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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 07/12/2010

Weekend box office: 'Despicable Me' triumphs over 'Twilight'

By Jen Chaney

The animated, moon-heist adventure "Despicable Me" outdoes the vamps and werewolves of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" to become the weekend's No. 1 movie. Meanwhile, "Predators" gets a relatively decent start, "The Last Airbender" moves beyond the $100 million mark and some excellent indies have something to celebrate, too. Keep reading for more details on the weekend box office.

"Despicable"? Try profitable. (Universal)

"Despicable Me" raked in $60.1 million, opening way ahead of studio projectons. Though, really, this shouldn't be that much of a surprise. The movie has been promoted extensively, starting way back in February with a high-profile Super Bowl commercial. It appeals to families. And the reviews and audience buzz were strong. The Steve Carell-voiced film played a key role in the overall box office performance, which was up roughly 43 percent compared to the same weekend last year, according to Box Office Mojo.

Business for "Eclipse" dropped by about 49 percent, which is a less severe decrease than either the first "Twilight" or "New Moon" encountered on their second weekends. The third "Twilight" movie has now grossed $237 million in North America and $456 million worldwide. Yeah, I am pretty sure no one at Summit is terribly concerned about that "drop."

"Predators" -- starring Adrien Brody, not Arnold Schwarzanegger -- got off to a respectable start in theaters, landing in third place with $25.3 million in its pockets. Worldwide, the alien action flick collected more than $43 million, which means that -- with a production budget of $40 million -- Fox has more than earned back its investment.

The much maligned "The Last Airbender" earned $17.1 million over the weekend, allowing its total gross to sail past the $100 million mark. That the adaptation of the Nickelodeon cartoon the most financially successful release for M. Night Shyamalan since 2004's "The Village."

Congratulations to "Toy Story 3"; its $22 million take over the weekend now makes it the top movie of 2010 so far. Its collective domestic earnings add up to $340 million, more than the $334.1 million racked up by the former most-lucrative-film-of-the-year, "Alice in Wonderland."

And one more round of congrats to a couple of indie films that have found an audience in the midst of the sequels-that-go-boom summer season. "Cyrus" hung on to its spot in the top 10, with $1.3 million. "The Girl Who Played With Fire," the second film in the Swedish series based on Stieg Larsson's Millennium series, opened in eleventh place, also in limited release. And "The Kids Are All Right," which opened in just seven theaters but will expand further this weekend, made $505,000, which doesn't sound like much. But given the few number of screens showing it, that amounts to a per-screen average of $72,143, a very big number for a small film with some major actors -- Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo -- in its cast.

Looking to next week ... should we just cede the weekend to Christopher Nolan's much-anticipated "Inception"? Or does "Despicable Me" have a chance of holding on to No. 1? Make your prediction in our box office poll.

By Jen Chaney  | July 12, 2010; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  | Tags:  Summer Movies, Weekend Box Office  
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