Sunny No. 1 For Family Film 'Meatballs'; Foul Weekend For Hollywood Stars' Flops

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Mamma Mia! Talk about a spicy meatball: now that’s one fair weather 3-D toon! By comparison, all the big Hollywood stars of the moment flopped in their 2-D films despite allowances for middling releases. Although you wouldn’t know that by the spin every studio has given me this morning. Do they think I just fell off the turnip truck? So let’s get down to the numbers.

1. The beloved children’s book turned Sony Pictures Animation’s movie Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs scored an easy No. 1 by attracting not just kids but also tweens, teens, and twentysomethings as well as parents to North American screenings at a record 1,828 3-D sites (which did $18 million), including 127 Imax locations (which did $2.45 million). That’s why four-quadrant family films like this are such a favorite of Hollywood. All day and night, Sony kept upping its box office predictions as the money just kept rolling in. By Sunday, the studio was looking at a total $30.1M opening for the weekend — $8.1 million for Friday’s in 3,119 theaters, and $13M Saturday. The Saturday matinee family bump really kicked in (+65%)! Cloudy scored a CinemaScore of “A-“, and “A” for the under-24 set. Plus, the marketing campaign for it was sassy (not stupid like too many other family films). Overseas, where Meatball opened in just a few territories, it debuted #1 in all the markets, including the UK, Mexico, Chile and Ecuador.

2. Warner Bros’ R-rated caper comedy The Informant! featuring Matt Damon in a tour de force performance playing against type (bumbling vs Bourne), and directed by Steven Soderbergh (who can’t, or more likely doesn’t care to, direct a cash cow anymore) was a distant No. 2. But with a CinemaScore of only “C-“, it opened to $3.6M Friday and $4.5M Saturday in 2,505 runs for a paltry $10.5M weekend. The lack of box office will hurt any Oscar chances. Good thing the pic was cheap to make: the budget was only $22M in a 25/25 split with two partners, Groundswell and Participant. Problem is no film these days is cheap to market.

3. Tyler Perry’s holdover I Can Do Bad By Myself for Lionsgate placed 4th with a $3.1M Friday (-65% from a week ago) and $4.6M Saturday for a $10M (a -57% drop from its No. 1 position last Sunday) and new cume of $38M.

4. Relativity’s and Universal’s 50/50 mawkish romance Love Happens (even the execs expressed embarrassment by the lame storyline) showcasing Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart placed 3rd with a weak debut of $3M Friday and $3.2M Saturday in 1,898 venues. With a CinemaScore of “B”, it opened to just a $8.5M weekend. In her last 3 wide release films, Aniston has helped open pics to $26M, $36M, and $39M. But Universal points out those were comedies, not dramas dealing with loss. And all were more costly. Half this production is covered by Universal partner Relativity Media. Even with audiences staying away, because of this pic’s financial structure, “anything over $7.5M puts Universal in a position to make a tidy return on its investment,” an exec spins. “This is because the studio has limited exposure on this film. The negative cost was covered via foreign pre-sales. Not a financial flop by any means.”

5. And not even Megan Fox’s body could tempt moviegoers into Twentieth’s R-rated feminist horror flick Jennifer’s Body, DOA with $2.8M Friday and $2.6M Saturday from 2,707 dates and a CinemaScore of “C-“. It did a pathetic $6.8M weekend for No. 5. As a 20th exec emailed me, “Jennifer’s Body only cost $16M and is the last of the Fox Atomic films.” Thank gawd. Worse, it shows that screenwriter Diablo Cody may be filmdom’s one-hit wonder.

The rest of the Top 10 this weekend were holdovers.

6. 9 (Focus) Week 2 [2,060] Wkd $5.5M, Cume $22.7M
7. Inglourious Basterds (Wein/Uni) Wkd $3.6M, Cume $109.9M
8. All About Steve (Fox) Week 3 [2,159] Wkd $3.4M, Cume $26.6M
9. Sorority Row (Summit) Week 2 [2,591] Wkd $2.4M, Cume $8.8M
10. The Final Destination (Warner) Week 3 [1,805] Wkd $2.3M, Cume $62.3M

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