Box Office Report: 'Brave' Fearless With $24.5 Mil Friday; 'Abraham Lincoln' Soft Bite

Brave Merida Archery Contest - H 2012
2011 Disney/Pixar

Brave Merida Archery Contest - H 2012

Pixar's animated tentpole could open north of $66 million, on par with "Cars 2"; fantasy epic "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" may not hit $17 million unless traffic picks up Saturday.

Once again silencing the naysayers, Pixar and Disney's Brave topped the Friday box office with an impressive $24.5 million, putting the animated tentpole on course for a weekend debut in the $66 million range.

Brave -- receiving an A CinemaScore from audiences -- is the first Pixar title to feature an female heroine, prompting some to question whether the 3D movie could come near other titles in the company's pantheon. So far, it is having no trouble.

Last year, for example, Pixar's Cars 2 earned $25.7 on the same Friday for a $66.1 million weekend.

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And so far, Brave is pacing ahead of DreamWorks Animation and Paramount's Madgascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, which opened earlier this month to a strong $60.3 million after earning $20.7 million on Friday (one difference -- not all kids were out of school yet).

Madagascar 3 remains a potent force in its third weekend and will easily come in No. 2, beating out Timur Bekmambetov's new entry Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which is now looking at a soft debut in the $16 million-plus range.

The strength of both Brave and Madagascar 3 underscore the pent-up demand for family movies.

Fom 20th Century Fox, Abraham Lincoln grossed $6.3 million on Friday after losing steam during evening shows.

Fox had hoped the film -- costing roughly $68 million to make -- would get to $20 million. Abraham Lincoln -- featuring the storied U.S. president as a vampire hunter -- is playing like a horror film and received a problematic C+ CinemaScore.

Produced by Bekmambetov and Tim Burton, Abraham Lincoln was adapted for the big screen by Seth Grahame-Smith from his book.

Abraham Lincoln is an important test for the "mash-up" genre. (Lionsgate is making the film adaptation of Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.)