Inside Pulse Box Office Report: Megamind Shows CGI Dominance, Unstoppable Opens Strong

When it comes to box office, a film’s overall merit is inconsequential to success, it would seem. The key ingredient is timing the release. A film could have 3-D, no 3-D, be heavy on CGI or low on CGI, have an ensemble of A-list stars or a bunch of scrubs from TV, if it is packaged to sell with a concept people can understand from watching a trailer and has a nice release window, it can be a hit.

The week after Megamind had a $45 million-plus opening, it faced competition with three new wide releases. Considering that DreamWorks Animation has been plugging the movie for months on Nickelodeon – where kids have been eating it up as if it were Apple Jacks – was there any doubt that it could repeat as number one? DreamWorks has hit on a formula that works for them. Open a movie in spring (How to Train Your Dragon, for example) then have the DVD and Blu-ray releases come out weeks prior to opening another animated movie (in this case, Megamind). While the film lacks Dragon‘s praise, you can bet it will be a hit overseas. However, when the new Harry Potter is released Megamind will lose its core audience and see a drop in performance because of it.

Another year, another Tony Scott and Denzel Washington train movie. Unstoppable could be looked at as an underperformer. With a $100 million budget, it will have a hard time trying to make back that dough with domestic earnings. But it is getting some good reviews (currently 85% approval at Rotten Tomatoes), so it may only have minor percentage drops in attendance in the weeks upcoming. The Next Three Days, Dwayne Johnson’s Faster and The Warrior’s Way, all three are likely going to try to eat into Unstoppable‘s audience, as they try to attract action junkies and audiences looking to unwind.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles it is not but Due Date at $59 million after two weeks, this has to be considered somewhat of a disappointment considering this is the first comedy from director Todd Phillips after saw a resurgence as a comedy director with last year’s The Hangover. Even Robert Downey Jr.’s sudden raise in box office status couldn’t help propel the film to bigger grosses. Or maybe audiences are tiring of Zach Galifanakis and his bearded man-child antics.

Coming in fourth was the alien disaster is eminent-now-happening entry, Skyline. Starring a bunch of TV actors (Donald Faison, Eric Balfour) and made for peanuts ($10-$20 million is a small pittance in the scheme of the blockbuster machine), it’s like a made-for-SyFy movie only without a Sharktopus. Though, I have a feeling this will be a curiosity on home video, in a bad-movies-are-better-in-the-middle-of-the-night way. Do yourself a favor and watch the teaser trailer to Battle: Los Angeles instead.

One can’t help be disappointed that some cheaply done special effects and bad acting were enough to keep Morning Glory from placing higher than fifth. Opening on Wednesday, it only managed $12 million over five days. Not good for Indiana Jones. Not good for the woman that made Jack Nicholson shudder in horror as she went topless in Something’s Gotta Give. Even Rachel McAdams spunky personality couldn’t elevate Morning Glory to box office success. Again, I go back to concept. Was the viewing public clamoring for a humorous expose about the morning news? Honestly, unless you follow the industry, I bet the viewers care little about what goes into making a show like Today or Good Morning America. And judging by its performance this weekend, it looks like I was right. If I were Harrison Ford I’d fire my agent. Need we revisit Extraordinary Measures?

Tyler Perry has done pretty well for himself. Hit plays, hit movies, and hit television shows. Yet if you look at his box office performance you notice that the ebb and flow changes when Tyler decides to dress up in drag. His character Madea is like catnip for African American audiences. But it isn’t just him. Like Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor or Martin Lawrence in Big Momma’s House, there’s just something about seeing a black man dress up as an obese person that says spells box office gold. Lionsgate may publicly laud Perry for For Colored Girls, but silently they’re hoping for another Madea-size hit soon.

Holding steady after five weeks with the action comedy Red. It suffered a 41% drop in attendance this weekend, but its distributor, Summit Entertainment, is already laughing all the way to the bank, since it only had to pay a small fee for domestic rights. The AARP star power surely helped in attracting mature viewers (the 40 and over crowd). Showing no legs in performance is Paranormal Activity 2. It opened to strong numbers, but has been dropping like a rock ever since. The adage fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you sounds appropriate right now. Clearly audiences going in knew what to expect with PA2, so the surprise and word of mouth appeal isn’t there. But Paramount is no doubt happy that it has grossed over $80 million with a chance of eclipsing $90 million domestic. Overseas it should make a little less than its $85 million haul last year.

Fighting it out for ninth and tenth places were the two 3D movies not named Megamind, Saw 3D and Jackass 3D . Judging by its performance I think it is safe to say that Lionsgate is done with the Saw franchise for a while. 3D changed the way the games were played, but did not improve its performance overall to a great extent. And what else can one possibly say about the Jackass boys. $115 million overall for $20 million invested (to set up the stunts and pay for medical coverage, I bet), a studio would take that in a heartbeat.

The only new independent release this weekend was IFC’s Tiny Furniture. It managed $22,450 playing on one screen. Inside Job added 184 locations to its theater count and added another $511k to its total. Oscar hopeful Fair Game expanded and earned $1.1 million on 175 screens. 127 Hours expanded its number of screens, from four to 22, and had a total of $453k, at an average of $20,500 per location. Not too shabby. I’ve heard good things and will finally find out if its buzz is good later this week.

Box Office Estimates taken from

1. Megamind – $30 million ($89.8 million overall)
2. Unstoppable – $23.5 million
3. Due Date – $15.5 million ($59 million overall)
4. Skyline – $11.7 million
5. Morning Glory – $9.6 million ($12 million overall)
6. For Colored Girls – $6.75 million ($31 million overall)
7. Red – $5 million ($79.8 million overall) 114,000
8. Paranormal Activity 2 – $3 million ($82 million overall)
9. Saw 3D – $2.75 million ($43.5 million overall)
10. Jackass 3-D – $2.3 million ($115 million overall)

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