It was the best weekend for Universal Pictures in at least 15 months, with animated 3D family film "Despicable Me" way outperforming pre-release projections with a box-office-leading $56.4 million, and Focus Features Sundance pick-up "The Kids Are All Right" grossing more than $500,000 at only seven theaters.
In a conglomerate-wide letter this morning, obtained by TheWrap, NBC Universal president-CEO Jeff Zucker declared that the company is now "firing on all cylinders," delivering specific shout-outs to Universal Studios president-COO Ron Meyer, Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson, co-chair Donna Langley and vice chairman/COO Rick Finkelstein.
Chris Meledandri, who heads the Universal-co-owned shop that delivered "Despicable Me," Illumination Entertainment, also gets singled out.
Here's the memo:
I just wanted to take a moment this morning to congratulate Universal Pictures on the smashing success it enjoyed this weekend. "Despicable Me," Universal's first animated film from its new family-entertainment studio, grossed more than $60 million this weekend, and is, by far, the #1 movie in America. This was one of the biggest openings ever for Universal Pictures. It's a wonderful triumph for the entire Universal Pictures team, and the beginning of an exciting new era for the film division.
The success of "Despicable Me" could not have happened without the incredible commitment of every division of NBC Universal. Everyone pitched in to ensure this film's success. This was synergy as its very best, a true hallmark of this company today.,
It should also be noted that Universal's Focus Features also enjoyed an extraordinary weekend, with the limited release of its new film, "The Kids Are All Right." There hasn't been a better reviewed movie this year, and its per-screen average this weekend was the highest of any film this year.
A very heartfelt congratulations to Ron Meyer, Adam Fogelson, Donna Langley, Rick Finkelstein and everyone at Universal Pictures, as well as to Chris Meledandri, who is the vision behind Despicable Me and Illumination Entertainment.
The fact is, it has been an incredibly exciting summer for the whole company. We are firing on all cylinders these days, and it's evident everywhere. Right now:
· NBC Universal has the #1 Movie in America - "Despicable Me"
· NBC Universal has the #1 Television Show in America - "America's Got Talent" on NBC
· NBC Universal has the #1 and #2 Cable Television Shows in America - "Royal Pains" and "Burn Notice" on USA
· NBC Universal has the #1 and #2 new Theme Park Attractions in America - "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" and "King Kong 360 3D."
That's a tremendous accomplishment, unrivaled anywhere else. And a credit to the great creative expertise across the company. It doesn't happen by accident, and it's only a slice of the great success we're enjoying at NBC Universal. Our enduring strength in cable, both entertainment and news, and throughout our news, information and sports properties, continues.
Congratulations to everyone. These are exciting times. I hope you continue to enjoy the summer.