Carell Wins Big in the Summer Box Office

Carole McFaddan

“We also stole the Eiffel Tower! [cheers] … the small one… from Vegas…” This summer, everyone’s favorite Office star, Michael, (Steve Carell) goes big as a cartoon super villain with a weakness for the moon and three little surprises.

The poster for Steve Carell's hit movie, Despicable Me.

Steve Carell did it big in the box office this summer with two huge comedies: Dinner for Schmucks and Despicable Me. Carell made it big in film through his roles in Bruce Almighty and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Today, he is an actor in television and film, a screenwriter, a frequent guest star on daily shows, and a producer. Since his 2005 film, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Carell has set a precedent for his other upcoming comedies because that film grossed $109 million in box office sales and won the MTV Movie Award for best Comedic Performance and an WGA Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay with co-writer Judd Apatow. Despicable Me is Carell’s second film of 2010, following April’s comedy Date Night with leading actress Tina Fey (star of television show 30 Rock). Carell is currently working on a sequel (Get Smart 2) of his 2009 film Get Smart, based on the old television show, a remake of Peter Sellers’ 1967 film The Boho, commercials, and other television work.

In the third cartoon of his career, Despicable Me, Carell is the voice of Gru, an evil super villain – quite possibly the world’s greatest super villain – or is he? In a wonderful white picket fence and rose bush neighborhood, there sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by a small army of minions, Gru is planning the biggest heist in the history of the world to “out-villain” new generation villains. His master plan: he is going to steal the moon (Yes, the moon!).

Delighting in all things wicked, he is armed with his band of minions and his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air. However, part of his plan becomes too much for the world’s greatest super villain to handle – three little girls. Jason Segel, Russell Brand, and Julie Andrews are among the star-studded voice cast.

As the first 3D animation from Universal Picture “Despicable” opened, it topped the box office its first weekend with an estimated $60.1 million. This is an extraordinary gain for the company, which was only expecting half as much from the film in its first week as it was a great risk as the first 3D film targeted for both children and adult audiences (Source: Nikki Rocco, Universal Pictures Head of Distribution to Associated Press) But of course, the studio’s marketing campaign with the little yellow minions helped! Although up against many franchise films this summer, (Toy Story 3 – the highest grossing film of the year- and Twilight), the movie performed well at test screenings and critics were solidly behind it, with 80% of critics on recommending the film. This past weekend of August 13th, the film was still ranking at #6 on the Top 10 Movies in the Box Office, with only one other children’s film on the charts making $7 million that weekend, totaling $222.2 million for its total run.

Carell’s second film of the summer, Dinner for Schmucks, also did well in the box office. Schmucks stars Paul Rudd as Tim, a rising executive who must “succeed” in finding the perfect guest – IRS employee Barry (Carell) – for his boss’s monthly event, a so-called ‘the dinner for idiots,” which offers certain advantages to the executive who shows up with the biggest buffoon.