Universal's Despicable Me shattered all expectations this weekend with a first place debut of $56.40 million. As strong as Despicable Me was this weekend, it also has to be noted that the film's debut was over-estimated by nearly $4 million on Sunday by Universal. Nonetheless, Despicable Me still generated the largest opening weekend performance for Universal since the $70.95 million start of Fast & Furious back in April of 2009. After releasing a number of underperformers and disappointments over the past year, the success of Despicable Me is obviously a big moment for the studio. Furthermore, the film's debut represents an amazing start for Illumination Entertainment. The production company and Universal are set to release Hop in 2011 and The Lorax in 2012.
Though it didn't boast the production costs or brand name recognition of the typical Pixar or DreamWorks computer animated film, Despicable Me did have a high-profile marketing campaign, which clearly connected with audiences in a very big way. In doing so, Despicable Me joins the growing list of heavily marketed films with family appeal that have performed well this summer. The film's start was even more impressive when considering that it didn't get as big of a boost from higher priced 3D admissions as other recent 3D animated films as a result of opening on fewer 3D screens from having to share them with Toy Story 3 and The Last Airbender.
Internationally, Despicable Me grossed $5.0 million from just four international markets. The film's largest international performance was its $3.4 million take in Russia. Despicable Me will open across the rest of the world slowly throughout the rest of the summer.
Holding up better than expected this weekend was Summit's The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The fantasy sequel was down 51 percent from last weekend with a second place take of $31.71 million. Like all other holdovers in wide release, Eclipse was helped out in a big way by last weekend's grosses being deflated from Independence Day falling on a Sunday. After massive declines in its first few days of release, Eclipse has been able to stabilize quite a bit over the past week. The film's twelve-day gross stands at $235.37 million, placing it nearly on par with the $235.73 million twelve-day start of last year's The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Eclipse grossed $81.1 million internationally this weekend from 63 markets. That brings the film's international total to $219 million and its worldwide total to $454.4 million.
Fox's Predators opened in line with pre-release expectations with a solid third place start of $24.76 million. The sci-fi action sequel opened in the same neighborhood as recent Fox releases The A-Team ($25.70 million) and Knight and Day ($20.14 million), but it had a much more successful launch than either of those films given that it was much less expensive with a production budget of $40 million. Predators opened in between the starts of 2003's Alien vs. Predator and 2007's Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem. Through three days Predators is running 35 percent behind Alien vs. Predator and 47 percent ahead of Requiem.
On the international front, Predators grossed $18 million from 22 foreign markets. Key debuts included $3.5 million in the United Kingdom, $2.8 million in Japan, $2.8 million in Russia and $2.3 million in Australia.
Despite the massive debut of Despicable Me, there was still plenty of room in the marketplace for Disney's Toy Story 3. The computer animated blockbuster grossed $21.02 million to finish in fourth. That was down 31 percent from last weekend. Even when taking into account last weekend's deflated grosses it was still a great hold for Toy Story 3. Toy Story 3 has grossed $339.24 million through 24 days. This weekend saw Toy Story 3 become the highest grossing domestic release of 2010 so far as it has now surpassed the $334.19 million total gross of fellow Disney release Alice in Wonderland.
The Last Airbender wasn't as fortunate as the weekend's other major holdovers, as the Paramount release was down a sharp 59 percent with a second weekend gross of $16.64 million. With that said, The Last Airbender is already on the brink of the $100 million milestone with an eleven-day gross of $99.71 million. Furthermore, the previous three films from director M. Night Shyamalan experienced even sharper weekend declines in the 60 to 68 percent range. At its current pace, The Last Airbender looks to finish its domestic run in $125 million to $130 million range.
Grown Ups held up tremendously well this weekend, as it was down only 17 percent from last weekend. The ensemble comedy from Sony took a big hit last weekend from both the new releases and the Independence Day holiday, but made up for it in a big way this weekend with a sixth place finish of $15.81 million. Grown Ups crossed the $100 million mark in the process and has grossed a better than expected $110.72 million in 17 days.