"Toy Story 3" sets worldwide box office abuzz

Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:08pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Welcome back, Woody and Buzz.

After a decade-plus absence from theaters, the animated heroes of "Toy Story 3" sold $153.8 million worth of tickets during their opening weekend at the worldwide box office, according to estimates issued on Sunday by distributor Walt Disney Co.

Moviegoers in the United States and Canada accounted for $109 million, a new opening record for a film produced by Disney's Pixar Animation unit. The old mark of $70.5 million was set by "The Incredibles" in May 2004.

Only two other cartoons have opened to more than $100 million -- "Shrek the Third" with $122 million in 2007, and "Shrek 2" with $108 million in 2004.

Pundits had forecast a $100 million-plus opening for the film, which was universally acclaimed by critics and marks the debut appearance of Mattel Inc's Barbie and Ken.

Pixar's perfect record of 11 No. 1 movies also remains intact, as expected. "Nobody's had that kind of success," said Chuck Viane, president of Disney's theatrical distribution arm. "Everything about this movie just oozes success."

Woody the cowboy (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear the space ranger (Tim Allen) and their pals in the toy chest starred in Pixar's debut release, "Toy Story," in 1995. The film inaugurated the era of computer-generated animation. They returned in November 1999 with a sequel that opened to $57.3 million in North America.

Ticket prices have risen since then, and "Toy Story 3" received an extra boost from premium pricing for 3D screenings, which accounted for about 60 percent of sales, Disney said.


<p>Actor Tom Hanks (R) waves at fans with character Woody (C), whose voice he plays in the film, and character Bullseye (L) as he arrives at the world premiere of Disney Pixar's "Toy Story 3" at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California June 13, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>