Studio estimates overstated across the board, with “Eclipse” ($31.7M) and “Predators” ($24.8M) also overshooting the mark
It was a good weekend at the domestic box office … but not that good.
Monday actuals revealed a number of key over-estimations of weekend totals, with — most notably — the No. 1 film, Universal's "Despicable Me" overshooting the mark by $3.7 million. The animated 3D film's final tally was $56.4 million.
Summit also estimated high by $1.7 million on "Twilight Saga: Eclipse," with the film's actuals totalling $31.7 million.
Fox, meanwhile, was $500,000 too high for "Predators," with that film coming in at $24.8 million.
A lot went better than expected at the weekend box office, starting with the huge overperformance of Universal's animated 3D film "Despicable Me," which grosssed an estimated $60.1 million.
The tally exceeded tracking projections by about $20 million, with "Despicable" — the first film spawned from a multi-movie partnership between Universal, Relativity, and Chris Meledandri's Illumination Entertainment — getting an A grade from movie customer satisfaction researcher CinemaScore.
The PG-rated computer-animated film, which voice-stars Steve Carell, and was produced for $69 million, now appears poised for franchise extension.
"The stars were aligned on this one," said Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco. "We had incredible synergy from the entire studio, particularly with the promotional support of NBC Universal, and we got help from (tie-in) partners like I-Hop and Best Buy. Plus, people love the movie."
Finishing a distant second, Summit Entertainment's second "Twilight" movie, "Eclipse," dropped a better-than-expected 49 percent from its premiere weekend, grossing $33.4 million while bringing its two-week domestic total to $237 million.
The second "Twilight" movie, last November's "New Moon" dropped 70 percent in its second weekend.
In third place, Fox's "Predators" — an extension of the studio's two-decade-old hunters-from-space sci-fi/action franchise — grossed a better-than-expected $25.3 million.
Produced by Robert Rodriguez and starring Adrien Brody, the movie was shot for $38 million.
In fourth place, Disney/Pixar's "Toy Story 3" — which managed to hold on to over 2,000 3D locations, despite strong competition for this scarce resource — dropped only around 25 percent to $22 million in its fourth weekend. The film has now grossed $340.2 million.
In fifth place, Paramount's 3D-converted "Last Airbender" dropped nearly 60 percent, taking in $17.2 million. The $150 million M. Night Shyamalan family film did narrowly pass $100 million in domestic revenue, however.
Coming in sixth, Sony Adam Sandler comedy "Grown Ups" also passed the century mark, dropping just 13 percent in week three to $16 million. The film has grossed $111.3 million domestically, becoming Sandler's 11th movie to pass $100 million in the last 12 years.
In seventh place, Fox Tom Cruise action film "Knight and Day" dropped 27 percent to $7.8 million, giving it $61.9 million after three weekends in the U.S. and Canada.
Produced for $107 million, the film — widely derided for its marketing plan — could become narrowly profitable with foreign distribution.
Overall, the domestic box office was up nearly 40 percent over the same weekend last year, according to one studio's figures. That 2009 weekend featured Sacha Baron Cohen comedy "Bruno" getting off to a strong Friday start for Universal, then cratering the rest of the weekend.
Things are a little better for Universal this time around, with "Despicable Me" also grossing $5 million in four foreign markets that included Russia, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
Just a few weeks ago, tracking for "Despicable Me" appeared soft, with consumer awareness of the film registering in the single digits. But fortunes perked up dramatically for the film in the last week.
"The tracking several weeks ago wasn't great," Rocco conceded. "With 'Toy Story 3,' 'Airbender' and 'Twilight' all in the marketplace at the same time, maybe we weren't seeing accurate numbers. After (those movie premieres) got behind us, the tracking popped tremendously."
Also performing well for Universal this weekend: Indie film "The Kids Are All Right," which was picked up by the studio's Focus division at Sundance earlier this year for $5 million, grossed $508,000 this weekend playing in only seven theaters.
Here's how the top 10 at the domestic box office shaped up this weekend:
"Despicable Me" ($60.1m)
"Twilight Saga: Eclipse" ($33.4m)
"Toy Story 3" ($22.0m)
"The Last Airbender" ($17.2m)
"Grown Ups" ($16.4m)
"Knight and Day" ($7.8m)
"Karate Kid" ($5.7m)
"The A-Team" ($1.8m)