The Reject ReportAs is the case of the rest of the Twilight franchise, Eclipse‘s stay at the top is sure to be short-lived. Two new films hit this weekend, neither of which have the potential to set box-office standards but both that are sure to deliver more than dismal numbers. An animated film in Despicable Me and a return to an R-rated legacy in Predators. The top spot is sure to be a toss-up between the two. Thank God it’s not a hand-to-hand battle, because I feel the spear-wielding, shoulder cannon-blasting alien hunters from another world might serve as a challenge to Steve Carell’s plot to steal the moon. The minions might help though, and that could level the playing field if just for a bit.

Full box office analysis and predictions after the jump…

BIG HITTERS

Are you sick of the animated films yet? So far three computer animated films have had their release in 2010. With the fourth, Despicable Me, Universal is hoping to see the same success DreamWorks and Pixar have already garnered this year. It’s not going to happen. While kids don’t pay much attention to things like the studio that is backing the film they’re watching, you can’t help but notice the drop-off in opening weekends numbers if your film isn’t backed by either of the two biggies. 20th Century Fox and Warner haven’t had much luck in making a dent in those studios’ success, so don’t expect Universal to be able to take the reigns either. Their most successful computer animated film to date was 2008’s The Tale of Despereaux which opened with $10.1 million.

Regardless, Despicable Me seems like a wholly different film than what we’ve seen from Universal animation so far. The quality of animation and humor isn’t on the same level as other studios, but Despicable Me is, at least, aiming for that Pixar/DreamWorks crowd. The RealD utilization, as much as it pains me, can only help the film’s numbers, and the decent reviews it has been getting can’t hurt either. When kids want to see a new movie, they want to see it. It doesn’t matter if another comparable film was released just a few weeks prior. Don’t expect a Pixar or Shrek-level opening weekend, but somewhere in the mid to high 30s seems most likely.

To hear Steve Carell attempt his best, Eastern European accent, check out the Despicable Me trailer right here:

A film whose numbers are a bit easier to track is in the Robert Rodriguez-produced, Nimrod Antal-directed Predators. In a nutshell, unless your Predator film is rated PG-13, don’t expect blockbuster numbers. The best opening a Predators film has had was in 2004’s Alien Vs. Predators, the only film featuring the Predator character to get less than an R rating. It opened to $38.2 million and went on to be the most successful of all the Predator films. Don’t expect an opening that big. Nonetheless, there has been much hype to Predators, much of it stemming from people’s anticipation that it brings the same hardcore edge John McTiernan’s original 1987 Predator brought. This will only help the film’s numbers, as fans of the original film are sure to be out in droves this weekend.

Robert Rodriguez, serving only as producer here, isn’t known for his massive openings either. Though it does seem unfair to compare Predators to his other films financially, as he isn’t the director. However, his name is mostly related to Predators absolutely more so than Antal’s. The biggest opening Rodriguez has is with 2003’s Spy Kids 3D with $33.4 million. The biggest opening he has had with an R-rated film was Sin City‘s $29.1 million in 2005. That is more than likely the best comparison we can make with Predators. Both have the Rodriguez name attached, both also have a built-in brand outside of Rodriguez that will help the opening numbers get to respectable status. It won’t break $30 million this weekend, but expect something very close.

To see Adrien Brody and the rest of the game being chased for their beautiful skulls, check out the Predators trailer right here:

FAMILIARITIES

The top two films last weekend weren’t exactly among the rave reviewed out there. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and The Last Airbender had decent openings despite having mediocre to downright horrendous reviews. They are both going to have pretty big drop-offs here in their second weekends out.

Eclipse is quickly approaching the $200-million mark, and, judging from its daily take during the past, few days, it seems likely to pass that before the weekend even begins. Its slow-down seems to be faster than that of New Moon. It took New Moon four days to break $150 million. Eclipse took five days to get to the same point. New Moon‘s second weekend was down 64% from its first weekend, and the same seems likely to happen with Eclipse. Once again, it seems fairly certain the $300-million trophy will be just out of a Twilight film’s reach.

The Last Airbender will be lucky enough to break $100 million. Its day-to-day takes have been dropping like a brick in water, and the abysmal reviews it has been getting aren’t helping matters. It may get to that $100-million barrier but just barely. Any chances of a Last Airbender trilogy seem to have been tossed into the wind and not even M. Night Shyamalan can bend those chances back in his favor.

The biggest surprise last weekend, the Duplass Brothers’ film, Cyrus, making it into the top 10, seems likely to repeat itself. Cyrus finds itself on more screens across the country this weekend, and stellar reviews will only aid in it getting into that number 10 spot once again. Once again, major kudos to independent cinema when one as enjoyable as Cyrus can find its way in front of mainstream audiences.

LITTLE OPENERS

A number of films hit limited release this weekend, many of which you should be seeking out. Most notably of these is The Kids Are All Right, a Sundance hit starring Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, and Julianne Moore. Check out Neil’s review from Sundance of the film he calls “sweet” and “moving.” It opens in New York, LA, San Francisco, and Chicago this weekend.

See what Mark Ruffalo has done for Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in this trailer for The Kids Are All Right:

Opening in New York this weekend is the documentary Winnebago Man about one film maker’s journey in seeking out an internet sensation. The film was much lauded from 2009’s South by Southwest Film Festival, and nothing gets you interested in the film quite like the original video that made its subject matter such an instant celebrity.

Not the trailer, but check out this footage of Jack Rebney, otherwise known as the Winnebago Man, hard at work:

Also releasing limited this weekend are the sequel The Girl Who Played With Fire opening in a number of markets across the country, Red Alert: The War Within about life in a terrorist group also opening in a number of cities and the horror sequel [REC] 2 in select cities. [REC] 2 is also available on VOD. It should also be noted beginning Thursday night, Grease Sing-A-Long will be opening in a number of theaters. Tickets are quickly selling out, and, if it isn’t playing near you, you can demand it through their website.

Here’s how the top 10 is shaping up this weekend:

  1. Despicable Me – $36.8m NEW
  2. Predators – $29.5m NEW
  3. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse – $21.9m (-66.2%)
  4. Toy Story 3 – $15.4m (-48.9%)
  5. The Last Airbender -$14.2m (-64.7%)
  6. Grown Ups – $9.4m (-50.2%)
  7. Knight and Day – $6m (-42.3%)
  8. The Karate Kid – $4.2m (-46.6%)
  9. The A-Team – $1.2m (-59.1%)
  10. Cyrus – $.9m (+22.2%)

$139.5 million is what we are looking at here, down 21.8% from last weekend. This isn’t much a surprise considering the fan-frenzy the Twilight Saga brought forth. Neither the Predator nor Steve Carell’s voice work can compete with that, and I don’t think either Adrien Brody or Topher Grace will be able to carry much either. This weekend looks to be up 5.7%, though, from the same time last year when Bruno hit and I Love You Beth Cooper stumbled to get that weekend’s box office to $131.9 million.

Neither Despicable Me nor Predators seem to have much chance of raking in boat-loads of cash, but both should deliver decent numbers for their respective studios and genres.

We’ll be back on Sunday to go over the weekend numbers.

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