Now don’t take this as an invitation for another godforsaken “Do critics matter?” thumbsucker, but M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender was greeted with such widespread derision and toxic word of mouth—even from hype videos like this one—that it seemed destined to career-ending failure. Whether you chalk it up to the transcendent popularity of the animated franchise or the less discriminating tastes of younger audiences or a rebuke to the assumed powers of social media, The Last Airbender opened to some of the biggest numbers of Shyamalan’s career, with $53.1 million over the four-day weekend and $70.5 million since its release on Thursday. Still, it seems unlikely that the film will attract viewers beyond its built-in audience, so expect those numbers to plummet substantially in Week Two.
Ditto the week’s big winner, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which grossed $82.5 million over the four-day frame—a huge number that’s all the more astonishing when added to the $66 million it took on its first day. As with others in the series, the viewers who wanted to see the movie wanted to see it RIGHT THE FUCK NOW, but the take was more than enough for the frugally budgeted movie to pour profits into Summit Entertainment’s coffers. Expect it and The Last Airbender to drop off by 70% or more next weekend, but Eclipse’s $175.3 million domestic gross so far suggests that Summit will be perfectly happy to take the money and run.
Not much happening in limited release, though it’s worth noting that the mumblecore-ish Cyrus, starring John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill, squeaked into the Top 10 despite being on only 77 screens, earning $13,200 per screen. More detailed numbers are available at Box Office Mojo.