‘Up’ Claims Pixar’s Third Biggest Debut

“Museum 2” makes another $25.5 million; Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell” scares up $16.6 million.

Last Updated: June 1, 2009 @ 7:46 PM

Disney-Pixar’s “Up” took off with $68.2 million at the box office this weekend, becoming the tenth Pixar film in a row to open at no. 1. The film could have grossed even more, Disney said, if more movie theaters were able to show 3D.

This weekend was the latest in what appears to be a much slower summer compared with the box office’s rapid growth in 2009’s first quarter. Revenues and attendance are still up from 2008, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen a mid-budget breakout hit such as "Taken," "Fast & Furious" or Paul Blart." 


“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” made another $25.5 million this weekend, overtaking a somewhat disappointing opening to newcomer “Drag Me to Hell,” which landed in third place with $16.6 million. 

And there was much rejoicing on the Paramount lot as “Star Trek” took the title of highest grossing film of the year so far away from “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

“Up’s” take is the third biggest debut for a Pixar movie, behind “The Incredibles’” $70.5 million debut in 2004 and “Finding Nemo’s” $70.3 million in 2003.

The new CG adventure featuring the voices of Edward Asner and Christopher Plummer beat “Wall-E’s” $63.1 million opening weekend last June.

As expected, “Up’s” 1,524 3-D screens — out of 3,700 total — contributed significantly to its weekend gross. Disney reported that the per-screen average for 3-D screens was twice as high as the average for conventional screens.

But Chuck Viane, president of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, said the lack of seating in 3-D theaters prevented “Up” from flying even higher.

“The auditoriums are smaller, so we kept selling out,” Viane said. “We couldn’t expand that part of the audience. We just don’t have enough seats available yet.”

Viane reported that “Up’s” audience was 52 percent female, and 69 percent were over the age of 12.

“Whether it was an 11 a.m. show or an 11 p.m. show, we had very sizeable crowds. You could tell based on the time of day. There were mostly families for the early shows and the late matinees and when the evening came the adults took over,” he said.

Ticket sales increased 25 percent on Saturday after opening with a solid $21.4 million on Friday.

Family crowds also kept last week’s box-office winner aloft at No. 2. Ticket sales for “Museum” raked in $25.5 million — a 53 percent drop from its $54 million three-day take on Memorial weekend.

“Drag Me To Hell,” Sam Raimi’s highly anticipated return to horror, debuted with $16.6 million and third place.

Universal Pictures distribution president Nikki Rocco, who on Friday predicted the horror/comedy would land in the late teens to early 20s, said: “It’s not bad. It’s a solid opening for a horror film that’s perfectly counterprogrammed against the top two films,” Rocco said. “Hopefully, it’ll find a good little niche in the marketplace.”

Rocco reported that 52 percent of “Hell’s” audience was female and 54 percent were under the age of 25.

“You always hope for more. It’s a minimal risk for Universal because we acquired the rights from Mandate. Our expectations are roughly where it was,” she added.

“Terminator: Salvation” was right on “Hell’s” heels with $16.1 million — a somewhat dramatic 62 percent drop from the $42.5 million it made on Friday, Saturday and Sunday last weekend. However, the sequel is gaining momentum and is $10 million away from crossing the $100 million mark.

“Star Trek” had much to celebrate in the No. 5 spot. “Trek,” which took in $12.8 million this weekend, has accumulated $209.5 million in North America in its four weeks of release. J.J. Abrams critically adored reboot now stands as the highest grossing film of 2009. “Monsters vs. Aliens” is No. 2, having grossed $194 million in 10 weeks of release.

“Angels & Demons” continued to drum up incredible overseas dollars. Sony’s thriller placed sixth with 11.2 million on the North American chart, but has racked up $356.4 million worldwide in three weeks of release.

It is expected to make 70% of its box office revenues overseas.

Last week’s comedy debut “Dance Flick” came in seventh with $4.9 million, adding to a cumulative box-office of almost $19.2 million. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” contributed another $3.9 million to its $170 million take in five weeks. “Ghost of Girlfriends Past” hung on in the top ten with $1.9 million this weekend followed by “Obsessed” with $665,000.

“The Brothers Bloom” continued to top the indies. The comedy that added 90 theaters this weekend grossed $652,000 in three days and stands with a cumulative gross of $1.4 million.

Regent’s Japanese import “Departures,” landed on the North American chart at No. 14, grossing $75,000 in ten theaters.

Box office information has not been made available for Sony’s “What Goes Up,” IFC’s “Ponypool” and Yari Film Group’s “The Lonely Maiden.”