By Brian Fuson | Thompson on Hollywood June 24, 2012 at 11:56AM
Pixar added another feather in its cap as Disney’s “Brave” racked up a sturdy $66.74 million to capture the top spot at the box office on its debut in North America this weekend. The opening for “Brave” marked the 13th consecutive first place finish for the animation company started by Steve Jobs. The PG-rated family friendly film far outpaced the weekend's two other wide releases, both R-rated.
Overall, Toons took the top two box office slots, taking in just under $90 million between them. Paramount’s “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” from DreamWorks was in the second spot with close to $20.2 million, advancing its cume to nearly $157.6 million after three weekends.
Twentieth Century Fox’s R-rated “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” staked out the third slot with an estimated $16.5 million on its debut, which was at the low end of expectations for the fictional supernatural horror thriller.
And another R-rated wide release, Focus Features’ “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” opened in far fewer theaters with just 1,625 runs, but summoned only a 10th place finish with a meager estimate of around $4 million for the apocalyptic comedy drama starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.
The summer boxoffice has been dominated by family friendly films for the past three weeks. Seven films have opened in wide release during the past three weekends, four rated R, one PG-13, and the two PG-rated films, “Brave” and “Madagascar 3” have outperformed everything else in the marketplace by a wide margin.
“Brave” was directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman and voiced by Kelly Macdonald, Bill Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane and Craig Ferguson. The story isn’t your typical Disney princess, but follows feisty Scottish Highlands princess Merida, who is a skilled archer and fights to save the kingdom.
“Brave” opened in 10 international territories this weekend and grossed around $13.5 million, bringing its worldwide tally to roughly $80.2 million so far. The animated action adventure film had a reported budget of around $185 million. Among only Pixar releases, the debut of “Brave” was the fifth highest, behind “Toy Story 3” with $110.3 million; “The Incredibles” with $70.5 million; “Finding Nemo” with $70.3 million; and “Up” with $68.1 million. Aiding “Brave” on its boxoffice quest this weekend was higher priced 3D tickets, as nearly two-thirds of the 4,164 theaters were showing the film in 3-D.
Demographically “Brave” skewed female with 57% and those under the age of 25 were also in the majority with 57%. The legs look good on this princess tale as audiences gave the film a sterling CinemaScore of “A” and critics liked it too with 74% grading the picture positively.
“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” was based on the bestselling novel of the same name, written by Seth Grahame-Smith, and carried a reported budget of around $69 million. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the horror-thriller stars Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie and Mary Elizabeth Winsteadl. Tim Burton produces along with Bekmambetov.
“Our opening was right in line with our pre-release expectations. I think it’s an interesting and untested genre and that audiences will continue to seek it out,” said Chris Aronson, EVP and General Sales Manager for 20th Century Fox. Aronson also noted that while the film only opened in a few international markets this weekend, the prospects for the film internationally were good.
The story is about how the real reason for the Civil War was to stop the U.S. from being enslaved by vampires, and that the President was the chief executive in charge of vampire hunting. Not surprisingly audiences leaned more male with 56% and slightly older with 53% being 25 and up. The film may have an uphill battle in the weeks ahead as it received an unpromising “C+” CinemaScore from audiences and a weak 39% fresh grade from critics, according to RottenTomatoes.com, although Aronson noted that Fox’s own exit polls gave the film higher marks.
“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” was written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, and features an ensemble cast including Carell, Knightley, Patton Oswalt, Rob Corddry, Adam Brody and Derek Luke. “Seeking” is a dark comedy about the end of the world as an asteroid threatens to end all life on earth. Carell stars as an insurance salesman ditched by his wife; he falls for the free-spirited Knightley as they share a journey on the eve of the apocalypse.
While the opening for the comedy/drama was indeed a disappointment, “Seeking” only cost a reported $10 million to make. Future prospects at the boxoffice don’t look promising as the film gleaned a dreary “C+” CinemaScore, and 53% fresh grade from the critics. Older females were the most interested, with 56% comprising that gender and 56% being over 35 years of age.
Overall the boxoffice was down around 6% from the comparable frame a year earlier, when Disney’s “Cars 2” and Sony’s “Bad Teacher” debuted. The total for all films this weekend is an estimated $165 million vs. $176.2 million in 2011.
And one for the record books, Disney’s “Avengers” from Marvel Studios is closing in on the $600 million mark domestically and should be crossing that level in the next few days. The cume to date through the weekend is an estimated $598.3 million.