EXCLUSIVE: Despicable Me, the first film out of the gate for Universal Pictures and Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment, will cross the $500 million worldwide gross mark tomorrow. It steps into rarefied territory as the film continues to roll out around the world. The 3D animated film that starred Steve Carell recently cracked the Top 10 list of all time biggest domestic-grossing animated films. The pic, which cost $69 million to make, has grossed $248 million domestically, which puts it a distant second behind Toy Story 3, but makes it 2010′s second biggest animated film domestic grosser so far. Despicable Me also has become Universal’s sixth highest domestic-grossing film ever, and the studio’s biggest international grossing film of 2010. The film just opened in Japan but hasn’t played yet in several territories including China. It has done $247 million overseas, and is expected to finish as Universal’s fifth all-time biggest grossing film in the international marketplace. Just as important, the picture pulled Universal out of a prolonged slump.
It happened last night for the Universal/Illumination inaugural film and becomes the 8th pic this year– and the 4th toon — to cross the $200 million mark. It’s just beginning to roll out overseas in 44 territories over next few months, so the worldwide gross is now $234 million.
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM UPDATE: These numbers will be refined in the morning. But sources have given me early North American grosses now for the Top 10. Hollywood expected Inception to hold well in the large markets and on both coasts and it did with a $43.5 million second weekend and new domestic cume of $143.6M. But Salt definitely put some pepper into Friday’s and Saturday’s box office with a $36.5 million weekend. Thanks to these big #1 & #2, the overall weekend grosses looks like $160M, or +12% from last year. The other newcomer Ramona and Beezus joined an already crowded family film market and finished with $8 million:
Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Game Plan Includes ‘Despicable Me’ Sequel, ‘Minion’ Spinoffs, Dr. Seuss, The Addams Family
EXCLUSIVE: Three years ago, Universal Pictures brass wooed Chris Meledandri away from his president post at Fox Animation to start its first family film unit. Over the weekend, Illumination’s first effort, Despicable Me, nearly doubled Universal’s gross predictions for a $56.4 million opening. Suddenly, the Meledandri decision looks like one of the better ones made by NBC Universal in a good long time. The studio has reinforced that by making a full commitment to the venture. Illumination’s original co-financing game plan made by former chairmen David Linde and Marc Shmuger called for Universal to fund only half the operation and film budgets, and Illumination’s founder and CEO Meledandri raising the rest. But that plan was delayed by the credit crunch. Then Universal chiefs Ron Meyer, Rick Finkelstein and Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley told Meledandri, in a decision that went all the way up to NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker, that they didn’t want to share and would fully fund him. Meledandri, who has autonomy but won’t make pictures that don’t excite the studio’s toppers, sparked to Uni’s financing plan because it incentivizes hustle to release and market the films. Despicable Me, for instance, was heavily cross-promoted in NBC-Universal platforms that included network, cable and theme parks.
The result is now a momentum changer for Universal on several fronts. Despicable Me ended a prolonged hit pic slump. It plugged the studio into a …
IT’S GOOD TO BE BAD! ‘Despicable Me 3D’ Doubles Expectations For $60.1M Weekend; R-Rated ‘Predators’ On Target With $25.3M; ‘Eclipse’ Global Cume Now $456M; See How This Hollywood Summer Is Doing Overseas
SUNDAY AM: It was a great weekend at the box office with the total tally $202M, up an impressive +41.4% from last year. And that doesn’t factor in next week which features the most anticipated movie of the summer, Chris Nolan’s Inception. Year to date, 2010 revenues are running $5.9M, that up 5.06% over last year. But attendance is down 1.42%. Summer 2010′s grosses are even more important internationally than domestic for a lot of motion pictures. So in this extended report I’ve included additional detail on the overseas releases all heavily impacted by World Cup play:
1. North American box office numbers show that Universal Pictures is enjoying something it hasn’t had in a very long time: a big fat hit film. That’s because weeks of great parent-kid family tracking for Despicable Me 3D translated into what even rival studios told me was ”amazing” attendance of Friday’s $21.7 million and Saturday’s $21.3M for a $60.1M weekend opening despite having two other 3D family films in the marketplace. Still, Despicable Me found 3,476 theaters, of which 1,551 locations were in 3D, and managed to double Universal’s expectations of opening domestic grosses. Exit polling data showed the film received an “A” Cinemascore and the audience was 55% kids 12 years and under and parents.
You’ve got to credit those wonderful movie trailers and TV ads that communicated the movie’s bold originality. (Who doesn’t want minions trailing them!) Despicable Me is the first 3D CGI film from Universal’s animated/family-film production company partner, Illumination …