To infinity and beyond may not be a stretch for Pixarâ€™s â€œToy Story 3,â€which sold $109 million in ticket sales in North America over the weekend and is on track to deliver a total domestic gross of over $400 million, analysts said.
â€œToy Story 3â€ entered the marketplace as a strong No. 1 â€” the 11th Pixar title in a row to achieve that feat. The result was Pixarâ€™s best opening ever, even when adjusting for inflation.
Sales were big enough almost to wipe out an early-summer slump at the multiplex. Total domestic box office revenue since early May is now only down by less than 1 percent from the same period last year, according to Hollywood.com, which complies ticketing statistics. In recent weeks revenue had dipped by over 6 percent, leading to hand wringing in Hollywood.
If history is any guide, â€œToy Story 3â€ will continue to dominate in the weeks ahead. On average just 23 percent of the total domestic gross for a Pixar film comes from opening weekend, according to Hollywood.com.
â€œThe audience was much broader than normal,â€ said Chuck Viane, the president for distribution at Walt Disney Studios, whose parent company owns Pixar. â€œItâ€™s been a long time since Iâ€™ve seen a movie with such unbelievably positive word of mouth.â€ In limited release overseas â€œToy Story 3â€ sold about $45 million.
Blissful reviews for the latest installment of the beloved â€œToy Storyâ€ franchise may have helped persuade audiences to pay extra to see the film in 3-D. An outsize portion of sales, for example, came from the 180 Imax theaters playing the movie. Though only 2 percent of the cinemas showing the film were Imax, they still delivered 8 percent of the weekend gross.
Young adults, typically not a big audience for animated films, also played an important role. Disney said â€œToy Story 3â€ drew 40 percent of its nonfamily audience from people ages 17 to 24: the group that grew up with Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the other characters from the franchise.
â€œToy Story 3,â€ directed by Lee Unkrich, becomes the third movie to open to more than $100 million at the domestic box office so far this year. All three have been movies made under the Disney umbrella. The other two are â€œAlice in Wonderland,â€ which sold over $116 million in its opening weekend, and â€œIron Man 2,â€ which opened to over $128 million.
The challenge for Disney, which bought Pixar in 2006, is to avoid flops in between blockbusters that diminish the financial impact of its megahits. After â€œIron Man 2â€ cameâ€œPrince of Persia: The Sands of Time,â€ which should go down as one of the biggest failures of the year. The seesawing could continue: next up on Disneyâ€™s release slate is â€œThe Sorcererâ€™s Apprentice,â€ a live-action fantasy starring Nicolas Cage that strikes many veteran movie marketers as a tough sell.
For the weekend â€œThe Karate Kidâ€ from Sony Pictures Entertainment continued to prove itself an audience favorite, selling about $29 million for second place and a new total of $106.2 million, according to Hollywood.com
â€œThe A-Teamâ€ from 20th Century Fox was third with about $13.8 million and a new total of $49.8 million, while the comedy â€œGet Him to the Greekâ€ from Universal Pictures was fourth with $6.1 million ($47.9 million total).
â€œShrek Forever Afterâ€ (a DreamWorks Animation title distributed by Paramount Pictures) was fifth with $5.5 million, bringing its total to $223 million.