Minions in 'Despicable Me''Despicable Me' supervillain Gru may have had a hard time stealing the moon, but he should be over the moon about this weekend's box office take. The film not only conquered the chart but also grabbed about $20 million more than even the most optimistic predictions.

Universal's 3-D toon earned $60.1 million according to studio estimates -- pretty good considering it's based on an unknown property, plays to adults in ways that go over kids' heads and has had to fight for 3-D screens against the still popular 'Toy Story 3.'

But the film received strong reviews, citing a winning performance by comedy MVP Steve Carell as Gru, and Universal cross-promoted it well, both on its NBC group of broadcast and cable TV channels, and with merchandising partners like IHOP and Best Buy. (Those little yellow "minions" are everywhere!) Minions in 'Despicable Me''Despicable Me' supervillain Gru may have had a hard time stealing the moon, but he should be over the moon about this weekend's box office take. The film not only conquered the chart but also grabbed about $20 million more than even the most optimistic predictions.

Universal's 3-D toon earned $60.1 million according to studio estimates -- pretty good considering it's based on an unknown property, plays to adults in ways that go over kids' heads and has had to fight for 3-D screens against the still popular 'Toy Story 3.'

But the film received strong reviews, citing a winning performance by comedy MVP Steve Carell as Gru, and Universal cross-promoted it well, both on its NBC group of broadcast and cable TV channels, and with merchandising partners like IHOP and Best Buy. (Those little yellow "minions" are everywhere!)

Adrien Brody in 'Predators'The weekend's other new release, 'Predators,' did about as well as expected, taking in an estimated $25.3 million. Fox's sequel/reboot, which had middling reviews but good word of mouth, came with a hard R rating that kept kids out but attracted fanboys looking for undiluted action and gore. Its per-screen average of $7,475 was above any of this week's top 10 movies except 'Despicable' ($17,295 per screen). The sci-fi/horror thriller's star, the suddenly Situation-like, ab-tastic Adrien Brody, demonstrated more box office muscle than he's shown anytime in the five years since 'King Kong' opened with $50 million.

Still, that wasn't enough for 'Predators' to take second place this weekend. That spot went to last week's champ, 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,' whose vampires and werewolves bit off another $33.4 million, about half of last weekend's take. Its 12-day total stands at $237 million, and it has a good shot at surpassing the $297 million earned last fall by 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon.'

In fourth place, 'Toy Story 3' lost only a quarter of last week's business and took in another $22 million. In four weeks, it's earned $340.2 million, enough to squeak past 'Finding Nemo' (by $500,000) to become Pixar's biggest hit to date. It also overtook 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Iron Man 2' to become the top-grossing movie so far in 2010.

Rounding out the top five was 'The Last Airbender,' whose business dipped by 58 percent, to $17.2 million. Still, that was enough for the fantasy's 11-day total to cross the $100 million mark, all but ensuring M. Night Shyamalan's plan to film an 'Airbender' trilogy.

The full top 10:
1. 'Despicable Me,' $60.1 million (3,476 screens), new release
2. 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,' $33.4 million (4,468), $237.0 million total
3. 'Predators,' $25.3 million (2,669), new release
4. 'Toy Story 3,' $22.0 million (3,753), $340.2 million
5. 'The Last Airbender,' $17.2 million (3,203), $100.2 million
6. 'Grown Ups,' $16.4 million (3,463), $111.3 million
7. 'Knight & Day,' $7.9 million (2,628), $61.9 million
8. 'The Karate Kid,' $5.7 million (2,458), $164.6 million
9. 'The A-Team,' $1.8 million (1,236), $74.0 million
10. 'Cyrus,' $1.4 million (200), $3.5 million

Top 10 movies of summer 2010:
1. 'Toy Story 3,' $340.2 million
2. 'Iron Man 2,' $309.2 million
3. 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,' $237.0 million
4. 'Shrek Forever After,' $233.7 million
5. 'The Karate Kid,' $164.6 million
6. 'Grown Ups,' $111.3 million
7. 'Robin Hood,' $104.5 million
8. 'The Last Airbender,' $100.25 million
9. 'Sex and the City 2,' $94.5 million
10. 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,' $90.0 million

•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.