"The Incredibles" lived up to their name at the box office as the animated superhero adventure debuted with $70.7 million, continuing an unbroken string of hits for Pixar Animation (search).
If numbers hold when final figures are released Monday, "The Incredibles" would have the second-best opening weekend among animated flicks, coming in just ahead of Pixar's 2003 blockbuster "Finding Nemo," which debuted with $70.3 million. "Shrek 2" holds the animated debut record with $108 million.
The horror hit "The Grudge," the No. 1 movie the previous two weekends, slipped to third with $13.5 million, lifting its total to $89.6 million.
Jude Law's "Alfie," a remake of the 1960s hit about an incorrigible womanizer, debuted weakly with $6.5 million, coming in at No. 5.
Despite the big opening for "The Incredibles," overall Hollywood revenues fell, continuing a box-office slump that has lingered for most of the fall season. The top 12 movies took in $136.1 million, down 5 percent from the same weekend last year, when both "The Matrix Revolutions" and "Elf" opened.
Playing in 3,933 theaters, "The Incredibles" averaged a whopping $17,971 a cinema, compared to an average of $2,935 in 2,215 theaters for "Alfie."
Featuring the voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson and Jason Lee, "The Incredibles" spins the story of a family of superheroes pressed back into action years after they had been forced underground as ordinary suburbanites.
The film drew a mainly family audience, though teenagers and adults without children accounted for about one-third of the crowds, according to distributor Disney.
With stellar reviews, "The Incredibles" maintained the perfect critical and commercial record for Pixar, whose previous hits were "Finding Nemo," "Monsters, Inc.," "A Bug's Life" and the "Toy Story" movies.
Pixar has had a golden touch in merging computer-generated animation with clever plots, lovable characters and charming vocal talent.
"It's more important to have a great story and then to use the technology to bring it to life, and they have never lost sight of that," said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney, which has released the Pixar movies. "They deliver absolutely the best story first and meld it with the most unbelievable technology out there."
Disney's deal with Pixar expires after next November's release of "Cars." Negotiations to extend the deal fell apart earlier this year, though there has been speculation the two companies still might partner up again down the road.
Viane said he did not know if there were any prospects of resurrecting the distribution deal between Disney and Pixar. Disney President Robert Iger said in September it was unlikely the deal would be revived.
"It's a shame they can't get this together, because it's been such a successful partnership," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "This formula has worked for years, consistently, with every movie out of this Disney-Pixar alliance."
Pixar has been talking with other studios about distributing its films.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "The Incredibles," $70.7 million.
2. "Ray," $13.8 million.
3. "The Grudge," $13.5 million.
4. "Saw," $11.4 million.
5. "Alfie," $6.5 million.
6. "Shall We Dance?", $5.65 million.
7. "Shark Tale," $4.6 million.
8. "Friday Night Lights," $3 million.
9. "Ladder 49," $2.6 million.
10. "Team America: World Police," $1.9 million.