Pixar’s ‘Brave’ Opens at No. 1 With Sales of $66.7 Million

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Pixar’s ‘Brave’ Opens as No. 1 Movie With Sales of $66.7 Million
This film image released by Disney/Pixar shows the character Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, in a scene from "Brave." Photograph: AP Photo/Disney/Pixar

Pixar’s “Brave,” featuring the computer-animation studio’s first female lead character, opened in first place at theaters in the U.S. and Canada, taking in $66.7 million for parent Walt Disney Co.

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” was third in its debut with $16.5 million in sales for News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

“Brave,” Pixar’s 13th film, continues an unbroken record of first-place openings for the studio dating back to “Toy Story” in 1995. The movie, about a rebellious princess Merida, tested the studio’s ability to reach boys with a story focused on the strained mother-daughter ties. Unlike past Disney princesses, Merida doesn’t need to be rescued by a heroic man.

“It’s doing some pretty good business with males even though it’s a total mother-daughter story,” said Gitesh Pandya, editor of Box Office Guru. “Part of that has to do with the Pixar brand. This is one of the only animated brands where people without kids will go to see it regardless of the story, because it is Pixar.”

Domestic ticket-sales forecasts for “Brave” ranged from $58 million at Box Office Guru to as much as $81 million, the forecast of Lazard Capital Markets. Hollywood.com predicted $60 million for the film. The picture cost about $185 million to produce, according to Box Office Mojo.

Fifth Best

In “Brave,” Princess Merida prefers riding horses and archery to the palace duties of a princess. Her refusal to hew to a traditional role at the royal court leads to unforeseen consequences that place her family in jeopardy. The 3-D film features the voices of Kelly Macdonald as Merida and Emma Thompson as her mother, Elinor.

The opening was the fifth best for a Pixar film. “Toy Story 3” had the best debut, taking in $110.3 million in June 2010, according to Hollywood.com. All but three of Pixar’s films have grossed at least $500 million in theaters worldwide, with “Toy Story 3” at the top with $1.06 billion.

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.’s “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” fell to second place, with $20.2 million, after two weeks at No. 1. The movie, featuring the voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and Jada Pinkett-Smith, has taken in $157.4 million since it opened on June 8.

The movie follows Alex the lion and his urbanized animal friends as they leave Africa to return to their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

‘Abraham Lincoln’

Fox’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” portrays the 16th U.S. president as an ax-wielding foe of the undead.

The film’s alternate take on history casts the Civil War as a contest between union forces and a confederacy co-opted by vampires who want to maintain slavery to ensure a steady supply of victims. The picture was made for about $69 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

Benjamin Walker plays the role of Lincoln.

“It’s sort of an untested genre -- you’ve got the vampire film mixed in with the history of a U.S. president,” Pandya said. “It was not expected to draw a huge audience up front. You had a lot of your adult male, horror, vampire audience come out.”

“Prometheus,” from Fox, was fourth with sales of $10 million. The film follows a group of explorers who travel to a distant planet to investigate evidence of alien life. “Prometheus” stars Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender.

‘Seeking a Friend’

Finishing fifth was “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Universal Pictures’ action-adventure take on the classic fairy tale. The film, a dark retelling of the story about a jealous, aging queen who plots against a young beauty, had sales of $8.01 million.

“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” from Universal Pictures’ Focus Features, finished 10th with sales of $3.8 million in its debut.

Steve Carell stars as a man who tries to reunite with his high-school sweetheart as an approaching asteroid threatens to end life on Earth. Keira Knightley co-stars.

“I think audiences love Steve Carell in the broad mainstream comedies,” said Pandya. “This is more of your upscale, high-concept dark comedy and there just wasn’t a whole lot of demand there.”

Weekend revenue for the top 12 films fell 7 percent to $158.9 million from the year-earlier period, Hollywood.com said. Domestic film sales this year have risen 9 percent to $5.14 billion, with attendance up 11 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for June 22 and June 23, and estimates for yesterday.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
1 BRAVE                $66.7   4,164  $16,028   --    $66.7   1
2 MADAGASCAR 3          20.2   3,920    5,153   -41   157.6   3
3 ABRAHAM LINCOLN       16.5   3,108    5,309   --     16.5   1
4 PROMETHEUS            10.0   2,862    3,494   -52   108.5   3
5 SNOW WHITE & HUNTSMAN  8.01  2,919    2,745   -40   137.1   4
6 ROCK OF AGES           8.00  3,470    2,305   -45    28.8   2
7 THAT’S MY BOY          7.9   3,030    2,607   -41    28.2   2
8 THE AVENGERS           7.0   2,230    3,157   -21   598.3   8
9 MEN IN BLACK 3         5.6   2,462    2,275   -44   163.3   5
10 SEEKING A FRIEND      3.8   1,625    2,361   --      3.8   1
11 MOONRISE KINGDOM      3.4     395    8,635    52    11.6   5
12 BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD  1.6     741    2,179   -29    38.4   8

Top 12 Film Grosses:

  This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
    $158.9        $170.0        -7%

Year-to-date Revenue:

     2012          2011
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
    $5,141.9      $4,735.3      +9%

Year-to-date Attendance:       +11%
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