Never underestimate the power of cute kids and yellow, bean-shaped minions. It’s good to be despicable this week, with Steve Carell’s “Despicable Me” taking the top spot at the box office without much of a struggle against fellow new studio release “Predators”. The kid-friendly CG movie (in eye-popping 3D! according to the ads) easily beat out Robert Rodriguez’s R-rated shoot-a-thon sci-fi actioner “Predators” for #1, and knocking last week’s reigning champ, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” down one spot to second place.
In its first week of release, “Despicable Me” raked in $60 million, according to studio estimates. It more than doubled “Predators’s” $25 million first week gross, and “Eclipse’s” $33 million second week take. What’s more impressive is that “Despicable Me” was made for a very cheap $69 million. That’s pretty cheap by Hollywood standards. In comparison, “Toy Story 3″ cost $200 million, and “Shrek Forever After” cost $165 million, thanks to their sequel status and huge named cast. A “Despicable Me 2″ would, no doubt, feature an equally ballooning budget.
The Robert Rodriguez-produced “Predators” cost a modest $40 million to produce, and with $25 million already in the bank, it’s a given the film will turn a profit by the time it finishes its theatrical run. Also, genre films like “Predators” usually do well on DVD and overseas markets. Movies filled with explosions and gunfire are a universal language in and of themselves, after all.
Despite initially stumbling out of the gate, M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” has started to inch its way toward respectability. Now in its second week, the film has accrued $100 million at the box office so far, with the majority of its foreign box office still on the horizon. While the movie probably won’t be considered a runaway hit by any stretch of the imagination, there’s a very real chance it could eventually get to a point where it doesn’t become a total disappointment for Paramount and, quite possibly, justify a sequel.