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Family films continue to dominate the box office as 'Up' soars to $68 million

May 31, 2009 | 10:56 am

Up2 Family movies dominated the box office this weekend as "Up" continued Pixar's unblemished record with a $68.2-million opening and "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" came in a solid No. 2 despite the competition.

"Up" came in just behind the Disney-owned animation studio's two most successful films, "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles," which grossed $70.2 million and $70.5 million," respectively, on their first weekends. Factoring in ticket-price inflation and the boost it got from higher prices at the 41% of its theaters that were in digital 3-D, "Up's" performance is closer to that of last year's "Wall-E," which opened to $63.1 million. Like all those films, "Up" will almost certainly end up grossing well over $200 million domestically.

Despite its PG rating, "Up" performed just as well in late-night showings as at matinees, according to Disney domestic distribution President Chuck Viane, and 69% of its audience was 12 years old or older. It's the first movie this year to earn a perfect A+ from CinemaScore, a system used to track audience responses to a film.

Despite "Up's" big bow, Fox's "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" experienced an average drop -- 53% -- for a summer event film. With $25.5 million on its second weekend, the Ben Stiller vehicle has sold a healthy $105.3 million in tickets in 10 days.

DragHell "Drag Me to Hell," a low-budget horror pickup for Universal from Ghost House Pictures, wasn't able to scare up much audience interest despite the cachet of director Sam Raimi. Its $16.6 million gross is more than 20% less than the $21-million opening of another horror film, "The Strangers," on the same weekend last year.

A dismal second weekend for "Terminator Salvation" put to rest any hopes that it could recover from a soft opening. Even though there were no new action movies in the market, the Warner Bros.-distributed sequel dropped 62% to $16.1 million.

Sony Pictures started its international rollout of "Salvation" with No. 1 debuts in seven Asian countries,  holding out promise, at least initially, for financier Halcyon Co. that the film could perform better overseas. It will launch in most foreign countries this coming week.

The overseas box office continued to be dominated by "Battle of the Smithsonian" and "Angels and Demons." Fox's family sequel grossed $37.2 million on its second weekend, helped by a strong $7.4-million debut in China. Its total international gross is $106 million, almost exactly even with the figure for the U.S. and Canada.

Sony's Tom Hanks thriller, meanwhile, grossed $32.9 million on its third weekend and brought its international total to an astonishing $251.7 million. Despite the film's relatively weak domestic performance, it has by far the biggest worldwide total ticket sales of any movie this year at $356.4 million.

Here are the top 10 movies at the box office in the U.S. and Canada:

1. "Up" (Disney/Pixar): Opened to $68.2 million, right in line with Pixar's best debuts.

2. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (Fox): Declined 53% to $25.5 million, bringing the domestic total to $105.3 million. Overseas total is $106 million.

3. "Drag Me to Hell" (Universal/Ghost House): Launched to a modest $16.6 million.

4. "Terminator Salvation" (Warner Bros/Halcyon Co.): Plunged 62% on its second weekend to $16.1 million. Domestic total: $90.7 million.

5. "Star Trek" (Paramount/Spyglass): Continuing to hold up very well, it dropped just 44% on its fourth weekend to $12.8 million. Surpassed "Monsters vs. Aliens" this week to become the year's biggest film at the domestic box office. Total gross: $209.5 million. International total is a much less impressive $101.5 million.

6. "Angels and Demons" (Sony): Fell 48% on its third weekend to $11.2 million, bringing domestic cumulative ticket sales to $104.8 million. Continuing its huge run overseas, however, where it has grossed $251.7 million.

7. "Dance Flick" (Paramount): Sold $4.9 million worth of tickets on its second weekend, down 52%. Domestic total: $19.2 million.

8. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (Fox): $3.9 million on its fifth weekend, off 52%. Domestic total is $170.9 million, while internationally it is at $170.1 million.

9. "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" (Warner Bros./New Line): Fell 50% on its fifth weekend to $1.9 million. Total domestic ticket sales are a healthy $50 million.

10. "Obsessed" (Sony Screen Gems): Squeaked into the top 10 with $665,000 on its sixth weekend. Total domestic gross for the thriller is a very solid $67.5 million.

--Ben Fritz

Photo credits: "Up," Disney/Pixar;  Alison Lohman and Justin Long in "Drag Me to Hell," Melissa Mosely/Universal Pictures

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