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“Toy Story 3” sets a new monthly record for Pixar

By Scott Mendelson

HollywoodNews.com: “Toy Story 3” ended its first weekend with $109 million, setting a record for Pixar and the month of June. While it is merely the second-biggest opening weekend for an animated film (behind “Shrek the Third’s” $122 million) and the 10th-biggest opening of all-time, it is far and away the biggest opening weekend in Pixar history (“Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles” both opened with $70 million). Of course, since the second-biggest June opening weekend (“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”), the fifth-biggest ‘part 3’ opening (“Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith”), and the third-biggest animated opening (“Shrek 2”) both scored a bit over $108 million over their debut weekends, “Toy Story 3” will have to hope that the estimate holds water come tomorrow or risk losing ground in those respective record books.

Truth be told, I’m a little disappointed in the number, when you factor in the $41 million opening day. When you factor in the usually high multipliers for kids flicks, along with the across-the-board raves from critics and audiences, I honestly expected (or at least was rooting for) a top-five opening weekend. As it is, it is just the third-biggest opening of 2010, behind “Iron Man 2” ($128 million) and “Alice in Wonderland” ($116 million).

Family pictures generally have higher weekend multipliers than the norm. But “Toy Story 3” had just a 2.65x multiplier, it actually decreased 9% on Saturday to $37 million. This is actually the lowest weekend multiplier in Pixar history, behind the 2.7x multiplier for “Wall-E” ($23 million opening day, $63 million opening weekend). Most ominously, “Wall-E” also had the lowest weekend-to-final gross multiplier as well, ending up with $223 million domestic (still a rock-solid by any other standard 3.5 times its opening weekend). Still, the film did just pull in $109 million in three days. It beat out the previous Pixar best by 55%. And the fact that it was a heavily-anticipated sequel that opened in the middle of summer vacation is the likely cause for the apparent front-loading. But where it goes from here is an open question. Pixar films generally have legs. So even though the film will lose its IMAX screens to “Twilight Saga: Eclipse” on Wednesday the 30th, and it will lose many of its 3D screens to “The Last Airbender” the next day, the film is certainly good enough to be appreciated in whatever size or format it plays in for the rest of the summer. Even if it fails to reach the leggy-heights of “Finding Nemo” ($339 million/$70 million = 4.84x) or “Ratatouille” ($206 million/$48 million = 4.38x), we’re still talking a strong contender for the year’s highest-grossing film. Even if it hits a low-for-Pixar 3.12 multiplier, the picture still does $340 million. So no need to panic yet, the best film of 2010 still has a reasonable shot at becoming the highest-grossing film of 2010. Oh, and for a great look at the theoretically nihilistic themes of the movie, go here.

No such luck is in store for “Jonah Hex,” which grossed just $5 million in its debut weekend. It’s the second-worst weekend of the year for a wide-release, behind the $4 million debut of “MacGruber.” This was clearly a case of Warner Bros giving up, not bothering to market the film that they knew was a disaster, and going for the tax write-off. The two theatrical trailers didn’t bother to sell a tone or a hook of any kind. It sold the righteous-violence of Josh Brolin, the murderous-violence of John Malkovich, and the sex appeal of Megan Fox, then edited the picture to a PG-13 thus neutering all three would-be factors. This was clearly a picture that was hurt by last-minute screenings, as even embargoes could not prevent word from slipping out not only regarding the quality, but the fact that the film was just 73 minutes long without credits (they should have sent the picture out without press screenings). Also, Warner miscalculated, trying to make the film into counter-programming against “Toy Story 3.” But the toys of Pixar appealed to every single plausible demographic, thus there was no one that needed to be catered to. Quality and behind-the-scenes drama aside, Warner should have kept this one in the late-August release date that was originally planned. This one is a tragedy all-around.

Awards News, Breaking News, Entertainment News, Movie News, Music News, Hollywood News

To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos.

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