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Weekend Report: Pixar Pounds Its 'Toy' Chest

by Brandon Gray
Toy Story 3
 

 
June 21, 2010

The toys were back in town, and audiences were back in theaters. Pixar Animation Studios broke the piggy bank again with Toy Story 3, which raked in $110.3 million over the weekend. Overall weekend business was up 32 percent over the same timeframe last year, and, with nearly $200 million, it was the industry's largest-grossing third weekend of June ever.

Pixar's track record extended to 11 consecutive blockbusters, reaffirming yet again the role that consistent, universal storytelling plays in branding and commercial success. Toy Story 3 delivered the studio's highest-grossing launch yet, surpassing The Incredibles' $70.5 million. However, in terms of estimated attendance, it was effectively around the same as Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc.. The first Toy Story took ten days to hit the same level of attendance as Toy Story 3 in three, while Toy Story 2 reached the same height in less than four days.

Toy Story 3 also generated the second biggest-grossing start ever for an animated feature, behind Shrek the Third's $121.6 million. The latter, though, had the advantage of opening in mid-May, when business is more concentrated on the weekends than at this time in June (when most kids are off from school). For the month of June, Toy Story 3 had the highest-grossing opening weekend on record, edging out Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (though that movie burnt off weekend demand with a Wednesday launch). On both fronts, Toy Story 3 would fall back a few places in terms of attendance.

Playing on approximately 7,500 screens at 4,028 locations, Toy Story 3 essentially matched Pixar's largest releases, though its showed on around 2,000 fewer screens than Shrek Forever After. According to distributor Walt Disney Pictures' exit polling, Toy Story 3's audience was 54 percent under 25 years old and evenly split between genders, while families (parents and their children) made up 67 percent. Disney pointed out that 40 percent of the non-family audience was aged 17-24, people who presumably grew up with Toy Story.

Toy Story 3 marked Pixar's second movie presented in 3D after Up, and it played on around 3,200 3D screens at 2,463 sites. 3D accounted for 60 percent of business (including 180 IMAX sites that made up eight percent). The 3D ticket price premium appears to have added more than $20 million to the weekend gross (though there is no data on how many people it might have deterred). As prominent as 3D appeared to be for Toy Story 3, it was relatively less prominent than for Shrek Forever After (61 percent opening share) and especially Alice in Wonderland (2010) (70 percent).

The weekend's other nationwide debut, Jonah Hex, was a complete misfire, rustling up a paltry $5.4 million at 2,825 locations and ranking eighth. That was the weakest start for a DC Comics adaptation since Steel in 1997, and was much lower than the $9.4 million of the last DC bust, The Losers. The fantastical Western action movie was an attempt at counter-programming Toy Story 3 but couldn't muster much niche support let alone broader interest with its feeble presentation: not serious and dramatic enough for Western buffs and too obscure for fan boys. It had one of the worst openings on record for a Western, let alone a comic book movie.

(For more analysis on the new releases, click here to read the Weekend Briefing.)

Last weekend's champ, The Karate Kid, was knocked down in typical summer fashion, dropping 46 percent but still made a sizable $29.9 million, and its total rose to $107.1 million in ten days. Designed to be a crowd pleaser, the remake is not likely down for the count: a leg might be broken, but the picture will aim to stabilize in the coming weeks.

The A-Team held up slightly better than Karate Kid, though it again made less than half the money. The television show adaptation retreated 44 percent to $14.4 million, bringing its total to a relatively soft $50.4 million in ten days. Holding onto fourth place, Get Him to the Greek continued to perform similarly to predecessor Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I Love You, Man, albeit with a bit less attendance. The music comedy bagged $6.1 million, down 39 percent for a $47.8 million total in 17 days. Killers was also in the mix with $5 million, off 37 percent for a $39.3 million total in 17 days.

With the more appealing Toy Story 3 sopping up its family audiences and 3D screens, Shrek Forever After tumbled 64 percent to $5.6 million, lifting its total to $223.1 million 31 days. It had, by far, the steepest-falling and lowest-grossing fifth weekend of any Shrek movie.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time curiously had the smallest drop among nationwide holdovers. The video-game adventure dipped just 14 percent to $5.6 million, upping its sum to $80.8 million in 24 days. Up until now, it had been holding up only slightly better than fellow Memorial Day weekend opener, Sex and the City 2. That picture, which lost more theaters than Prince, tumbled another 56 percent to $2.4 million, increasing its total to $90.2 million in 25 days or only two thirds of its predecessor through the same point.

Related Story
This Weekend in Box Office History
Weekend Briefing: 'Toy Story 3's Abuzz, 'Jonah's Vexed

Last Weekend
'Karate Kid' Kick-Starts the Summer

This Timeframe in Past Years:
2009 -
'Proposal' Pops, 'Year One' Lacks Stones
2008 - 'Get Smart' Wins, 'Love Guru' Loses
2007 - 'Evan' All Wet, '1408' Occupied
2006 - Sandler Controls Box Office Again
2005 - 'Batman' Begins in the Shadows

Related Charts
Weekend Box Office Results
All Time June Opening Weekends
Pixar Franchise
Animation Opening Weekends



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