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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pixar's sky high as 'Up' soars to $68.2m debut, May 29-31, 2009

Disney-Pixar's computer-animated family film Up dominated the box office in its debut, raking in a whopping $68.2 million. Directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc), the well-reviewed pic represented the first ever 3-D release by Disney's Pixar Animation Studios, as well as the studio's tenth straight No. 1 opening.

The impressive debut ranks as the third biggest in Pixar's illustrious history, finishing behind only the studio's blockbuster hits "Finding Nemo" with $70.2m and "The Incredibles" with $70.5m. Released in 2004, The Incredibles finished with $260m domestic while 2003's Finding Nemo raked in $339.7m, still Pixar's highest grossing film ever.

Featuring the unusual combination of a grumpy old man, a young kid and a floating house, heavy skepticism from Wall Street about the film's financial viability weighed down many predictions for a big opening weekend. Most analysts projected a $50-60 million weekend.

But thanks to a successful premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, glowing reviews (critics polled by rottentomatoes.com gave the film a 98% "fresh" score) and a huge marketing campaign from Disney, the film posted the fourth biggest opening of 2009 and sixth biggest opening ever for an animated release. It was the biggest animated feature opening since 2007's summer hit The Simpsons Movie bowed with $74 million, and the third biggest non-sequel animated debut of all-time (behind only The Incredibles and Finding Nemo). Pixar's Up also compared favorably to its rival studio DreamWorks Animation, whose hits Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar 2 managed $60.2 million and $63.1 million respectively last year.

Delving into the details for the weekend, Disney has got to feel good about the long-term prospects for Pixar's latest effort. Nearly a third of the opening weekend audience were adults without children and 5% were over the age of 50, an unusually high number for an animated release, indicating just how broad the demographic reach of the film was. Also encouraging was audience reaction to the film, with moviegoers polled by Cinemascore giving the film an incredible A+ rating.

Those internals were supported by a healthy 24% increase in ticket sales from Friday to Saturday, indicating strong word of mouth. Given the hefty price tag, the stakes are high for Up to perform well in theaters. Pixar films have lately performed much stronger internationally, and the bulk of its overseas release date takes place in the fall. The film did open in Russia to $4.2 million, Pixar's biggest opening ever in that country.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You mean fourth biggest weekend debu for a non sequel animated film. Up trails Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and The Simpsons Movie.