Disney/Pixar’s “Up” soared over rivals to dominate the domestic weekend box office with an estimated $68.2 million at 3,766 playdates. Boosted by a huge 3-D push, pic’s buoyant perf maintains Pixar’s long B.O. winning streak.
Frame underlined the power of family fare, with Fox’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” leading the rest of the pack, declining 53% for the three days to $25.5 million at 4,101. Universal’s counterprogrammer “Drag Me to Hell” followed with a moderate launch of $16.6 million at 2,508, edging the soph sesh of Warner Bros.’ fast-fading “Terminator Salvation.”
“Up,” buoyed by a massive promo push and excellent notices, posted a stellar $18,110 per-location average. It scored a 98% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes review site and an A-plus on Cinemascore.
Most significantly, “Up” received an extra lift from 1,534 3-D venues, which charge a premium of about $2 per ticket. Disney domestic distribution topper Chuck Viane said the 3-D sites generated an average for “Up” — Pixar’s first 3-D pic — that was 2.2 times that of conventional locations.
That would mean about a $24,000 average and a $36 million cume for the 3-D sites, though Disney didn’t disclose exact numbers. “If there was any issue, it was that there were not enough 3-D seats, but that usually meant that people then went to a regular screen,” Viane noted.
The “Up” debut marked the third biggest Pixar opening weekend after 2004’s “The Incredibles” ($70.5 million) and 2003’s “Finding Nemo” ($70.3 million). The Mouse House reported 31% of the audience consisted of moppets aged 2-11 — allaying concerns that a toon starring a grouchy old man voiced by Ed Asner would face difficulties in attracting kids.
In a single foreign launch, “Up” grabbed $4.2 million at 560 in Russia, including 130 3-D sites, marking the top Russian opening for a Pixar entry. The Mouse House has opted for a staggered foreign release on “Up,” much as it did on “Wall-E” and “Ratatouille,” with launches next weekend in Mexico and Ukraine.
“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” managed to maintain decent holding power against “Up,” according to Fox senior VP Chris Aronson, who said the marketplace expanded to accommodate both pics.
“With more kids out of school each week, I think both films are going to continue doing very well,” he added.
The sequel’s already grossed 42% of the final $251 million domestic total for the original “Night at the Museum.”
“Smithsonian” topped “Angels and Demons” at the weekend’s international box office as the comedy sequel scored $37.2 million at 9,000 playdates in 100 markets. China turned in the top “Museum” number with a launch of $7.4 million, the biggest Fox opening ever in that market, and finished first in the U.K. with $3.5 million and second in Germany to “Angels” with $2.8 million.
“Smithsonian” has cumed $106 million on the foreign front, a third of the eye-popping $323 million international total for the original “Night at the Museum.”
“Drag Me to Hell” came in below outside forecasts but in line with studio expectations, according to U distribution chief Nikki Rocco. “It was a solid start,” Rocco said, who asserted that “Drag Me to Hell” should benefit in coming weeks from a slew of positive reviews.
Pic, which carries a PG-13 rating and marks director Sam Raimi’s return to his horror roots, drew mostly from the under-25 demo and skewed slightly female. Mandate Intl. reported “Drag Me to Hell” scared up $4.4 million at 700 in day-and-date launches in France, Israel and the U.K.
“Terminator Salvation” found traction elusive as it fell 62% to $16.1 million at 3,602. The fourth outing in the franchise has cumed $90.7 million domestically in 11 days and won’t finish its run anywhere near the $150 million final cume for 2003’s “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”
On the foreign side, “Terminator Salvation” took in $13 million, including Sony’s $8.6 million at 673 in seven Asian market launches and another $4.4 million from the second frame in South Korea, handled by a local distrib. Sony takes “T4” into most major markets next weekend.
Paramount’s “Star Trek,” which may have lured some of the “T4” audience, remained a solid performer in its fourth frame with $12.8 million at 3,507. “Trek” has cumed $209.5 million domestically, becoming the year’s first title to cross the double century mark.
“Star Trek” also beamed up $8 million in foreign coin at 4,869 locations in 59 territories, led by a $2.2 million Japanese launch. Foreign cume — by far the best of the 11 “Trek” films — has reached $101.5 million.
Sony’s third weekend of “Angels and Demons” declined 48% to $11.2 million at 3,464 and continued to show far more traction overseas with $32.9 million at 10,145 in 101 markets for an international total of $251.7 million — by far the biggest 2009 pic in international markets with more than double the domestic cume of $104.8 million.
That’s a similar pattern to 2006’s “The Da Vinci Code,” which also starred Tom Hanks and was directed by Ron Howard from a Dan Brown novel. “Da Vinci” took in $217 million in the U.S. and $540 million overseas.
This weekend “Smithsonian” and “Angels” became the eighth and ninth pics this year to crack the $100 million mark at the domestic box office.
Par’s soph sesh of “Dance Flick” slid 54% to finish seventh with $4.9 million at 2450, followed by the fifth frames of Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” with $3.9 million and Warner/New Line’s “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” with $1.9 million.
On the foreign side, “Wolverine” put its claws on $8.1 million at 5,000, including $4.4 million from its delayed Mexican launch for the top 2009 opener in that market. “Wolverine” has cumed $170.1 million outside the U.S., nearly matching the domestic total.
On the domestic specialty front, Summit’s expansion of “Brothers Bloom” nearly cracked the top 10 with $652,000 at 148. Instead the 10th spot went to Sony/Screen Gems’ sixth weekend of “Obsessed” with $665,000 at 679 for a $67.5 million cume.
Regent Releasing’s launch of Japanese drama “Departures” scored $72,701 at nine screens, three months after the pic won the foreign-language film Oscar. IFC’s French drama “Summer Hours” clocked in with $208,000 at 38 to raise its cume to $578,000, and Sony Classics’ period comedy “Easy Virtue” took in $187,000 at 26 in its second frame.