Pixar nails six in a row

Incredible run keeps going with $71 mil

Make it six in a row for Pixar.

The CGI studio extended its perfect streak with “The Incredibles,” which opened at $70.7 million from 3,933 theaters.

Disney set a slew of studio records this weekend. For starters, opening is the best in the studio’s history, outpacing that of the last Pixar toon, “Finding Nemo,” which bowed in May 2003 with $70.3 million.

Beyond the spectacular bow for “Incredibles,” the weekend saw some solid holds for adult fare, including the No. 2 pic “Ray,” from Universal and Bristol Bay Prods., which dipped 31% to $13.8 million in its sophomore session.

Following the biopic was Sony’s “The Grudge” with $13.5 million in its third week (sending cume to $89.6 million) and Lions Gate’s “Saw” with $11.4 million in its second week (cume: $35.7 million). Both pics were down 38%, especially modest drops in the horror genre.

Also noteworthy was Miramax’s “Shall We Dance,” which was down just 10% in its fourth week with $5.7 million. Cume is $42.1 million.

Opening weakly over the frame at No. 5 was Paramount’s “Alfie,” which drew $6.5 million from 2,215 locations.

“Everything went right,” said Disney distrib chief Chuck Viane of the “Incredibles” opening. “It’s the classic example of the historic collaboration of Disney and Pixar.”

In addition to the best Disney opening, “Incredibles,” which battles Warners’ “The Polar Express” for the family aud starting Wednesday, also set the record for the best single day for the studio with $29.4 million on Saturday.

“Incredibles” also outpaced the 2001 Pixar title “Monsters, Inc.” to become the biggest opening November toon (“Monsters” bowed to $62.6 million). Disney has dominated the November toon market, already claiming the eight highest-grossing releases in the month.

Viane said studio exit surveys showed families accounted for 62% of the weekend crowd. But, he noted, that the 38% of adults and teens attending without any children is higher than normal for a toon. “Typically, it takes a week or two for that segment to become that significant a portion of the audience,” he said.

As for “Alfie,” Paramount said its surveys found the aud was dominated by adult femmes, with 69% female and 69% over age 25.

New Line snuck “After the Sunset,” which opens on Nov. 12, at about 1,000 locations on Saturday and said it filled about 85% of its seats. Aud came in evenly split between men and women, with most over the age 30, according to its polls.

Limited appeal

On the limited side of the biz, Paramount Classics bowed Jay-Z concert reel “Fade to Black” to $475,648 from 170 screens. That made for an average of $2,798 per screen. Distrib’s “The Machinist,” in its third week, grossed $61,255 from 13 screens, averaging $4,712, while “Enduring Love” picked up $63,000 in its sophomore session from 24 engagements, averaging $2,625.

Fox Searchlight continues to have success with “Sideways” in select markets. Playing on 66 screens in its third week, pic grossed a little under $1.1 million over the three-day span, averaging $16,136 per screen. Cume is $1.9 million. Distrib head Steve Giulula said plans for expansion call for widening to 150 screens this coming Friday, to 400 on Nov. 15 and finally to a national release pattern by Thanksgiving.

Searchlight’s “I Heart Huckabees” grossed $1.1 million over the weekend from 585 screens, averaging $1,880 in its sixth week. Cume is $10.2 million.

In its fourth week, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Being Julia” grossed $388,534 from 104 screens, giving it an average of $3,736. Cume is a shade shy of $1.3 million.

Focus also saw its “The Motorcycle Diaries” break into eight digits. In its seventh week, now playing on 268 screens, it picked up $966,141 this weekend, an average of $3,605. Cume on the Che Guevera bio is $10.6 million.

“Incredibles” was not able to lift the overall box office market out of its funk, however. Nielsen EDI estimates total weekend biz at $145 million, down 6% from the comparison week in 2003, when “The Matrix Revolutions” and “Elf” opened. Year-to-date, box office is at $7.641 billion, up 2.1% from the $7.480 billion at this point last year.

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