‘Toy Story 3’ buoys summer box office

Disney/Pixar 3D toon plays to estimated $158 million globally

Toy Story 3” showed the sunny side of the summer box office, charming an estimated $153.8 million worldwide during its first weekend of global playtime.

Disney/Pixar’s 3D toon lifted the domestic B.O. a whopping 30% over the same weekend last year, contributing an estimated $109 million at 4,028 Stateside locations; while overseas figures reached an estimated $44.8 million in only 25% of the international market. Toon now stands as highest-grossing June opening in the U.S.

Stateside auds showed little enthusiasm for Warner Bros.’ supernatural comicbook adaptation “Jonah Hex,” which fell short during the Father’s Day fray, earning a disappointing $5.1 million at 2,825 locations.

Meanwhile, the weekend’s ace holdovers, led by soph sesh entries “The Karate Kid” and “The A-Team,” added considerable punch to the robust frame, which also saw a solid start for Fox Searchlight’s “Cyrus,” earning $180,289 at four locations for a per-screen average of $45,072.

Sony’s “Karate Kid” tallied an estimated $29 million at 3,663 engagements, down 48%, compared to a 46% drop for 20th Century Fox’s “A-Team,” with $13.8 million at 3,544.

Boosted by higher 3D ticket prices, which accounted for 60% of its domestic gross, “Toy 3” became Pixar’s highest-grossing opener, surpassing “The Incredibles,” which debuted with $70.5 million in 2004. All 11 of Pixar’s toons have opened in the No. 1 B.O. spot domestically, including last year’s “Up” with a $68.1 million opening weekend.

“Toy 3’s” take was behind that of the Mouse House’s latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” installments and 3D fantasy “Alice in Wonderland,” which saw a higher percentage — 71% — of its $116.1 million opening coin come from 3D-equipped screens.

Disney prexy of global distribution Chuck Viane said while “Toy 3” screened at 2,463 digital 3D locations — the most of any film so far — the toon’s 2D print count heavily outnumbered 3D because of multiple 3D titles still in the market and limited 3D screens, meaning exhibs offered more 2D screenings to handle overflow.

Paramount and DreamWorks Animation’s 3D toon “Shrek Forever After” grossed $5.5 million, down a steep 65% in its fifth frame. Toon’s domestic cume stands at an estimated $223 million.

Large-screen exhib Imax, which ended its four-week run of “Shrek” this weekend, screened “Toy 3” at 180 locations for a record-setting $8.4 million (8%) of the toon’s total opening gross. “This is a particularly exciting way to join the Disney/Pixar club, with many more to come,” said Imax prexy Greg Foster.

“Toy 3” — Imax’s first Disney/Pixar film — stands as the company’s highest-grossing toon opener, beating the $5.1 million benchmark set last year by “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

Playing mostly to families, “Toy 3” also attracted a substantial portion of filmgoers aged 17-24. Viane credited the film’s varied interest to aggressive marketing campaigns on college campuses, as well as a built-in fanbase among older auds. The franchise’s first two offerings have cumed a collective $437.6 million, with an additional $30.7 million after last year’s 3D re-releases.

“In the beginning, the ‘Toy Story’ movies were just considered family films,” Viane said. “But now, this group of characters has become family.”

The third installment reunites original voice cast members, including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, with new toys including a Ken doll (Michael Keaton) and a strawberry-scented teddy bear named Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (Ned Beatty). It was directed and co-scripted by Lee Unkrich, who was co-director on “Toy Story 2.” Pixar vets John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, along with “Little Miss Sunshine” scribe Michael Arndt, also share writing credits.

“Jonah Hex,” which tells the story of a beyond-the-grave bounty hunter out for revenge in the Wild West, is directed by Jimmy Hayward and toplines Josh Brolin, Megan Fox and John Malkovich.

Budgeted near $35 million, pic repped a significant disappointment for Warner Bros. Warner exec VP of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein said the film, based on a DC comicbook, will face an uphill battle attracting much of a following in subsequent frames.

While “Hex” failed to gain much traction with moviegoers, Fox scored sold-out sneak previews for next week’s wide entry “Knight and Day” at 500 locations. Early tracking for the film has been lukewarm, but Fox said it hopes positive early reactions, coupled with 85% capacity, will translate to more reconitition when the film launches Wednesday.

Pic screened with “Marmaduke” on Saturday only, helping boost grosses for the family film a massive 78% that day. “Marmaduke” dropped a total 56% in its third frame, taking in an estimated $2.7 million, bringing its cume to a modest $27.9 million.

Also in its third outing, Universal’s R-rated laffer “Get Him to the Greek” held well, slipping 38% for an estimated weekend take of $6.1 million. Pic’s domestic gross now stands at $47.9 million.

Searchlight’s “Cyrus,” toplined by Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei, scored the year’s second-highest per-screen average to date behind Summit’s “The Ghost Writer,” averaging $45,752 per screen. Fox Searchlight will expand “Cyrus” to 17 locations next weekend in Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., with plans to rollout wide July 16.

“We’re off and running with full houses,” said Fox Searchlight prexy Steve Gilula. “It shows that the indie audience is out there waiting for a film to get excited about.”

Magnolia’s Italian-lingo pic “I Am Love,” starring Tilda Swinton and directed by Luca Guadagnino, opened at eight locations in New York and L.A., earning an estimated $125,000 for a healthy per-screen average of $15,625.

IFC launched two pics in New York, Michael Winterbottom’s “The Killer Inside Me” and Agnes Jaoui’s “Let It Rain.” “Killer” scored $12,000 at one location, while “Let It Rain” grossed an estimated $16,000 at two engagements. Both films were released day and date on VOD.

Despite a delayed rollout in most major overseas markets because of the soccer World Cup, “Toy 3” still topped the international B.O., earning top results in most markets.

In Mexico, the pic became the highest-grossing opening for a toon in that territory, with an estimated $14.3 million. Other Latin American markets, including Brazil and Argentina, helped the region post an overall $25 million. China also saw impressive results, with an estimated $9.5 million.

Falling behind “Toy 3” were holdovers Warner’s “Sex and the City 2” and Disney’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.” Both films have seen profitable runs overseas as “Sex” added $13 million from 58 markets to an overseas total of $157.2 million; “Prince” totaled $10.2 million in 54 territories for a cume of $213.1 million internationally.

Meanwhile, “A-Team” expanded to 13 additional markets in its soph sesh, grossing $14 million in 48 territories. France led the attack, with $3 million on 652 screens, followed by Italy, with $1.2 million on 353. “A-Team’s” international total stands at $34.7 million.

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