June 24, 2012 / 4:03 PM / 5 years ago

Disney's "Brave" rides to box office win

Cast member Kelly Macdonald arrives at the premiere of Disney Pixar's "Brave" in Hollywood, California June 18, 2012.Jason Redmond

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Disney's new animated movie, "Brave," about a rebellious, red-headed princess battled to the top of movie box office charts over the weekend, scoring $80 million in ticket sales around the world.

The fairy tale from Disney's Pixar studio pulled in $66.7 million at domestic theaters from Friday through Sunday, plus $13.5 million from international markets. "Brave" easily topped new historical/horror mashup "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," which finished the weekend in third place.

The 3D "Brave" is set in the ancient Scottish highlands and centers around horseback-riding teen princess Merida, who defies her mother and her kingdom's traditions. Merida, voiced by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald, must then use her courage and archery skills to undo a curse.

The movie brings the 13th consecutive No. 1 opening to Pixar, which has become Hollywood's most reliable studio during its 17-year history of making films. Starting with "Toy Story" in 1995, its 12 films before "Brave" have generated more than $7.2 billion in worldwide ticket sales, according to Hollywood.com.

Its 2010 film "Toy Story 3" was the biggest selling film that year, with $415 million in U.S. ticket sales and nearly $1.1 billion worldwide.

"Brave" is a departure for Pixar, and is its first film to feature a strong female as the lead character, following a long Disney tradition with female heroines that in recent years have included "Mulan" and "Pocahontas." "Brave" cost about $185 million to make.

Ahead of the weekend, industry tracking suggested "Brave" would secure between $55 million and $60 million in domestic ticket sales, putting the film line with most of Pixar's recent debuts, but the film topped expectations.

"Brave" knocked another animated family film, "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," to No. 2 after its two weeks in the top spot. The movie about a pack of escaped zoo animals took in $20 million at North American (U.S. and Canadian) theaters over the weekend, and the worldwide total since its debut rose to $157.6 million.

HONEST ABE BATTLES VAMPIRES

In third place on domestic charts, thriller "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" rung up a solid $16.5 million. The movie imagines the 16th U.S. president fighting creatures of the night that are plotting to take over the country. Benjamin Walker stars as the axe-wielding Lincoln in the $70-million 3D production.

The movie rung up another $8.1 million in international markets.

Distributor 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp, had projected domestic sales would hit around $15 million for the weekend.

In fourth place, "Alien" director Ridley Scott's movie, "Prometheus," about explorers searching for the origins of mankind added $10 million in domestic sales to bring its global sales after three weeks to $108.5 million.

Another new release, "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" pulled in $3.8 million, for a disappointing 10th place. The dark comedy starring Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley tells the story of a man who goes on a road trip as an asteroid speeds toward Earth.

The film, which cost less than $10 million to make, played in 1,618 theaters, fewer than the 3,000-plus for the weekend's other big movies.

The fifth spot went to Universal's "Snow White and the Huntsman," which took in $8 million domestically to bring its four-week global total to $137 million.

"Madagascar 3" was produced by Dreamworks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. News Corp movie studio 20th Century Fox released "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and "Prometheus." Focus Features, a unit of Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures, released "Seeking a Friend."

Reporting By Lisa Richwine; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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