Pixar Studios, the last film house in Hollywood that draws an audience on its name alone, scored its 10th straight No. 1 film as Upsoared above the competition this weekend.
The animated comedy about a widower and young boy who travel in a flying house raked in $68.2 million, according to studio estimates from Nielsen EDI.
The debut slightly exceeded the expectations of analysts — who expect a lot from the studio behind Finding Nemo, WALL·E and Toy Story.
And the film delivered on virtually every count, scoring an A-plus from CinemaScore and a recommendation from 98% of the nation’s films critics, according to RottenTomatoes.com.
“Pixar rarely has big stars in its movies,” says Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com. “Ed Asner (the star voice of Up) is not known for opening big. Pixar relies on their reputation for quality. And they’re 10 for 10.”
Chuck Viane, distribution chief for Disney, which distributes Pixar’s films, says that while families drove Up‘s business, nearly a third of the audience was adults without children.
“I think Pixar has a way of turning stories into ‘gotta see’ movies for adults,” Viane says. “They get an unusually even blend of ages.”
Up marked the third-largest Pixar debut, behind The Incredibles‘ $70.5 million and Finding Nemo‘s $70.3 million.
The studio has created anticipation for its films with patience. Up is only the 10th film in the studio’s 14-year history.
“They take their time,” Viane says. “They’ll tweak a story over and over until they’re satisfied. The highest compliment you can pay to them is they’re in no rush and get the job done right.”
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was second with $25.5 million for a 10-day total of $105.3 million.
Despite stellar reviews, Sam Raimi’s return to schlock horror with Drag Me to Hell managed only third place and $16.8 million. Most analysts projected the horror film, which earned thumbs-up from 94% of reviewers, to collect at least $20 million.
Terminator Salvation ($16.1 million) was fourth, followed by Star Trek ($12.8 million).
Ticket sales dipped 24% from last weekend and 1% from the same weekend last year. Final numbers are out today.
1. “Up”, 68,2 millon
2. “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian”, 25,5
With its 10th film, Disney-Pixar adds to what is an already impressive collection of animated features that have delighted kids and adults alike since the mid 90s. In the tradition of its predecessors, UP not only stretches the imagination, but through the familiar qualities we see in their characters, also manages to galvanize our hearts into action. Quietly, and simply put, Pixar has become the brand we can trust to inspire.
UP, follows the touching story of a 78 year old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner), who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the jungles of South America. But he soon discovers that he won’t be alone on his journey – an 8 year old ‘wilderness explorer’ named Russell is inadvertently on board.
Despite its impeccable record of hit films, Pixar doesn’t simply follow a formula that has worked for them in the past. They continuously explore new territory and with last year’s Wall-E even go as far as making daring social political commentary. Of course it’s all hidden underneath a score of lovable characters and a hilarious string of jokes.
UP however, seems to push the envelope even further by introducing some sobering moments we’re not used to seeing in ‘kid movies’. Trust me, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see them. While navigating between these type of scenes and the lighthearted ones is something director Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) does swiftly, it also presents the film’s most challenging and uncomfortable moments. Notwithstanding, you’ll be in for an hour an a half of absolute fun.
It is hard to say where UP ranks among the other Pixar classics, but as of now it is one genre-bending unpredictable animated family action comedy for all age groups.