This will be the weekend that redefines the perception of how the Summer of 2010 has performed thus far. To that end we have already had an amazing week at the box-office and the Fourth-of-July weekend hasn’t even officially started. We’ve already set new box office records (Top debut theatres – 4,416 & 4,468, Top midnight gross – $30M, IMAX record midnights with over $1 million) and even posted the second best single-day gross ($65.8M) in box-office history. On the off chance that you have been living under a rock for the last week, the film in question is Summit Entertainment’s “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.”
Offering further proof that audiences care more about the concept than the star, the “Twilight” franchise now has the distinction of owning the top two slots on the all-time single-day gross list (among many other records) and all this with nary an A-lister in sight. The potential for a five and six day opening frame in the over $200 million range is certainly in the cards for this latest installment from the money-making hit machine that is “Twilight.” Any doubt that teen girls are putting their male counterparts to shame in the summer box-office generating department is now thoroughly erased as the squealing teens have been lining up, sitting down, screaming their brains out and then repeating the whole process in what can only be called a dream scenario for the studio. We now await the weekend results in what should prove to a great weekend for vampires and werewolves alike.
There is of course another wide release debut in the mix as “The Last Airbender” from acclaimed director M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable,” “The Happening”) hits theatres on Friday. The PG-rated family adventure fantasy is based on the Japanese TV series that ran from 2005 to 2008 and is looking to offer an alternative to the PG-13 rated, teen lustings of “Eclipse.” The film’s 3-D component will most certainly draw bigger-than-average crowds and please the younger viewers as well as their parents. Shyamalan is a somewhat polarizing figure as a director given the varying degrees of box-office success and critical acclaim his films have received and the hours of discussion devoted to his career and creative choices. Nonetheless, “The Last Airbender” offers something unique for the family audience of the extended holiday weekend.
Year-to-date revenues took another beating last week with the weekend down 17% vs. the same weekend a year ago when “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” had a massive debut. However, much ground will be made up this week as “Eclipse’s” mid-week and weekend grosses along with the continued strength of Disney’s “Toy Story 3” and other titles over the holiday weekend will hold onto its end of the box-office tug-of-war rope.