'Up' rises above boxoffice competition

Becomes Pixar's third biggest opener with $68.2 mil

Rapturous reviews and broad appeal lifted Disney's 3-D animated feature "Up" to the top of the domestic boxoffice in its first weekend, as the Pixar-produced adventure comedy rang up an estimated $68.2 million in domestic boxoffice.

Universal's Sam Raimi-directed horror pic "Drag Me to Hell" opened on the lower end of pre-release projections while still managing a sturdy $16.6 million in third place.

The previous weekend's boxoffice champ -- Fox's Ben Stiller starrer "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" -- dropped 53% from its inaugural Friday-Sunday tally in registering $25.5 million in second place. "Smithsonian" totes a 10-day cume of $105.3 million.

Warner Bros.' sci-fi actioner "Terminator Salvation," which also debuted over the Memorial Day frame, fell 62% to $16.1 million in fourth place with an 11-day cume of $90.7 million. And Paramount's "Star Trek" grossed another $12.8 million in fifth place to become the first 2009 domestic release to travel north of $200 million with a four-week tally of $209.5 million.

Industrywide, the $166 million session represented a 1% downtick from the same frame last year, just the second year-over-year decline among the past 11 weekend comparisons, Nielsen EDI said.

Seasonal boxoffice is pacing 3% ahead of last summer at $852.2 million.

Year to date, 2009 is 7% ahead of the same portion of last year at $3.93 billion, despite featuring one less weekend than the year-earlier period because of fluctuations in the boxoffice calendar.

Among the latest frame's limited bows, the Japanese drama "Departures" from Regent Releasing/Here Media grossed $72,701 from nine playdates in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. That gave the Oscar's best foreign film an encouraging $8,077 per venue ahead of a planned platform campaign.

"We look forward to bringing the film's universal message of spirituality, forgiveness and redemption to theaters nationwide," Regent/Here chief Paul Colichman said.

Bev Pictures debuted the culinary documentary "Pressure Cooker" in a single New York location with $8,315. "Pressure" has cooked up a $10,940 cume since unspooling Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the specialty market, IFC Films' Juliette Binoche "Summer Hours" added 11 locations for a total of 38 and grossed $207,822, or a solid $5,469 per site, with a cume of $578,266.

Sony Pictures Classics' romantic comedy "Easy Virtue," starring Jessica Biel and Colin Firth, added 16 theaters for a total of 26 and grossed $187,368, or a virtuous $7,206 per venue, with a cume of $361,285.

And Summit Entertainment's dramatic comedy "The Brothers Bloom" added 96 playdates for a total of 148 and grossed $652,000, or an acceptable $4,405 per engagement, with a $1.4 million cume.

Co-directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, the PG-rated "Up's" audiences were 31% kids age 2 to 11, with the balance of its broad support generously scattered among other demos.

"I have not seen a movie play so strongly from morning to night in a long time," Disney distribution president Chuck Viane said. "The spread of audiences is fantastic."

The 1,534 screens playing "Up" in 3-D contributed grosses more than twice as lucrative as its conventional venues. That extra dimension boosted "Up" well beyond the $63 million June 2008 bow by Disney/Pixar's "WALL-E," which ultimately grossed $224 million domestically.

Rated PG-13, "Hell" attracted audiences 52% female, with 54% under 25. "Hell's" support -- bolstered by overwhelmingly positive reviews -- was ethnically diverse, with 42% Caucasians accounting for 42% of patrons, Hispanics 35%, blacks 14% and Asians 5%.

"It was certainly the counterprogramming movie of the weekend," Universal distribution maven Nikki Rocco said. "We got a solid start, and based on the great reviews we've received and knowing how well it plays, we hope the picture will have legs."

Looking ahead, two pics open in wide release on Friday.

Universal unspools its effects-laden Will Ferrell starrer "Land of the Lost," a broadly targeted adventure comedy helmed by Brad Silberling ("Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events") and rated PG-13. Warners sends out the R-rated comedy "The Hangover" directed by Todd Phillips ("Old School").
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