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Company Town: 'Megamind' repeats as weekend box-office leader

The animated comedy, estimated to have reaped $30 million, tops 'Unstoppable,' the Denzel Washington thriller that took in $23.5 million.

November 15, 2010|By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times

Denzel Washington couldn't derail "Megamind."

The DreamWorks Animation 3-D comedy featuring the voices of Will Ferrell and Tina Fey cruised to the top of the box office for the second straight weekend, topping the runaway train thriller "Unstoppable," which stars Washington and Chris Pine.

"Megamind," a superhero spoof, took in about $30 million, according to early estimates. That represented a drop of just 35% from the previous weekend, an indicator that the movie has some long-term viability. (A drop greater than 40% would have indicated trouble ahead.)

"It's terrific," said Anne Globe, head of worldwide marketing for DreamWorks Animation, of the second-weekend results. The movie's strongest appeal continues to be among young boys — good news for DreamWorks, because the next two big movies for kids, Warner Bros. latest edition in its " Harry Potter" franchise and Disney's "Tangled," will be aimed at older kids and young girls, respectively.

Overall, though, it was not a particularly strong showing at the box office. Films took in $123 million this past weekend, off 12% from the same weekend a year ago. It's nowhere near last weekend's $154-million take, a record for the first weekend of November.

The strong second-weekend performance of "Megamind" easily put the brakes on "Unstoppable," a film from 20th Century Fox that opened to an estimated $23.5 million.

Some box-office projections had "Unstoppable" rolling to the top, but the studio wasn't betting on that.

"We never thought we'd be No. 1," said Bert Livingston, general sales manager for 20th Century Fox.

The $23.5-million take for "Unstoppable" was on par with industry estimates. The movie's appeal, according to the studio, was divided evenly between men and women, and more than one-third of its audience was under age 25.

"Unstoppable" was not cheap. According to one person familiar with the production, the movie cost about $100 million. A studio executive downplayed that number and said the cost was between $75 million and $85 million.

Though the performance of "Unstoppable" was respectable and on par with Washington's last train-ride thriller — a remake of "The Taking of Pelham 123," also directed by Tony Scott — it will need a strong second weekend and international performance to be a big winner for 20th Century Fox. Livingston didn't think that would be a problem for the action film, which received generally strong reviews.

"We're going to be on the screen for a long time," he predicted.

A new movie that may not be on screen for a long time is Paramount's "Morning Glory," which took in only $9.6 million over the weekend.

The film, which stars Rachel McAdams as a spunky producer trying to save a sagging morning news show, was compared unfavorably by many critics to the 1987 James L. Brooks classic "Broadcast News." Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford costar as mismatched anchors.

While most box-office analysts are already anticipating a quick trip to Redbox for "Morning Glory," Paramount brass said the results were in line with what it was expecting and predicted that ultimately the movie would deliver a performance similar to that of "Secretariat" or "Red."

"I think what you have here is a movie people are going to tell their friends to see," said Don Harris, Paramount's executive vice president and general sales manager. Harris said that when Paramount screened "Morning Glory" for theater owners, the studio told them, "If you're not in it for the long haul, don't book the movie."

As expected, the movie found most of its fans in women over age 25.

Finishing just ahead of "Morning Glory" was Universal Pictures' "Skyline." The movie, which Universal is distributing for Relativity Media, took in $11.7 million, which, given its low budget of around $10 million, was a promising start for the movie about an alien invasion.

The other big movies entering their second weekend — Warner Bros.' "Due Date" and Lionsgate's "For Colored Girls" — saw a steep decline from their respective debuts.

"Due Date" finished third for the weekend with $15.5 million. That's a 52% drop from its premiere weekend for the thinly veiled revamp of the 1987 John Hughes heart-tugging comedy "Planes, Trains & Automobiles." "Due Date" features Robert Downey Jr. in the role of an uptight traveler, struggling to get home, who gets saddled with an annoying sidekick, played by Zach Galifianakis.

"For Colored Girls," a searing drama from Tyler Perry, continued to play primarily to females and took in $6.7 million, an ominous 65% decrease from its opening weekend.

joe.flint@latimes.com

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