SATURDAY PM / SUNDAY AM: Hollywood planned a 2nd straight weekend friendly for family filmgoers who have pent-up demand, and it was a wild success with the two top family films placing #1 and #2. With 20% of K-through-12 kids out of school Friday, Pixar/Disney’s 10th pic and first 3-D movie, Up, was able to get a jump on the domestic box office with busy matinees from 1,534 3-D theaters — a record — and a total of 3,766 theatres total. So the unusual toon starring the voice of Ed Asner and receiving rave revenues opened to around $21.4 million Friday and $26.5M Saturday for a $68.2M weekend with Sunday estimates of $20.3M. Hollywood estimates for its Fri-Sat-Sun grosses started at $55M, went up to $60M based on matinees, but didn’t expect it to top 2008 Wall-E’s $63M. Instead, Up finished as Pixar’s 3rd highest grossing film, close to the $70M opening weekends of the brand’s top 2 computer animation movies, 2004 The Incredibles and 2003 Finding Nemo. (Not adjusted for inflation or ticket prices or the 3-D premium prices.) Up also bested DreamWorks’ first 3-D film Monsters v Aliens which opened at $59.3M over 2009 Spring Break. Disney has been marketing Up as a four-quadrant movie that hits all bases — from comedy to adventure. It was the first film of 2009 to snag an A+ CinemaScore, and Disney considered it Pixar’s most emotional film thus far. It worked, although some parents are emailing me it’s too dark for young children. Exit polls showed 31% of the audience were kids aged 2 to 11, and the other 69% spread equally to all demos.
The other newcomer should come in 3rd: Universal’s subtly titled PG-13 horror pic Drag Me To Hell from Sam Raimi’s devilish direction debuted at $6.4M Friday and $5.7M Saturday for a $16.6M weekend from 2,508 venues. Despite its counter programming, the pic’s box office potential fell short of The Strangers which Uni opened to $20M last year on this date.
But 2nd place went to 20th Century Fox’s Night Of The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian which held well because of Friday’s big matinees and its still huge release into 4,101 theaters. It finished down only 53% from its #1 opening last weekend. The sequel starring Ben Stiller made $7.4M Friday and $10.5M Saturday plus a $7.5M Sunday estimate for a $25.5M weekend and a $105.2M cume.
Warner Bros’ disappointing Terminator 4: Salvation keeps sinking: it was #4 with $5.1M (-64%) and $6.5M Saturday from 3,602 dates for a $15.2M weekend (-64%) when analysts were expecting $20M.
Followed by Paramount’s Star Trek in No. 5 with $3.6M Friday and $5.3M Saturday from 3,507 plays for another $12.8M weekend. The JJ Abrams’ franchise reboot Friday night became the first movie of 2009 to pass $200M domestic. Its cume is now $209.5M.
Imagine/Sony’s Angels & Demons placed 6th with $3.4M Friday and $5M Saturday from 3,464 runs for another $11.2M weekend and a new domestic cume of $104.7M.