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Weekend Box Office (11/14/10): Megamind Wins, Unstoppable Opens Strong, Morning Glory Underperforms

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Megamind was at the top of the box office for the second (and final) time this weekend. The second super-villain animated film the year took in another $30 million. The 34% drop was less than the 41% drop for Despicable Me's second weekend (which was $32 million), but the latter had $118 million by day ten while Megamind has grossed $89 million at the end of its second weekend. Among other Dreamworks titles, Megamind had a slightly higher second weekend than How to Train Your Dragon ($29 million), but it lags $3 million behind in ten-day totals thus far. Megamind is chasing the $198 million total of Monsters Vs. Aliens. It's $15 million behind after two weekends. Whether it approaches the $180 million gross of Madagascar 2 or the $155 million final take of Over the Hedge is a matter of how well it can withstand the blinding white heat of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I.

The biggest opener of the weekend was Unstoppable, which grossed $23.5 million in its first three days. I've said this before, but Denzel Washington is one of the most consistent and reliable openers in the business. Unless he's doing something outside his safe zone (The Great Debaters, Antwone Fisher), he delivers $20-25 million every time out of the gate. It helps that Washington's movies are also pretty consistent about being above-average genre fare. They are not all as good as Inside Man, nor are they rarely as mediocre as John Q, but Washington usually delivers in that all-too rare area of star-driven thrillers. If this estimate holds above the $23.3 million debut of The Taking of Pelham 123, Unstoppable will be Washington's fourth-biggest opening weekend ever. Washington's had a pretty solid year, as this bookends January's The Book of Eli, which scored his second-biggest opening weekend ever ($31 million) and ended up his fourth-biggest domestic grosser ($94 million). The film was split among genders and played 65% to over-25.

Unstoppable is also a big win for Chris Pine. He can't claim much credit for the opening (since it opened right in Denzel's wheelhouse), but Pine gave a solid performance in a very entertaining movie, holding his own against one of the giants in the industry. For what it's worth, he was also very good in the straight-to-DVD horror drama Carriers (Chris Meloni knocks it out of the park in a supporting role). This will also be director Tony Scott's second-biggest opening, behind the $26 million debut of Beverly Hills Cop II way back in 1987 (that would be $56 million in today's dollars). The film cost $100 million, so it will need decent legs and/or overseas strength to earn a profit. But this is a simply terrific piece of old-school entertainment. It's easily Washington's best film since Inside Man and Tony Scott's best film since Enemy of the State (where Will Smith held his own alongside Gene Hackman) and a near perfect example of character-driven, meat-and-potatoes movie making. If this thing doesn't have legs, then nobody gets to complain about the lack of solid adult entertainment at the multiplex.

The next opener of the weekend was Skyline, as the uber-cheap ($10 million) alien invasion picture debuted with $11.6 million. This one was sold solely on the strength of its eye-popping trailer, although audiences correctly guessed that most of the cool stuff was in said trailer. Still, amusingly coined 'DIY sci-fi' by my 'source', the film may in fact changed the face of low-budget genre filmmaking, as it proves that it's apparently possible to make big-budget special effects for a fraction of the cost. For those that want the real thing, Battle: Los Angeles comes out in March of 2011. There is a lawsuit pending accusing the Strouse Brothers of using inside pre-production knowledge of Battle: Los Angeles to eventually craft Skyline, but we'll let the courts sort that out. This one will be forgotten by Thanksgiving.

The other major opener was Morning Glory, which inexplicably opened on Wednesday (Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!). The Rachel McAdams vehicle was sold as a morning-news variation on The Devil Wears Prada, with the added bonus of seeing Harrison Ford in a rare comic supporting turn. Alas, the uber-generic trailer and middling reviews were fatal, as the film pulled in just $9.6 million over the Fri-Sun portion and $12.2 million over its first five days. Pundits touted this as a star-making role for Rachel McAdams, apparently ignorant of the last six years of constant hit films (Mean Girls, The Notebook, The Wedding Crashers, Red Eye, The Family Stone, The Time-Traveler's Wife, etc). Ironically, this 'star-making' film posted her lowest-opening in a mainstream film yet, but she'll be fine as she obviously doesn't want to be a star that badly, otherwise she'd have spent the last several years making more Sherlock Holmes and less The Lucky Ones. This is obviously not a great number for Harrison Ford, which is a shame as this is just the kind of colorful character work that he should be doing now that he's too old to swing through windows with a whip. He'll be fine too. I'm pretty sure he's done caring about being a big star at this point. Just more time to fly planes and save the environment.

For more box office, including indie film news and holdovers, read the rest of this article at Mendelson's Memos.