‘Toy Story’ stays on top of box office

Meanwhile, 'Grown Ups' behaves well with $41 million

Younger-skewing pics led the domestic B.O. this weekend as the frame’s top players were fueled by kids and kids-at-heart.

Disney’s 3D toon installment “Toy Story 3” topped in its second outing, earning an estimated $59 million for a boffo domestic total of $226.6 million; while “Grown Ups” played nice with those under 25, with an estimated debut of $41 million for Sony at 3,534 locations.

The weekend’s other wide release 20th Century Fox’s “Knight and Day” came in near studio expectations after a soft Wednesday bow, with an estimated three-day total of $20.5 million. Pic targeted primarily adult moviegoers, estimating $27.8 million since June 23.

Still, the fray’s top performers were no match for Paramount’s boffo opener “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which bowed to $109 million during the same weekend last year. This weekend was down approximately 20% compared to the 2009 frame.

“Toy 3” continued to match its domestic dominance with a strong performance overseas. The toon added $36.1 million over the weekend from 35% of the international market, boosting foreign totals to $100 million. Worldwide cume for the 3D toon stands at $326.6 million.

Launching day and date in 12 markets, “Knight” tallied $12.6 million in territories including Russia, South Korea and Taiwan. Pic launched in two Latin American markets, contributing nearly $1 million.

Director Oliver Stone’s politically charged docu “South of the Border,” which bowed in Latin America earlier this month, kicked off Stateside at one location for the weekend’s top per-screen average of $21,000. “Border” beat out last week’s per-screen champ, Fox Searchlight’s “Cyrus,” which averaged $17,647 from 17 locations in its soph sesh. Pic took in an estimated $300,000 for the weekend, cuming $565,000.

“Toy 3” slipped only 47% after the toon’s leading June bow of $110.3 million. Toon ranks second only to “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” as the Mouse House’s leading pic to pass the $200 million benchmark. “Pirates” reached the same heights during its initial eight days of release; “Toy 3” took nine.

“If you’re in that kind of category, you’re in lofty air,” said Disney distrib topper Chuck Viane. “I think what gives us the advantage is friends telling friends they’ve got to see this movie.”

Viane attributed the toon’s strong legs to positive word of mouth among all auds. Toon has garnered near universal praise from critics and moviegoers, which should continue fuel strong performance in the coming weeks.

Both “Grown Ups” and “Knight and Day” also drew favorable responses from moviegoers under 25, scoring an A- CinemaScore rating.

“Grown Ups” performed slightly better among females, while “Knight” saw an even split between men and women. The femme-driven aud reps an unusual breakdown for “Grown Ups,” given the film’s comedian guy troupe promoted the pic during sporting events like the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals. Sony’s marketing campaign featured childhood photos of stars Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider.

“This film really shows the power of Adam (Sandler) as one of the most consistent stars at the box office,” said Rory Bruer, Sony prexy of worldwide distribution. “He put together a really funny ensemble cast and really worked it.”

“Grown Ups” marks the 10th film for Sandler to open north of $34 million. Paramount’s May 2005 release “The Longest Yard” reps the thesp’s top opener ($47.6 million), with “Grown Ups” now the fourth-highest opening for Sandler.

Meanwhile, “Knight” gained traction over the weekend, up a healthy 27% on Saturday, which Fox senior VP of domestic distribution Chris Aronson attributed, in part, to the early launch and last weekend’s sneak previews.

“We had always looked at the sneaks as paid word-of-mouth screenings, which clearly paid off, given the film went up 80% on Friday,” he said. “It’s not always easy to launch an original concept movie. But I think the plan was executed well, and the audience is responding.”

Rated PG-13, the action caper toplines Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz and is directed by James Mangold. Pic reunites both Cruise and Diaz after starring in Par’s “Vanilla Sky,” which debuted in 2001 with $25 million.

Falling short in its second outing, Warner Bros.’ supernatural Western “Jonah Hex” fell a steep 70%, grossing an estimated $1.6 million. Pic’s cume reached a disappointing $9.1 million.

Among top holdovers, Sony’s family-friendly reboot “The Karate Kid” held best, dropping 48% in its third weekend, with an estimated $15.4 million at 3,740 playdates. Pic saw a similar drop last weekend, helping boost its cume to $135.6 million. Fox’s “The A-Team,” down 58%, added an estimated $6 million to its $62.8 million domestic total.

The weekend saw a healthy crop of docus open. In addition to Cinema Libre’s “South of the Border,” National Geographic Entertainment’s “Restrepo,” about U.S. soldiers deployed in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, bowed in limited release to solid results. “Restrepo,” which won the doc grand jury prize at Sundance, earned an estimated $30,435 at two engagements for a per-screen average of $15,227. Nat Geo plans to expand its domestic rollout in the coming weeks.

Also in limited release, Sony Pictures Classics bowed French-lingo pic “Wild Grass,” directed by Alain Resnais, at two Gotham locations. Pic grossed $20,132, averaging $10,066 per screen.

Overseas, Sony launched “Grown Ups” day and date in four territories, including Australia, where the film totaled $2.3 million on 224 screens. “Grown Ups” debuted in that territory behind Disney’s launch of “Toy 3,” which earned $6.2 million on 365. Bow marks the territory’s third-highest toon opening behind “Finding Nemo” and “Shrek 2.”

Top overseas market for “Knight and Day” was South Korea, which contributed $3.8 million on 501 screens, the highest-grossing 2010 opening for Fox in that territory. Russian auds shelled out $3.4 million on 950. “Knight” debuted in the No. 1 spot in both territories. Fox plans to expand its rollout of “Knight” to 14 additional markets next weekend.

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