Disney's "WALL-E" wows North American box office

Sun Jun 29, 2008 2:03pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Animation giant Pixar scored its ninth consecutive No. 1 on Sunday with its robot love story "WALL-E," while Angelina Jolie achieved a personal best with her violent assassination thriller "Wanted."

"WALL-E," bolstered by near-unanimous critical praise, sold an estimated $62.5 million of tickets in its first three days, said Pixar's Walt Disney Co parent.

It tied with 2001's "Monsters, Inc." to become Pixar's third-best opener. Pixar has gone to No. 1 with all nine of its movies, an unprecedented run that begin in 1995 with "Toy Story."

The company record of $70.5 million was set in 2004 by "The Incredibles." Industry pundits had forecast an opening for "WALL-E" in the $50 million to $60 million range.

"Anything north of 60 (million dollars), we were going to be ecstatic," said Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group.

Meanwhile Jolie, whose career has been overshadowed in recent years by breathless tabloid coverage of her personal life, kicked off at No. 2 with "Wanted." The Universal Pictures release earned about $51.1 million, easily beating forecasts of an opening in the mid- to high-$30 million range.

Her previous record for a live-action movie was 2005's "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," which opened to $50 million. The General Electric Co-owned studio said "Wanted" ranks as the third-highest opening for an R-rated action film, behind "The Matrix Reloaded ($91.7 million) and "300" ($70.9 million).

SALES SOAR   Continued...

<p>The animated character Wall-E is shown in a scene from the film "Wall-E". The film features dystopian landscapes, social commentary and a lack of conventional dialogue that are rare under the Walt Disney Co. banner, but it sticks to Pixar's basic themes of love, loyalty and friendship. REUTERS/Disney-Pixar/Handout</p>