Par/DreamWorks Animation 3D toon bests 'Due Date,' 'Girls'

A record-setting November kickoff weekend saw Paramount/DreamWorks Animation’s 3D toon “Megamind” top the domestic B.O. with an estimated $47.7 million at 3,944 locations. Pic’s performance fell in the mid-range for November toons.

Estimates for the weekend ranged from $154 million-$157 million, enough to beat the previous November opening-weekend benchmark of $153 million set in 2003.

Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ Todd Phillips-helmed laffer “Due Date” debuted in the No. 2 spot with an estimated $33.5 million at 3,355 locations, a solid start given the film’s R rating.

Also in its opening weekend, Lionsgate’s “For Colored Girls,” with three-day estimates of $20.1 million, fell in line with studio expectations, as well as a comparable year-end perf for a Tyler Perry pic. The helmer’s previous fall release, “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” launched with $23 million on Sept. 11, 2009.

The specialty market saw a solid boost with Fox Searchlight’s boffo opening of “127 Hours,” earning the year’s second highest per-screen average of $66,481, behind

the $70,282 per-screen high for “The Kids Are All Right.”

“127 Hours” launched in four Los Angeles and New York locations, with sold-out evening showings. Pic posted an estimated total of $265,925 and will expand wide Dec. 3.

Warner launched “Due Date” in 36 day-and-date markets, estimating a solid $21.5 million on some 4,000 screens. “Due Date” started strong in the U.K., with $3.8 million, 85% higher than “The Hangover,” while the pic’s $3.8 million take in Russia wasn’t enough to catch “Megamind.”

With the exception of a few early overseas bows last weekend, Par has held “Megamind” from most major markets.

The toon’s biggest contribution this weekend came from Russia, where it stayed on top in its second frame with an estimated $5.1 million, boosting its local cume to $14.6 million. Pic’s overall international gross reached $18.6 million from five territories on 1,330 screens.

“Megamind” played at 2,634 domestic 3D locations for a 3D share of 66% — typical of previous 3D toon offerings, which have displayed strong legs with the format in holdover weeks. Imax contributed 7% of the toon’s opening gross ($3.2 million), with 15 of the pic’s top 20 engagements overall.

The toon’s 3D portion ranks slightly below DWA’s “How to Train Your Dragon,” which scored 69% from 3D opening weekend, but higher than all three summer 3D toons: “Shrek Forever After,” “Toy Story 3″ and “Despicable Me.” November openings for previous 2D toons have ranged from $41.4 million for “Happy Feet” in 2006 to 2004’s $70.5 million opening for “The Incredibles.”

Anne Globe, DWA head of worldwide marketing, said the 3D take for “Megamind,” coming from 67% of the total location count, is a testament to the animation studio’s strong commitment to the format. “I think audiences have quickly figured out that the movies conceived and authored in 3D provide great entertainment value and that they’re worth the price of admission,” she said.

Globe noted the toon’s strong 3D showing also is likely because of broadened interest among adult moviegoers. “Megamind,” which scored an A- CinemaScore rating, played evenly with auds aged both over and under 25, with slight preference among women (57%).

In an attempt to attract older audiences, Par and DWA inked a branding deal with Chase Bank. “We had such a natural connection with them that really made for a very organic campaign,” Globe said. “They target the young adults and parents that we were hoping to get for the film.”

Warner’s “Due Date,” toplining Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, managed the highest opening for an R-rated comedy in November. “Borat” previously held the title with $26 million when it launched Nov. 3, 2006.

“Due Date,” however, wasn’t able to surpass Phillips’ summer 2009 release, “The Hangover,” which bowed to $45 million and became the highest-grossing R-rated pic of all time with $277.3 million domestically.

With males constituting 53% of its audience, “Due Date” saw 59% of its opening come from moviegoers under 35. Pic received a B- CinemaScore rating but, according to Warner, received an A- appraisal from the under-18 crowd. “Broad audiences had a great time and are sure to tell all their friends for many weeks to come,” said Warners distribution exec Jeff Goldstein.

Lionsgate’s “For Colored Girls” skewed heavily toward adult African American females, with 87% of moviegoers over 25, 81% African-American and 82% female.

“(Perry) consistently delivers, and his audience consistently comes out,” said Lionsgate distrib topper David Spitz.

Spitz lauded the pic’s opening, especially considering its R rating and serious subject matter. The adult-driven demo also bodes well for the pic, Spitz said, as older auds continue to turn out in subsequent frames. Perry pics usually see a considerable rise from Friday to Saturday in their soph sesh.

Based on Ntozake Shange’s acclaimed 1970s stage play, “For Colored Girls” has an ensemble cast that includes Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Whoopi Goldberg and Kimberly Elise.

Lionsgate also shortened the play’s title to make the film version more marketable.

Leading the sesh’s holdovers, Summit’s “Red” continued to show sturdy legs in its fourth frame, dropping just 17% for an estimated weekend take of $8.9 million. Pic landed in the No. 4 spot behind the weekend’s fresher fare, with a hearty cume of $71.9 million.

Other repeat players seeing limited drops included Disney’s “Secretariat” and Sony’s “The Social Network,” both of which fell a scant 20%. Entering its fifth frame, “Secretariat” grossed an estimated $4 million, bringing domestic totals to $51 million. “The Social Network,” which continues to play well with adult moviegoers, earned $3.6 million. Pic rounded out the top 10, cuming $85 million to date.

Summit’s Sean Penn-Naomi Watts biopic “Fair Game” started strong in limited release, launching at 46 locations for a per-screen average of $15,217 and a weekend estimate of $700,000. The film saw a healthy jump from Friday to Saturday, which could mean good news in the upcoming weeks. Summit plans to expand the film to 130 locations next weekend.

Drafthouse Films launched its inaugural pic, “Four Lions,” to just-OK results, averaging $5,625 per screen for an estimated weekend take of $45,000. “Four Lions” went out in eight U.S. locations.

Notable overseas players were “Jackass 3D” and “Despicable Me,” grossing an estimated $12.5 million and $11.8 million, respectively.

“Jackass 3D” launched in Australia and the U.K., with strong perfs from holdover territories like Germany. Pic’s overseas cume stands at $18.8 million from a total 14 markets, already surpassing its two predecessors.

Meanwhile, “Despicable Me” raised its international cume to a stellar $256.2 million, with worldwide totals now at $504.5 million. The toon held best in France and Blighty, where it tallied nearly $2 million from both markets.

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