UPDATE 1-3D cartoon ‘Megamind’ animates box office

* “Megamind” underperforms at No. 1, but may endure

* “Due Date” and “For Colored Girls” off to solid starts

* Overall sales soar to three-month high
(New throughout with studio reaction, analysis)

LOS ANGELES, Nov 7 (BestGrowthStock) – “Megamind” led the North
American box office to its best weekend in more than three
months on Sunday, but the $47.7 million opening for the
DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc (DWA.O: ) release fell a little
short of industry forecasts.

Observers had predicted the 3D cartoon about a hapless
supervillain would earn more than $50 million during its first
three days of release across the United States and Canada. But
the studio’s March release “How to Train a Dragon” also
underperformed initially before becoming a worldwide smash.

Also new were the comedy “Due Date” at No. 2 with $33.5
million, and the drama “For Colored Girls” at No. 3 with $20.1
million, both in line with expectations.

The three newcomers accounted for most of the $146 million
total for the top 12 movies, according to the box office
division of Hollywood.com. It marks the highest tally since
July 23-25, when reigning champion “Inception” drove sales to
$155 million.

“Megamind” revolves around a hapless criminal voiced by
Will Ferrell, and is not to be confused with the recent hit
cartoon “Despicable Me,” which revolved around a hapless
criminal voiced by Steve Carell.

The film’s early international total, from No. 1 openings
in Russia, Ukraine, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines,
stands at $18.6 million. The studio will release the film to
tie in with school holidays in individual markets, although
“Despicable Me” is still playing strongly internationally.

STOCK SOCKED

DreamWorks Animation said “Megamind” performed to its
expectations and it was confident that the film would hold up
well through the holidays. It noted that the film received a
bullish A-minus score in exit polls conducted by tracking firm
Cinemascore. Costs were in line with recent releases: $130
million for production, and $160 million for global marketing.

By way of comparison, “How To Train Your Dragon,” the
studio’s previous non-sequel, opened to $44 million, and the
studio’s share price fell 8 percent the following Monday. But
the movie displayed strong staying power, ending up with $218
million domestically and $276 million internationally.

Still, DreamWorks Animation’s current stock price — $35.42
as of Friday — is off 17 percent since “Dragon” opened.
Archrival Walt Disney Co (DIS.N: ) is up about 5 percent over the
same period.

“Due Date” stars Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis as
an odd couple forced to endure each other on a road trip, and
is not to be confused with “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,”
the 1987 comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy. The new
film was directed by Todd Phillips who, along with
Galifianakis, is currently shooting a sequel to their hit
comedy “The Hangover.”

Warner Bros. said the film set a new opening record for an
R-rated comedy in November, surpassing the $26.5 million debut
for “Borat” in 2006.

“For Colored Girls” marks prolific filmmaker Tyler Perry’s
latest exploration of the life of black women, but the
Lionsgate release is definitely not to be confused with the
slapstick comedies starring his “Madea” alter-ego. “Girls,” an
adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s play about a group of women
dealing with abuse issues, played to a slightly older female
crowd than is usual for Perry films, Lionsgate said.

The top-five was rounded out by the Summit Entertainment
crime drama “Red,” starring Bruce Willis, holding steady at No.
4 with $8.9 million in its fourth week; and last weekend’s
champion, the Lionsgate horror “Saw 3D,” which slid to No. 5
with $8.2 million. Their respective totals rose to $71.9
million and $38.8 million.

“Megamind” was released by Viacom Inc’s (VIAb.N: ) Paramount
Pictures under a distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation.
Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc (TWX.N: ). Lionsgate is
a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp (LGF.N: ). Summit
Entertainment is privately held.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing Eric Beech)

UPDATE 1-3D cartoon ‘Megamind’ animates box office