Weekend Wrap-Up

Pixar's Brave Right On Target at Summer Box Office

By John Hamann

June 24, 2012

They're super adorable...until they eat your face off.

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One difference between Brave and both WALL-E and Up is critics reviews. Pixar's former original ideas were completely embraced by critics, with only a handful giving a negative review. Brave, on the other hand, wasn't loved as much. It is 74% fresh at RottenTomatoes, but I could have guessed that the follow up to Cars 2 wasn't going to get the group hug.

Pixar is known for opening movies between $60 and $70 million. The run really started in 1999 with Toy Story 2. That one had a first weekend in limited release, but earned $22.8 million over the following Wednesday and Thursday before taking in $57.4 million over the weekend proper. The studio then had a run of films – Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Cars - that opened between $60.1 million (Cars) and $70.5 million (The Incredibles). The studio took a time out on Ratatouille (despite that one being one of their best), as it earned only $47 million over its opening weekend (but then had four consecutive sub-40% drops), but then went back to its pattern with WALL-E, Up, and Cars 2. Toy Story 3 is outside of the pattern, as that one truly dominated the box office with a $110 million opening. The point is that Pixar can change the characters, the tone and the release date and still get the same quality result, as that's what their films are.


Proving that families need new product, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, managed to stay in the top two this weekend. After a strong opening weekend at $60 million and an okay second weekend drop of 43.5%, Madagascar 3 had to deal with Brave this weekend, and pulled in a more muted $20.2 million and dropped 41%. Made for $145 million, Madagascar 3 can now say that it has earned back that hefty production budget, and does appear to be still on target to earn $200 domestically, a figure the first two Madagascar films couldn't reach. Also, like the first two films, this one is doing good business overseas, where it has already earned over $200 million. The domestic figure for the DreamWorks Animation product is now $157.6 million.

Opening in third this weekend is the interesting experiment that is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. After getting excited about $700,000 in midnight sales on Thursday night, 20th Century Fox was brought back to reality on Friday, when that day's gross came in at $6.3 million. From there, Fox was left with a $16.5 million weekend, below their $20 million target amount. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter had little going for it other than the title. It was directed by Timur Bekmambetov, whose last film, Wanted with Angeline Jolie, opened four years ago. The cast had very few familiar faces – Benjamin Walker plays Abe, and other than a few small parts here and there, this guy is basically an unknown. The only familiar face is Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who played opposite Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim vs The World. This one cost $70 million to make, has no hope of making that back domestically, and I have to wonder how a film about Abe Lincoln killing vampires is going to work overseas. For producer Tim Burton, this is his second miss of the summer, as Dark Shadows earned only $75 million domestic against a $150 million budget.

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