Pixar toon tops frame with $66 mil; 'Lincoln' earns soft $16.5 mil

Pixar kept its perfect No. 1 domestic openings streak this weekend as “Brave” scored a hearty $66.7 million from 4,164 locations. But auds largely rejected the 3D version, with 66% opting to see it in 2D.

“Brave,” which opened on the widest number of screens ever for a Disney-Pixar pic, saw the company’s fifth-highest opening, far outpacing the weekend’s other new entries. Fox’s R-rated “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” staked out a modest $16.5 million, while Focus Features’ “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” underperformed with just $3.8 million from 1,625 locations (by comparison, “Moonrise Kingdom” tallied $3.4 million from only 395 engagements in its fifth weekend for Focus).

Behind “Moonrise,” Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love,” from Sony Pictures Classics, scored the year’s second-best opening per-screen average of $75,874 from five locations.

Though “Brave” performed well, domestic totals still trailed last year by around 10%. Overseas, “Brave” grossed an estimated $13.5 million from 10 territories, a modest take considering it opened in major markets for 3D toons like Russia ($5.6 million) and China ($2.2 million). Playability on the mainland seems promising, however, since “Brave” marks the last foreign film to bow before the country’s 30-day government-imposed blackout period.

The weekend success for “Brave” — slightly better than Pixar’s “Cars 2,” which earned $66.1 million this same frame last year — points to Pixar’s consistent appeal beyond families.

“This isn’t a princess movie,” said Disney distrib topper Dave Hollis. “It’s a Pixar movie that features a princess.”

“Brave” has scant family competition until Fox bows its fourth “Ice Age” installment, “Continental Drift,” on July 13. “Lincoln,” meanwhile, will have to compete for adult male interest as soon as Friday, when Universal launches R-rated comedy “Ted.”

The weekend’s two widest Stateside releases saw disparate 3D results: “Brave” earned a 34% weekend 3D share, poor even for lower family-film standards, while “Abraham Lincoln” did somewhat better, with 45% buying 3D tickets. “Brave” did even worse in 3D than “Cars 2,” which saw last summer’s opening 3D low point of 40%.

The poor 3D showing for “Brave” has Disney execs stumped, especially since the format had been gaining ground. “I don’t have a line yet,” admitted Hollis, who added that the studio will address the issue in exit polls. “It’ll be a wait-and-see thing for me.”

Even family pics seem to have found their 3D floor: “Madagascar 3,” which has cumed $157.6 million domestically, earned 45% of its opening from 3D. Fox’s “Ice Age” will be the next test.

“Brave,” budgeted at a pricey $185 million, played more evenly between the genders than some expected, with a 57%-43% female-male split. Families accounted for 66% of the toon’s weekend gross, while couples and teenagers both contributed significant shares.

“Abraham Lincoln” drew a healthy 47% under-25 contingency considering the pic’s R rating. “I think that’s an interesting outcome that bodes well for playability,” said Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson.

“Lincoln,” which cost $69 million to produce, received a poor C+ CinemaScore rating. Aronson said the film fared better with the studio’s own proprietary exit polls, which featured a larger aud sample.

Fox released “Lincoln” at a smattering of markets this weekend, including Russia and the U.K., the latter of which saw depressed results ($1.7 million) because of the Euro Cup quarterfinals. In Russia, “Lincoln” earned $3.9 million — second only to “Brave” locally.

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