Box Office: TWILIGHT fails to ECLIPSE July 4th record but still opens big, AIRBENDER takes $40 million

Matt Holmes brings you this week's Box Office Report.

Twilight: Eclipse failed to beat Spider-Man 2's July 4th weekend record of $88 million, though we have to concede that the fangirls are just too strong for the tweeny franchise to wither and die, sadly. The third in the vamp-fest love drama earned $69 million over the weekend, which added to it's recording breaking $68 million haul on it's opening day of release (i.e. it's whole budget made back in 24 hours), bring it's current cume to a blood warming $161 million. Surprisingly, the franchises' move to the summer and the quicker release turn-a-round, which everyone expected would result in higher stakes, actually didn't turn out to be such a positive move. New Moon took home $143 million on its opening weekend and was a whole day quicker in reaching the $150 million mark last November (4 days instead of 5), but it's hardly anything for Summit to lose sleep over. These Twilight movies, because they don't particularly cost a great deal to make (nothing like the usual effects/explosion heavy blockbuster, no huge actor deals) and because they will continue to make money from DVD and tatty merchandise sales, are as useful to Summit as a tree that grows money all year round. That's despite the series being loathed by the majority of film critics, though most concede that new director David Slade did a better job on this one than his predecessor Chris Weitz; he just never had a chance at anything better with this limited story and screenplay. For those keeping score, Breaking Dawn, the final book in the series will be a two film parter, directed by Bill Condon and will open Nov. 2011 and then July 2012. So enjoy these next 18 months. It's the longest gap we have been afforded between Twilight movies, so make the most of it. With every new release, we call it the time to mark the end of M. Night Shyamalan's career, but we just don't know how his latest is going to fall yet. His first ever conscious mainstream blockbuster, and his first movie based on characters he didn't think of - The Last Airbender - took home $40 million from Fri-Sun. That usually would be a magnificent haul for him but when you consider some studio estimates had Paramount dishing out $280 million on a movie they backed to the hilt, it needs really strong staying power to make a return and the word of mouth is so poor, we just can't see it happening. Some of the worst reviews of the year have been branded and stamped onto the movie, and with going up against the likes of Inception and Predators in the weeks to come - Paramount could be on board for a financial whopping here. It's really not what M. Night needs right now as he tries and sells an original screenplay around Hollywood (which now only has Bruce Willis & Gwyneth Paltrow loosely attached, lead Bradley Cooper is unavailable because of Hangover 2) Toy Story 3 could be on course to be the highest domestic earner of 2010 so far. Another $30.2 million was added over the weekend, and the movie is just $10 million short of $300 million domestic. As of right now, it's in third place on the overall 2010 chart behind Alice in Wonderland ($334 million) and Iron Man 2 ($308 million), the latter it is sure to surpass in the next 7 days. Here's hoping it tops Burton's movie over it's run, as it certainly feels more deserving. It's outdoing Toy Story 2's $246 million (albeit with higher 3D prices & a ten year inflation) and we're betting Oscar noms etc are on it's way. Could it be the first animated Best Picture winner, and the first second sequel to win? Maybe we are getting ahead of ourselves, but we loved the movie and it's nice to think about. 1 N The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Sum. $69,000,000 - 4,468 - $15,443 $161,000,000 $68 1 2 N The Last Airbender Par. $40,650,000 - 3,169 - $12,827 $57,000,000 $150 1 3 1 Toy Story 3 BV $30,174,000 -49.1% 4,028 - $7,491 $289,000,000 $200 3 4 2 Grown Ups Sony $18,500,000 -54.3% 3,534 - $5,235 $77,082,000 $80 2 5 3 Knight & Day Fox $10,200,000 -49.4% 3,104 +6 $3,286 $45,508,000 $117 2 6 4 The Karate Kid Sony $8,000,000 -48.5% 3,109 -631 $2,573 $151,523,000 $40 4 7 5 The A-Team Fox $3,025,000 -51.2% 2,153 -1,089 $1,405 $69,116,000 $110 4 8 6 Get Him to the Greek Uni. $1,185,000 -62.3% 884 -1,304 $1,340 $57,427,000 $40 5 9 7 Shrek Forever After P/DW $799,000 -74.2% 957 -1,383 $835 $232,182,000 $165 7 10 20 Cyrus FoxS $770,000 +155.6% 77 +60 $10,000 $1,488,000 $7 3 11 18 Letters to Juliet Sum. $693,000 +70.5% 340 -169 $2,038 $50,815,000 $30 8 12 8 Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time BV $670,000 -76.5% 600 -1,251 $1,117 $88,124,000 $200 6 The goofy Adam Sandler we mentioned last week will be letting out a sigh of relief that he is still wanted in the industry after his pose didn't turn up for Funny People. $18.5 million for the weekend, even at fourth place on the charts, not only shows that there was definitely some money spent over the weekend but that there's way too many people who are willing to chuck it away on cheap laughs. Knight & Day did a better than expected second weekend with $10.2 million but domestically it's going to struggle to hit even $70 million. And for a movie made for $120 million, it's just not good enough. Worldwide grosses will save it (yet to open in some big countries such as U.K., France, Italy, Japan), but it's no wonder that Cruise is wanting to go to Mission Impossible IV and a Les Grossman movie next to try and crack that $100 million domestic barrier that even he, the former biggest movie star on the planet, can't seem to break through right now. We also wouldn't be surprised if he gave Jerry Bruckheimer that call over Top Gun 2. The Smith family's The Karate Kid is one of the success stories of the year, hanging on to $151 million domestic from just $40 million, and its still looks like it has legs. Who would have thought it would be outperforming The A-Team at this point, which added just $3 million yesterday and is floundering at under $70 million domestic. Fox having a tough time right now. Cyrus, the little movie that could, made it into the top ten with $770,000 with a huge $10,000 screen average. It only played on 77 screens, so congrats for that; especially when you compare it to Shrek 4's $779,00 on 957! But yeah - we would have chosen to see Toy Story 3 instead too.

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Editor-in-chief
Editor-in-chief

Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.