Box office report: 'Monsters University' scares up $82 million

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Pixar earned its 14th No. 1 at the box office this weekend — out of 14 releases. Yep, the animation studio, now owned by Disney, has never not opened a film in first place. Its latest release, Monsters University, was no exception. It finished at the top of its class.

Monsters graduated with $82 million from 4,004 theaters in its debut weekend, making it the second biggest Pixar opener of all time behind Toy Story 3, which bowed with $110.3 million in June 2010. It also beat the opening of its predecessor, Monsters Inc., which opened with $62.6 million in 2001. That being said, when inflation is taken into account, Monsters Inc.‘s debut adjusts to about $82 million today (and that was without 3D tickets).

According to Disney, audiences were 56 percent female and 60 percent below the age of 25. Families made up 73 percent of business, and teens accounted for a solid 15 percent. The film played well with all ages, and crowds issued Monsters University an “A” CinemaScore, which should help it endure at the box office for weeks to come.

Monsters University‘s biggest challenge arrives July 3. That’s when Universal’s animated Despicable Me 2 hits theaters and will provide direct competition for families. The original Despicable Me became a word of mouth sensation and earned $251 million in 2010, and because it’s still fresh in audiences’ minds, it provides a formidable threat. But Disney is confident that positive audience reactions will carry Monsters University to success.

Internationally, Monsters University took in $54.5 million this weekend from 35 territories, representing about 48 percent of the overseas market. All together, Monsters University has earned $136.5 million worldwide in its first three days. It should be noted that Disney declined to provide a budget for the film. Last year, the studio reported that Brave cost $185 million. Because filmmakers had to bring voice actors John Goodman and Billy Crystal back into the fold to work on Monsters University, it’s likely that it cost substantially more than that.

In second place, the Brad Pitt vehicle World War Z went totally viral with an excellent $66 million debut from 3,607 theaters. The zombie thriller, which reportedly cost over $200 million to produce (Paramount is admitting to $190 million), had a famously troubled production, but thanks to Paramount’s relentless marketing campaign (including numerous ads in this year’s hugely popular NBA finals), World War Z became the biggest opening of Brad Pitt’s career, ahead of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which opened with $50.3 million in 2005.

World War Z has a long way to go before it can be deemed a success, but its great box office debut and surprisingly strong reviews have wiped away much of the stigma that surrounded the project. Of course, the film’s on-set drama didn’t matter much to the average moviegoer. According to Fandango, 87 percent of people who purchased a ticket to World War Z said that the film’s much-reported production struggles had zero effect on their decision to go. Who was the average moviegoer? Paramount reports that crowds were 51 percent female (yep, both a zombie movie and a monster movie played primarily to females this weekend) and 67 percent at least 25 years old.

Overseas, World War Z earned $45.8 million from 25 territories representing about 30 percent of the international market, which gives the zombie film a $112 million total after just one weekend. Audiences issued World War Z a “B+” CinemaScore grade.

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Man of Steel fell by a hefty 65 percent in its second weekend to $41.2 million. The $225 million Superman reboot has now earned $210 million after 10 days, easily surpassing Superman Returns‘ gross, which topped out at $200 million in 2006. Unless it continues to plummet at this rate (which seems unlikely — World War Z and Monsters University provided unexpectedly massive competition), Man of Steel is still on pace to reach the $300 million mark.

This Is the End and Now You See Me rounded out the top five with $13 million and $7.9 million, respectively. This Is the End fell by just 37 percent and has now earned $57.8 million against a $32 million budget. Now You See Me, meanwhile, dropped by just 29 percent and has earned $94.5 million after four weekends. The $75 million magician caper is now a lock to finish above $100 million.

1. Monsters University – $82 million
2. World War Z – $66 million
3. Man of Steel – $41.2 million
4. This Is the End – $13 million
5. Now You See Me – $7.9 million

In limited release, Sofia Coppola’s buzzy drama The Bling Ring, which stars Emma Watson, expanded too quickly for its own good. The film, which opened in five theaters last weekend, expanded into 650 locations and took in $2 million. Its resulting $3,077 per theater average limits The Bling Ring‘s chances for another major expansion.

Next week, The Heat and White House Down hit theaters. How will they do? Check back to EW for full box office coverage, and follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute box office updates to find out.

Read more:
‘Monsters University’: EW Review
‘World War Z’: EW Review
‘Man of Steel’: EW Review


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