SUNDAY CENTS: ‘Grown Ups’ and their toys

Posted by · 1:47 pm · June 27th, 2010

*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

Adam Sandler’s agent successfully convinced him that cancer was way less funny than Kevin James’s blubby body falling down repeatedly and that agent has his finger on America’s pulse. “Grown Ups” is not the number one movie this weekend, though, so we’ll come back to it in a second.

“Toy Story 3” dropped a respectable 47% to $59.0 million and easily repeated at the summit of the chart. It’s running total passed $225 million and the drops should get considerably better from here on out. I guess this means that the success of the first two films wasn’t down to the popularity of Jim Varney after all.

Okay, now there’s that movie about “Grown Ups.” Seemingly named by an Executive’s five year old son and possibly written by him as well, the Adam Sandler comedy grossed $41.0 million for the weekend. That almost matches the $42.7 million of “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” and goes a bit better than the $39.6 million of “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.”

Sandler’s consistency with dumb comedy is downright eerie. Is it really all the same exact people that show up for his films or is there some assembly line that pumps out new fans just as the older ones discover girls and/or books? Whatever the case, this is a sure-fire $100 million performer, his twelfth. It also means that Kevin James has been in four films and they will average a total gross of around $160 million. Stew on that.

Tom Cruise used to have a record like that but his films have stuttered a bit lately. “Knight and Day” started slowly mid-week, but picked up the pace a bit to record a $20.5 million weekend and $27.8 million five day tally. Definitely on the low end of debuts for Cruise, but by no means a disaster. James Mangold has been consistent in this range and with no other titles aimed at an older crowd coming for the Fourth, it could find its way to $80 million or so.

Cruise always gets a share of the profits so by the time overseas grosses are counted, he should be able to afford his 2010 Scientology tithing budget.

If you smelled something rancid at the multiplex this weekend, it was surely “Jonah Hex” stinking up the joint. Theaters are almost always tied in to two week bookings minimum with the major studios so Josh Brolin and his ugly mug stayed in 2,825 venues but dropped an atrocious 70%. The weekend total was $1.6 million and the per theater average was $566. Generously factor about four shows a day and that’s $142 per showtime. Fourteen people. Fail.

Drops were pretty brutal all around the top 10, perhaps thanks to the heroics of Landon Donovan (they seem so far away now). “Toy Story 3” actually held up the best and for a title in its second weekend, coming off a huge opening, that’s pretty phenomenal.

Oliver Stone’s Shia LaBeouf-less documentary about Hugo Chavez, “South of the Border” had a strong opening on one screen, but even liberal Hollywood would have a tough time embracing that kind of thing with an Oscar nomination.

I saw two films this week, and both were produced by major Hollywood studios! On Wednesday, I packed into the Vista for “Toy Story 3” (in 2D of course) and was largely disappointed. I mean, it’s good and all, but there’s no excuse for recycling the same opening, escape/rescue plot, structure, loyalty themes and villain motive from “Toy Story 2.” I laughed my ass off when Mr. Potato Head was a tortilla, but there was nothing new to say in this script. Also, what is the obsession with adding characters in sequels? Totally overboard here and there were at least 30 characters I was supposed to find interesting and everybody suffered as a result.

Then on Thursday I saw “Cyrus” at the Arclight. The Duplass Brothers were batting one for two with me and their shooting style is still bothersome, but I really liked it in the end. File Marisa Tomei’s outstanding performance in the I-never-thought-she-had-it-in-her file. And yes, I’ve seen her serviceable performance in “The Wrestler” and terrible one in “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.”

What did you guys see? Here are this week’s top grossing films courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

→ 20 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

20 responses so far

  • 1 6-27-2010 at 2:04 pm

    Hans said...

    Toy Story 3, loved it. Of course, getting to see movies for free basically always adds extra points for me, so this film practically received extra credit.

  • 2 6-27-2010 at 3:01 pm

    James D. said...

    The Puffy Chair made your Top Hundred, so you didn’t like Baghead? I thought it was terrific and a nice change of pace for the whole mumblecore ideal.

  • 3 6-27-2010 at 3:29 pm

    forts said...

    Yeah Toy Story 3 uses a bit of what worked in the first movies but isn’t that kinda what a successful trilogy should do?… And it’s unfair to say that it copied the opening because I’m pretty sure it was intentional… I have never seen anything positive about Pixar on this site unless they get their own article

  • 4 6-27-2010 at 3:36 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Successful sequels are meant to build on the relationships and story arches of the previous film. Toy Story 2 did that brilliantly by shifting from a story about jealousy and friendship to one of loyalty and mortality. The new characters introduced only served to flesh out the Woody character. Toy Story 3 adds nothing

  • 5 6-27-2010 at 3:56 pm

    JJ said...

    Sure it does, it adds closure.

    I see what you’re saying. But I enjoyed the stand-alone humor, was impressed by the always-great animation, and fell for the beautiful heartfelt sentiment of the last 15 minutes.

  • 6 6-27-2010 at 4:29 pm

    Patryk said...

    I saw “Winter’s Bone.” Still thinking about Jennifer Lawrence. (I hope andrea doesn’t read this…)

  • 7 6-27-2010 at 4:43 pm

    James D. said...

    I had not seen Toy Story 2 until after Toy Story 3, and I was surprised at how similar they were. It was almost like a mad lib, really.

    I still liked it very much, though, although I thought it missed its chance for a perfect ending.

  • 8 6-27-2010 at 6:26 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I don’t think they’re similar at all. “Toy Story 2” is a rescue film, “Toy Story 3” is a breakout film. “Toy Story 2” is mostly about the allure of cold fame and luxury instead of true warmth and love, “Toy Story 3” is about the end of an era and its contents being passed down to the next generation. Stinky Pete was simply reliant on Woody to stay in his collection, Lotso is a flat-out dictatorial tyrant.

    Sorry, but I don’t see it. The biggest similarity to me was the second film’s airport ending and the third film’s incinerator ending, which are somewhat comparable. Yet the incinerator scene adds real risk that wasn’t apparent in the second.

  • 9 6-27-2010 at 6:28 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Also, did you mean to leave it at “SUNDAY CENTS:” without anything after?

  • 10 6-27-2010 at 6:32 pm

    red_wine said...

    I pretty much loved Toy Story 3. Yeah the basic structure was carried over from the first film, but it was still a perfectly tuned entertainment, magnificently written and the tears at the end were not cheaply earned.

    I actually find Toy Story 2 to be one of the weakest Pixar films, almost Shrek level.

  • 11 6-27-2010 at 8:50 pm

    Craig said...


    Calling Toy Story 2 Shrek level is absurd, and I’m 99% certain you can’t provide a compelling argument for why you think it is such. I see literally no similarity.

  • 12 6-27-2010 at 10:10 pm

    Chase K. said...

    I agree that “Toy Story 3” essentially recycles the meat of “Toy Story 2”, but it works because those anxieties and unfortunate truths brought up in that film are now here right in front of us and that gives it a welcome, pressing urgency and underlying quotient of dread.

    I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s pretty brilliant. After basically snoring my way through “The A-Team” and “Knight and Day”, it was so refreshing to watch a film that’s actually gripping, tense, funny, purposeful, etc.

  • 13 6-27-2010 at 11:37 pm

    MattD said...

    My roomies and I were shocked at how much “Toy Story 3” owes to “The Brave Little Toaster.” Don’t get me wrong, we loved TS3 & cried at the end, but the climax in the dump? The owner-figure’s dilemma of what to take to college? Amazingly similar to “Toaster.”

  • 14 6-28-2010 at 6:20 am

    red_wine said...

    @Craig By Shrek level I meant similar quality, not innate similarities in the movies themselves though that is where my complain arises.

    I think Toy Story 2 was the first animated film which had a multitude of spoof jokes and cultural references. Infact there was an entire sub-plot about Buzz and Zura that was a spoof of Star Wars. I find such things in movies pointless and disposable. It seems kinda low grade when pitted against other Pixars.

    Shrek(kinda excepting the first one) just carried the idea further where the entire series is just a spoof like the Scary movies series.

  • 15 6-28-2010 at 10:59 am

    Speaking English said...

    ***I think Toy Story 2 was the first animated film which had a multitude of spoof jokes and cultural references.***

    Totally untrue. Off the top of my head, Disney’s “Aladdin” and “Hercules” come to mind.

  • 16 6-28-2010 at 8:35 pm

    Craig said...

    Aladdin was definitely the starting point for that, thanks entirely to Robin Williams just getting to cut loose for the entire film. I don’t think it’s been done as well since, but that movie is a classic and I don’t think the spoof jokes hurt it at all.

    Sure, Toy Story 2 had a bunch of references to other films and bits of pop culture (the Star Wars thing was one, the Close Encounters theme at the beginning another, etc, etc), but I think it’s a stretch to call the Zurg thing a complete subplot. He was mentioned in the first film, but never appeared until the second one, and him making an appearance was a pretty obvious choice since they were including the Toy Story and a second Buzz Lightyear. The Star Wars reference was blatantly obvious, but you’re acting like Pixar has never done that kind of thing, while I’m betting you could find a handful in every single one of their films (hell, there’s another Star Wars reference in 3).

    Saying that Pixar sinks to the level of the Shrek films on Toy Story 2 is just ridiculous though. In Shrek, the pop culture references were literally all they had. Toy Story 2 had depth that those movies couldn’t even dream of, and the reference was just one gag in a script that was both witty and poignant throughout. If I had to pick a favorite Pixar film, it’d probably be Toy Story 2, and I’m actually offended by your comments because Shrek is pretty much the dark side of modern animation.

  • 17 6-28-2010 at 11:10 pm

    Glenn said...

    “Toy Story 2” referencing “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” > “Shrek 2” referencing “Charlie’s Angels” and “Livin’ la Vida Loca”

    any day of the week.

  • 18 6-29-2010 at 1:10 am

    Filmoholic said...

    “And yes, I’ve seen her serviceable performance in The Wrestler and terrible one in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.”

    Really? I think she gave a very good performance in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, but she was given a minor character to play, not exactly a showpiece. As for The Wrestler, it’s a fantastic, vulnerable performance. One of her best.

    I have yet to see Cyrus, and I’m curious about the whole shooting style issue. I’m not a fan of unnecessary, distracting zooms, so I’m interested to see where I’ll fall on this one.

  • 19 6-29-2010 at 2:00 am

    Brian D said...

    Yeah, well I’m offended that every seemingly film geek has to crap all over the first Shrek to shows off your film loving bonifides. I call BS on that.

    Shrek (1st one) has plenty of riches. It’s not just a spoof, but also clever and cutting commentary on the Disney machine (ran by a King named Farquaad).

    So yeah, all this dark side of animation bull… it doesn’t ring true. you don’t have to trash a good film just to praise Pixar’s latest love-fest.

  • 20 6-29-2010 at 7:03 am

    red_wine said...

    @Craig I guess we just disagree on the film. I absolutely love Pixar but not all their films. Toy Story 2 was not as affecting as the other two and also not as well-written. Also the other 2 have very humane poignant endings. Toy Story 2 I would say is the nadir of this celebrated trilogy.

    I agree Shrek was good, as I pointed out in my post, but after that the series plunged into a vacuum of bad taste and cheap humor.