Box Office: ‘Brave’ keeps Pixar hot with $66.7 million debut

Anyone who thinks the Pixar brand might be in trouble after the critical drubbing “Cars 2” took last summer is sadly mistaken.  The studio’s first “fairy tale,” “Brave,” had a spectacular debut this weekend grossing $66.7 million. That’s slightly higher than “Cars 2’s” $66.5 million a year ago.

The positively-reviewed animated adventure opened on a gigantic 4,164 screens and over 2,700 are them are screening it in 3D which, of course, means higher ticket prices. The good news for Pixar and its owner, the Walt Disney Company, is that unlike most family films “Brave” had a stronger Friday ($24.5 million) than Saturday ($23.3 million).  That would normally be worrisome, but in this case it is more evidence of a hardcore fanbase for Pixar’s films showing up on the first day (“Twilight” films, for instance, play the same way opening weekend).  With no new family fare entering the marketplace until “Ice Age: Continental Drift” on July 13, “Brave” should have a strong run for the next few weeks.

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 $16.5 million for the fame. 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 second place and holding somewhat well against the new family film competition was “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.” The DreamWorks Animation threequel earned another $20.2 million for the weekend. and $157.5 million in less than three weeks. “Madgascar 3” should easily surpass the last installment’s $180 million gross meaning a fourth adventure is likely on the way.

Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” finally crossed the $100 million barrier after picking up another $10 million on Friday, bringing its total to $108.5 million.  The semi-“Alien” prequel has scared up $260.9 million worldwide so far.

Of note, Focus Features had a mixed weekend.  On one hand, the commercial potential of Steve Carell and Keira Knightly in “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” didn’t pan out as the dramedy grossed just $3.8 million in 1,600 plus theaters.  The film has a reported budget of $10 million, but Focus spent TV money hoping for a bigger national opening which didn’t pan out.  On the other hand, the studio’s critical Cannes wonder “Moonrise Kingdom” jumped to 395 theaters and had a superb $8,635 per screen and $3.4 million for $11.6 million to date. At this point, it’s hard to see “Kingdom” not crossing the $20 million mark and becoming the second breakout art house hit of the year after Fox Searchlight’s “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”  That AARP dramedy now has an eyebrow raising $38.3 million in the bank.

Opening just in New York was Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love.”  Allen’s first film since the Oscar winning “Midnight in Paris” grossed $379,000 in just five theaters for a sparkling $75,000 per screen.  That’s Allen’s second best per screen debut ever after “Paris” shocked with $99,000 per in just six a year ago.

New releases on Friday include “Magic Mike,” “Ted,” “Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Witness Protection” and “People Like Us.”

Box office actuals are released on Monday.

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);