Pixar's Brave Right On Target at Summer Box Office
By John Hamann
June 24, 2012
After a depressing box office frame last weekend where two Adams (Sandler and Rock of Ages director Shankman) were embarrassed, Pixar and Disney are also looking to redeem themselves after the unfortunate Cars 2 was released last year. Cars 2 was nothing more than an attempt to sell billions worth of useless knickknacks to kids (and was a bad film to boot), and this weekend's big opener, Brave, is looking to right the Pixar ship. Brave takes the studio back to releasing original, attention-grabbing animation, with honest, upright stories that influence all ages (the anti-Cars). Also opening this weekend are the bizarre Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and Steve Carrell's super small summer film, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.
Our number one film of the weekend is of course Brave, Pixar's first return to original programming since Up in 2009. Two sequels later – one very good (2010's Toy Story 3) and one made by the devil (2011's Cars 2) – Pixar is back to creating original ideas combined with remarkable animation. With Brave, some complained that the female heroine might put boys off (for shame!), but it's a ridiculous argument, as kids flocked to see 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen in Up to the tune of $731 million worldwide. Up also earned an Oscar for best Animated Feature (and Original Score), and contains one of the sweetest and most remarkable scenes in the history of animation, as Carl remembers his life with his wife Ellie. Let me just thank Pixar one more time for not making Cars 3, and going back to what made them great, original, soulful programming.
Audiences were also thrilled Pixar returned to its roots. Pixar's sixth single-word title, Brave, earned an amazing $66.7 million this weekend, thanks to a gorgeous marketing campaign, 3D screens, and a hurting box office following last weekend's disasters. Brave opened at an ultra-wide 4,164 venues, and garnered a strong venue average of $16,028. Brave, with red-headed heroine Princess Merida, got started on Friday with a superlative gross of $24.5 million, slightly less than the Cars sequel ($25.7 million), but ahead of original ideas like Up ($21.5 million) and WALL-E ($23.2 million), the two films we will compare Brave to today.
Despite having a Friday that was lower than WALL-E, Up won the weekend battle, earning $68.1 million versus WALL-E's $63.1 million. Why did it come back to win? The release date affected the weekend multiplier (weekend gross divided by Friday gross). Up was released in May, when school is still fully in session, which meant that kids would be more likely to see a film on Saturday and Sunday, thus increasing the multiplier (Up had a multiplier of 3.17). WALL-E (and now Brave) are late June releases. Most schools are already out, giving kids more of an opportunity to see films on a Friday, thus lowering the multiplier. WALL-E had a summer weekend multiplier of 2.72 when it was released, which is exactly the same multiplier that Brave ended up with.