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Animated 'Wall-E' keeps streak alive

Pixar scores its ninth consecutive critical and commercial hit.

June 30, 2008|Richard Verrier | Times Staff Writer

"Wall-E," the trash collecting robot abandoned by humans, found plenty of company over the weekend.

The animated movie produced by Walt Disney Co.'s Pixar studio was the No. 1 movie with $62.5 million in ticket sales, the third-best opening for a Pixar film and the biggest ever June premiere for a Disney film.

The G-rated movie, which was produced for an estimated $180 million, is the ninth consecutive commercial and critical hit for Pixar Animation Studios, creator of "Cars," the "Toy Story" films and "The Incredibles," the 2004 movie that had the biggest opening of all Pixar entries with $70.5 million.

All nine have bested the competition in their opening weekends.

"Wall-E" and 11 other top-grossing movies brought in $179.2 million in ticket sales over the weekend, up 22% from the same time last year, according to box-office tracker Media by Numbers, underscoring Hollywood's resilience even as the economy sputters and gas prices soar.

Box-office revenue climbed for the fifth consecutive weekend and is up 6% for the summer season compared with last year, said Media by Numbers President Paul Dergarabedian.

"The box office is incredibly robust right now," Dergarabedian said Sunday, noting that sales have surpassed last year's record levels. "Historically, films do well when times are tough, when going to the movies is an inexpensive way to forget about your troubles. This is a perfect example of that."

The premiere for "Wall-E" also gives a welcome boost to Disney, which acquired Pixar in 2006 for $7.4 billion and has been struggling this year at the box office compared with its peers, in part because of the lackluster showing for "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian."

The movie hasn't matched the huge success of the 2005 release "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

"It was a sensational weekend," said Chuck Viane, Disney's distribution president. "This will help put us back in the box-office race."

The latest Disney-Pixar installment is a love story about how a walking trash compactor left behind when humans flee the over-polluted planet falls for another robot named Eve.

The computer-animated film directed by Andrew Stanton faced some potential hurdles, including the fact that the robots barely speak. But the movie benefited from strong reviews and had broad appeal with children and adults, Viane said.

"Wall-E himself is such a lovely character," Viane said of the love-struck robot.

The film managed to surpass Angelina Jolie's assassin thriller "Wanted," which debuted in second place with $51.1 million in ticket sales.

Time Warner Inc.'s "Get Smart" dropped from first to third with sales of $20 million, while "Kung Fu Panda," the animated comedy produced by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., slipped from second to fourth with $11.7 million in sales.

Marvel Entertainment Inc.'s "The Incredible Hulk" landed in fifth place with $9.2 million.

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richard.verrier@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Box-office results

Estimated ticket sales Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media by Numbers.

1. "Wall-E": $62.5 million

2. "Wanted": $51.1 million

3. "Get Smart": $20 million

4. "Kung Fu Panda": $11.7 million

5. "The Incredible Hulk": $9.2 million

6. "The Love Guru": $5.4 million

7. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull": $5 million

8. "The Happening": $3.9 million

9. "Sex and the City": $3.8 million

10. "You Don't Mess With the Zohan": $3.2 million

Source: The Associated Press

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