Inside Pulse Box Office Report: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Last Airbender, Toy Story 3

“Anybody got a T-shirt I can wear? I can’t promise you that you’ll get it back in one piece.”

Waking up on the fifth of July, teenage girls were saddened when they discovered that Taylor Lautner’s washboard abs were not enough to topple Spider-Man 2‘s Independence Day record weekend of $88 million. But it was just enough for Eclipse to finish as the third-best performer on Independence Day weekend with $69 million. With a record-breaking 4,468-screen opening, each location was making an estimated $15,443 which is a pretty healthy number. Having matched its production budget on opening day – breaking the midnight screening record in the process – the movie’s numbers have tapered off a bit. Which is expected. All the Twilight movies are total frontloaders when it comes to pulling in money. Then after the girls get their visual fix of Edward and Jacob on the big screen, they’ll turn their attention to some other Tiger Beat pin-up. One week it’s Robert Pattinson, the next week it’s Justin Beiber.

Comparatively, this holiday weekend is no match for its predecessor, New Moon, which brought in $143 million for its opening weekend. But it opened in the fall on a Friday, where this is a Wednesday opening in the summer. Considering the low budgets, when weighed against other summer blockbusters, the movie’s overall take of $161 million in five days is astounding. Factoring in the truckloads of cash Summit Entertainment spent on marketing, and you’re probably looking at a movie that’s already recouped its costs and is working on bankrolling the studio for future endeavors. Summit needs all the help it can get. Yes, it has the Twilight franchise, but with two more films guaranteed, the studio needs to think about the future. While a Best Picture winner (The Hurt Locker) is a nice feather in the cap for the young production house, it wasn’t really a box-office success. After the Twilight movies its highest-grossing feature is Nicolas Cage in Knowing, which made $183.5 million worldwide.

It’s a shame that Paramount couldn’t use the Avatar portion in what was supposed to be its huge summertime blockbuster, The Last Airbender, it probably would have helped its box office fate. I take that back. Bad reviews, including one from us, and a competitive marketplace prevented the M. Night Shyamalan film from making more than $40.7 million. That’s including 3-D showings. With more than $280 million invested in the production and marketing of Airbender you can bet that the suits were none too pleased at its opening. With the claim of racism and M. Night’s track record for movies after the release of Signs back in 2002 I’d be worried too. Bad word of mouth will kill any momentum on the domestic side, so if a sequel was to get the greenlight, it would depend mostly on its performance on a global scale.

In its third week, Toy Story 3 continues to chug along; no signs of its batteries draining anytime soon. A $30.2 million weekend brings its cumulative take to $289 million. With that number it has eclipsed the previous entries. Though, if you were to remove the 3-D ticket prices and adjust for inflation, the numbers would change quite a bit. Sitting pretty at #3 the opening of Despicable Me with characters voiced by the likes of Steve Carell and Will Arnett is sure to take away from Toy Story 3‘s box office performance, but I look for this one to be a staple of the top 10 at least until the end of July.

Grown Ups drops to fourth place by adding another $18.5 million to its total. This will assuredly strengthen the bonds of Columbia Pictures and Happy Madison. So that means even if there’s a stinker like Strange Wilderness on the horizon, at least an Adam Sandler comedy vehicle will put butts in the seats. Knight and Day drops to fifth in its second week with $10.2 million. Not a total disaster, but with a $112 million budget, 20th Century Fox better hope that Tom Cruise’s worldwide appeal is still there. While Jayden Smith may not perform The Crane in The Karate Kid remake, the film itself has broken the $150 million mark with another $8 million. Not bad for a karate movie where everybody’s Kung-fu fighting.

The A-Team, Get Him to the Greek and Shrek Forever After are still hanging in there at spots 7, 8, and 9, but two of those should be gone with the release of Despicable Me and Predators this weekend.

While 20th Century Fox is none to happy with Knight and Day‘s performance, its Oscar-bait wing, Fox Searchlight, is happy that the dark comedy, Cyrus, starring John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, and Jonah Hill made it into the top ten with $770,000. It may not seem like much, but it was achieved on a small rollout of 77 screens, so $10,000 per screen.

Over on the arthouse theater side of the movie spectrum, pickings were slim with only one new release, Taylor Hackford’s Love Ranch. Distributed by E1, the film opened on 11 screens and only made $49,500. Winter’s Bone added 13 screens over the weekend and added another $442,000 to its total. Reviews touting Jennifer Lawrence’s performance seem to be paying off. Also making the box-office list in some capacity was Best Worst Movie. One of Robert Saucedo’s favorite films of 2009 brought in $3,400 at one location.

1. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse – $69 million ($161 million overall)
2. The Last Airbender – $40.6 million ($57 million overall)
3. Toy Story 3 – $30.2 million ($289 million overall)
4. Grown Ups – $18.5 million ($77 million overall)
5. Knight and Day – $10.2 million ($45.5 million overall)
6. The Karate Kid – $8 million ($151.5 million overall)
7. The A-Team- $3 million ($69.1 million overall)
8. Get Him to the Greek – $1.2 million ($57.4 million overall)
9. Shrek Forever After- $799,000 ($232 million overall)
10. Cyrus – $770,000 ($1.5 million overall)

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