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Century Mark for Oldest Digital Franchise

June 21st, 2010

It has been 15 years since Pixar essentially created the digital animation market. In that time, it has proven to be the most consistent studio both in terms of quality and box office success. That was reinforced this weekend, as Toy Story 3 easily won the box office race, setting a few records along the way. Overall, the box office brought in $199 million, which was the best weekend of 2010 since the first weekend of the year (when Avatar was still dominating the chart). Box office was up nearly 32% from last weekend, and more importantly, up just over 32% from last year. 2010 has now earned an impressive $4.95 billion, which is is 4% higher than last year's pace. However, a lot of this is due to the inflated 3D ticket prices and attendance is still down more than 2% from last year.

Toy Story 3 became Pixar's eleventh film in a row to open in first place (assuming you don't count the one-week prestige run by A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2 as their true box office openings). It also set opening records for the studio, for Father's Day weekend, and for the month of June with an opening of $110.31 million. It was aided by 3D ticket prices, but this is still an incredible feat and it could be the first step in becoming the biggest hit of the year. On the positive side, Pixar has never had a film that didn't enjoy long legs at the box office. The nearly perfect reviews should help with the legs this time around, while there's not a lot of direct competition to worry about. (Despicable Me looks like it will be good, but not $100 million-opening good. Maybe not even $100 million total, as Universal has struggled so far this year.) On the other hand, it is a sequel and it did show a bit of front-loading during its opening weekend. There is a chance the Fanboy Effect will kick in. Best case scenario is $400 million domestically and $1 billion worldwide. Even the worst cast scenario has it earning half that: a $250 million / $250 million split. Either way, this is another money maker for the studio.

The Karate Kid held on a little better than expected, earning $29.88 million over the weekend for a total of $107.13 million after two. With a production budget of just $40 million, the film has already covered its cost. And with 70% positive reviews it will likely last in theaters long enough to get into the black before you take into account its international box office and the home market numbers. That's a very rare feat.

On the other hand, The A-Team will need to be a huge hit overseas and on the home market to show a profit. Granted, its second weekend of release saw it hold on admirably (down just 44% to $14.41 million) but with a running tally of only $50.43 million on a $110 million budget, there's little hope for the film to show a profit in the short term. For a film many were expecting to earn more than $100 million, this is a huge disappointment.

In a bit of a surprise, Get Him to the Greek remained in the top five with $6.10 million over the weekend and $47.84 million after four. It is still slightly ahead of its predecessor and assuming it didn't cost an unreasonable amount of money to make, the studio should be relatively happy with the results so far.

The direct competition killed Shrek Forever After, which plummeted 64% to $5.62 million over the weekend for a total of $223.08 million after a month of release. Even without taking inflation into account, it is the weakest release in the franchise and I think the studio might be concerned with the prospects of Puss-in-Boots after this result.

Finally, we get to Jonah Hex, which is in a tight race with MacGruber for title of Biggest Bomb of the Summer. This film opened with $5.38 million in 2,825 theaters, meaning it missed the Mendoza Line during its debut. MacGruber performed even worse during its debut, but its production budget was tiny compared to this film. Reports range from a low $30 million up to $70 million. Even if it is on the low end, there's little hope this film will show a profit, so it is only a matter of how much the studio will lose. On a positive note, its reviews did improve and while its Tomatometer Score is only 14% positive, it probably won't be among the worst of the year.


Filed under: The A-Team, Jonah Hex, Shrek Forever After, The Karate Kid, Get Him to the Greek, Toy Story 3