WALL•E & Wanted : The Unstoppable Box Office Duo!

The ComingSoon.net Box Office Report has been updated with studio estimates for the weekend. Be sure to check back on Monday for final figures based on actual box office.

To say this was a good weekend at the box office would be a huge understatement. Few people were expecting a new box office record to be set, but for the first time in history, two new movies opened with over $50 million each, which was enough to make this one of the Top 10 top grossing weekends at the box office in history. There haven’t been that many weekends where we saw two movies dominate and divide up a significant portion of the box office, but that’s what happens when you release two anticipated movies that appeal to audiences of all ages.

Pixar Animation’s ninth movie, the robot love story WALL•E (Disney), was expected to destroy all competition this weekend, but apparently, the counter-programming of an R-rated action flick was too much for it. It opened with an estimated $62.5 million in 3,992 theaters, decent but disappointing compared to expectations, and based on estimates, WALL•E is neck and neck with Pixar’s 2001 offering Monsters, Inc. to be the animation studio’s third-biggest opening ever. On the more positive note, it opened bigger than Pixar’s two previous summer releases. With near-perfect reviews and strong word-of-mouth, WALL•E should easily surpass the $200 million mark and make a play for the $250 million grossed by previous Pixar animated movies. Considering that it cost a rumored $180 million, quite a bit more than previous movies, it will have to do well over the next few weeks if it’s going to be considered profitable.

Opening in 800 fewer theaters, Universal Studios’ Wanted, based on Mark Millar & J.G. Jones’ graphic novel, was the weekend’s underdog despite the presence of bonafide stars Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. With an estimated opening weekend of more than $51 million, Wanted had the biggest opening for an R-rated movie in June, and it’s also the 6th or 7th highest R-rated opening ever. It averaged an impressive per-theater average of $16k, higher than WALL•E‘s per-theater average, plus it also cost $100 million less than the CG animated movie, which means it’s closer to making back its production costs. Wanted would also be significant as the biggest opening movie for Ms. Angelina Jolie, surpassing her 2005 summer hit Mr. and Mrs. Smith and her breakout action movie Tomb Raider. That said, it was only Atonement star James McAvoy’s second biggest opening movie after Disney’s The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in 2005; since he actually starred in this one, his pay rate is likely to go up substantially. The movie is also quite an achievement for Russian director Timur Bekmambetov, whose two previous Russian movies grossed just $2 million between them when released in the United States, despite being record-breaking hits in Russia.

Internationally, Wanted topped the box office with $33 million from 1,922 theaters in 22 markets bringing its worldwide total to an impressive $84 million after three days.

The introduction of two big box office draws caused a significant drop in many of the returning movies with only a couple being able to hold up their business from last weekend.

Warner Bros.’ Get Smart, last week’s top movie, dropped to third place with $20 million, down 48% from its opening weekend, while DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda had a similar drop in its fourth weekend, taking fourth place with $11.7 million for a cumulative gross of $179.3 million. It’s slowly working its way to becoming DreamWorks Animation’s second biggest non-sequel movie after the original Shrek.

Marvel Studios’ The Incredible Hulk (Universal) took another hard hit in its third weekend, dropping 58% to fifth place with $9.2 million. With a total box office take of $115.5 million, it doesn’t look like it will surpass the U.S. box office showing of the previous Ang Lee movie, which means we might have seen the end of this superhero franchise for some time.

Mike Myers’ The Love Guru (Paramount) crashed in its second weekend, dropping 61% with $5.4 million in its second weekend, bringing its total to $25.3 million. Considering it cost $62 million to produce, not including prints and marketing, it does not look that it will be a profitable effort for Myers.

The return of Harrison Ford’s adventure-seeking archeologist in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount) is just one day away from hitting $300 million, having added another $5 million to its take in its sixth weekend, as it dropped down just one place from the week before.

M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller The Happening (20th Century Fox) also dropped over 60% in its third weekend, down to eighth place with $3.8 million and a total gross of less than $60 million. Of course, it only cost $60 million, so it’s not a complete loss.

The Top 10 was rounded out by Sex and the City (New Line) with $3.8 million and Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (Sony) with $3.2 million. While the women’s comedy is doing excellent with a gross $140 million, the $91 million made by the latter in the past month makes “Zohan” one of Sandler’s least successful summer comedies in many years.

Even so, the Top 10 grossed an estimated $176 million, up 24% from the June closing weekend last year, as well as being one of the Top 10 box office weekends in history.

Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films.

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