective "Twilight" and "Last Airbender" franchises.
"Yeah, that's happening," quipped Richie Fay, distribution chief for Summit, which saw "Twilight Saga: Eclipse" finish its first six days in the domestic market with an estimated $175.3 million. That performance narrowly missed the $180.1 six-day debut record set in 2004 by Sony's "Spider-Man 2," which premiered on a Thursday before a Fourth-of-July Sunday.
"Eclipse" also led the four-day Fourth of July holiday box office with $82.5 million. Internationally, the film's cumulative total stands at $200.3 million.
Of course, a fourth "Twilight" is a total no-brainer for Summit, which has already mobilized director Bill Condon to set up fourth installment "Breaking Dawn – Part 1" for November 2011.
For its part, however, Paramount was waiting for a sign to extend the M. Night Shyamalan-directed family action film "The Last Airbender" into a multi-parter. And the studio probably got what it needed this weekend, with the film culminating its first five days of domestic release with an estimated $70.5 million through Monday.
Over the four-day holiday weekend, "Airbender" tallied $53.2 million to finish in second place amid an overall box office that was up about 16 percent from the same weekend last year, according to studio estimates.
Not bad for a film that was despised by nearly every critic in America.
Paramount has yet to confirm a sequel order.
Among holdovers, Disney/Pixar's "Toy Story 3" continued to lead the pack, despite the fact that it lost much of its 3D exhibition to "Airbender."
"Toy Story 3" finished the four-day holiday weekend with an estimated $42.2 million, giving it a total domestic gross of $301 million after three weeks.
With the bulk of its international release coming post-World Cup, meanwhile, "Toy Story 3" has grossed $153.2 million in 34 territories covering only 37 percent of foreign markets.
Finishing in fourth place, Sony's "Grown Ups" added $26.5 million over the four-day holiday to a domestic gross that has now exceeded $85 million.
And in fifth place, Fox's "Knight and Day" grossed $14 million, giving the well-reviewed yet commerically challenged $107 million Tom Cruise movie nearly $50 million after almost two weeks of North American release.
With moviegoing dropping significantly on the Fourth of July Sunday, with the consuming public content to go to barbeques and watch fireworks, box office estimates are factoring in a general uptick on Monday, which is a holiday for many workplaces.
For his part, Summit's Fay said it is entirely possible that "Eclipse" could exceed its Monday projection, and thus end up beating out "Spider-Man 2" for the six-day record.
In 2004, "Spider-Man 2," for example, spiked 26 percent on the Monday following the Fourth of July Sunday.
"It's a bit unpredictable," Fay noted.
Working in "Eclipse's" favor this time around has been increased participation among male audience members, who tallied 35 percent of the audience compared to just 20 percent for part two "Twilight" installment "New Moon."
"I think that was because the trailers were a little more action-oriented this time," said Fay, who also noted that being in 193 IMAX theaters also helped ease the gender differential.
Here's how the top 10 shaped up over the four-day holiday:
"Twilight Saga: Eclipse" ($82.5m)
"The Last Airbender" ($53.2m)
"Toy Story 3" ($42.2m)
"Grown Ups" ($26.5m)
"Knight and Day" ($14m)
"Karate Kid" ($11.5m)
"The A-Team" ($4.3m)
"Get Him to the Greek" ($1.7m)
"Shrek Forever After" ($1.3m)