Box Office: ‘Brave’ hits the mark with a $24.5 million Friday

Does anyone remember how dire things seemed for the Walt Disney Company just a few months ago?  The studio took a huge loss with March’s “John Carter,” which lead to the ouster of Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross.  Boy have things turned around.  “The Avengers” has pretty much wiped the competition on the floor with a jaw-dropping $1.4 billion worldwide.  Friday, Disney received another gift as Pixar’s “Brave” debuted to a stellar $24.5 million.

The positively-reviewed animated adventure opened on a gigantic 4,164 screens and over 2,700 are them are screening it in 3D which means higher ticket prices. Still, a possible $70 million weekend is significantly higher than pre-release polling which expected a figure in the low 60’s.  If it can hit the $70 million mark, it will be Pixar’s biggest non-“Toy Story” debut since 2009’s “Up” which grossed $68.1 million over its opening weekend. “Brave” is poised to have a strong run with “Ice Age: Continental Drift” not debuting until July 13.

Opening under expectations was 20th Century Fox’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”  The adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s best selling novel was expected to gross somewhere between $20-22 million over the three-day.  Instead, the Timur Bekmambetov directed recon thriller found only $6.3 million on Friday for what could be a $15-17 million at best. The film, which speculates that the former President spent his free time battling Confederate Vampires, was a hard sell for Fox.  The studio took the scenario as seriously as possible in its marketing and execution, but by doing so it may have limited the audience for the genre mash-up. 

Dropping to third place and holding somewhat well against the new family film competition is “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.” The DreamWorks Animation threequel earned another $6.1 million on Friday for $143.4 million in less than three weeks.

Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” finally crossed the $100 million barrier after picking up another $2.9 million on Friday, bringing its total to $101.4 million.

The Tom Cruise rock musical “Rock of Ages” continued to struggle, coming in fifth place with $2.3 million. The Adam Shankman-directed film has so far earned just $23.2 million. 

Look for complete weekend estimates Sunday on HitFix.