By: David Germain
LOS ANGELES — The “Toy Story 3” gang and Adam Sandler are finding plenty of playmates at movie theaters. Tom Cruise is not so popular, though.
The Disney-Pixar Animation smash “Toy Story 3” remained the No. 1 film with $59 million in its second weekend, raising its domestic total to $226.6 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Sandler’s “Grown Ups” debuted at No. 2 with a healthy $41 million. Released by Sony, the comedy costarring Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade and Rob Schneider did well, despite a thrashing from critics.
Cruise’s thriller “Knight and Day” fizzled at No. 3 with $20.5 million. It was the worst result for a Cruise action flick in 20 years and a sign that audiences may not have forgiven him for erratic behavior a few years back, which included his couch-jumping incident on Oprah Winfrey’s show.
“He’s one of the biggest stars of all time, but no question, this has impacted him,” said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. “It’s not like it’s irrevocable or unchangeable. Look at all the stars who have been jailed or caught in compromising sexual situations and then came back. Many stars do recover. It just may take a lot of time for him.”
Reviews were fair for “Knight and Day,” which features Cruise as a charming spy who finds romance with a civilian (Cameron Diaz) on a globe-trotting adventure. Yet distributor 20th Century Fox could not pull in a big audience despite a heavy marketing push that included sneak-peak screenings a week earlier and a Wednesday debut designed to build fan buzz for opening weekend.
Since Wednesday, “Knight and Day” has taken in $27.8 million. It added $12.6 million in 12 overseas markets, but the movie has a long road ahead to recoup a production budget of around $107 million.
Playing in 4,028 theaters, “Toy Story 3” maintained a strong average of $14,647 a cinema. That compared to an average of $11,602 in 3,534 theaters for “Grown Ups” and $6,617 in 3,098 cinemas for “Knight and Day.”
Even so, Chris Aronson, head of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox, said the studio was happy with the results.
“I do think with the excellent reviews we’ve caught along with its playability, that it’s going to be the movie of choice for smart audiences and will be for a while,” Aronson said.
“Knight and Day” had Cruise’s lowest action debut since the 1990 race-car thriller “Days of Thunder,” which pulled in $15.5 million while playing in 800 fewer theaters. Factoring in higher ticket prices, “Days of Thunder” would have debuted with about $29 million in today’s dollars.
After just 10 days in theaters, “Toy Story 3” is about to hurtle beyond “Shrek Forever After,” now at $229.3 million after five weeks in theaters, to become the year’s top-grossing animated movie.
Though $300 million blockbusters “Iron Man 2” and “Alice in Wonderland” had bigger opening weekends, “Toy Story 3” now is outpacing both and could be on track to become the year’s biggest hit.
“Though I would never try to call that prematurely, it certainly is the kind of movie that plays so well that you would expect the legs to put it into a pretty lofty position,” said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney. “The storytelling is so superb that I think it’s going to play forever.”
“Toy Story 3” has added $100 million in 32 overseas countries to raise its worldwide total to $326.6 million. The film has yet to open in many major markets, including most of Europe.
While Cruise once was one of Hollywood’s most-dependable draws, Sandler remains a steadfast box-office earner. “Grown Ups” was his 10th film to open in a consistent range from about $34 million to $48 million, dating to 1998’s “The Waterboy.”
“Grown Ups” features Sandler and his pals as boyhood friends reuniting as adults for the funeral of their old basketball coach.
Critics usually hate Sandler’s movies, while fans keep turning up.
“They realize that they’re the final judge, and they’ve chosen Adam over and over,” said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. “They know what they want to see.”
Overall business was down again as Hollywood lapsed back into a box office slide that persisted from May into early June. Revenues totaled $160 million, down 20 percent from a huge weekend last year, when “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” debuted with $109 million.
Summer revenues are at $1.7 billion, down 5 percent from the record pace of 2009, while attendance is off nearly 11 percent, according to Hollywood.com.
Business should rebound as “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” opens Wednesday for the Fourth of July weekend, one of the year’s busiest times at theaters.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com.
- “Toy Story 3,” $59 million.
- “Grown Ups,” $41 million.
- “Knight and Day,” $20.5 million.
- “The Karate Kid,” $15.4 million.
- “The A-Team,” $6 million.
- “Get Him to the Greek,” $3 million.
- “Shrek Forever After,” $2.9 million.
- “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” $2.8 million.
- “Killers,” $2 million.
- “Jonah Hex,” $1.6 million.