Sony’s marketing machine marches on: “Zombieland” opened No. 1 at the weekend box office, giving the studio its sixth first-place debut of the year. The horror-comedy hybrid sold an estimated $25 million in tickets at North American theaters, according to tracking services. The entry to watch, however, was Disney’s experiment in using 3-D to repackage the Pixar classics “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2.” The films, re-rendered in 3-D and released as a double feature, sold an estimated $12.5 million, placed third — behind a three-week-old animated entry from Sony, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.” (That movie sold another $16.7 million for a cumulative total of $82.4 million.)
So Disney did a successful job priming the market for “Toy Story 3,” set for release in June, but so far failed to prove any points about the goldmine potential of re-releasing old hits in 3-D. The Ricky Gervais comedy “The Invention of Lying” (Warner Brothers) was fourth with about $7.4 million, while “Surrogates” (Disney) limped into fifth place with $7.3 million ($26.4 million total). The only other wide release, “Whip It,” fared poorly in sixth place. The Fox Searchlight comedy, backed by a months-long marketing campaign and featuring the talents of Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page, sold about $4.9 million.