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‘Up’ Tops Box Office with $68 Million

Pixar Studios, the last film house in Hollywood that draws an audience on its name alone, scored its 10th straight No. 1 film as "Up" soared above the weekend competition.

The animated comedy about a widower and young boy who travel in a flying house raked in $68.2 million, according to studio estimates from Nielsen EDI.

The debut slightly exceeded the expectations of analysts - who expect a lot from the studio behind "Finding Nemo", "WALL E" and "Toy Story."

And the film delivered on virtually every count, scoring an A-plus from CinemaScore and a recommendation from 98 percent of the nation's films critics, according to RottenTomatoes.com.

"Pixar rarely has big stars in its movies," says Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com. "Ed Asner (the star voice of "Up") is not known for opening big. Pixar relies on their reputation for quality. And they're 10 for 10."

Chuck Viane, distribution chief for Disney, which distributes Pixar's films, says that while families drove "Up'''s business, nearly a third of the audience was adults without children.

"I think Pixar has a way of turning stories into "gotta see' movies for adults," Viane says. "They get an unusually even blend of ages."

"Up" marked the third-largest Pixar debut, behind "The Incredibles'" $70.5 million and "Finding Nemo'''s $70.3 million.

The studio has created anticipation for its films with patience. "Up" is only the 10th film in the studio's 14-year history.

"They take their time," Viane says. "They'll tweak a story over and over until they're satisfied. The highest compliment you can pay to them is they're in no rush and get the job done right."

"Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" was second with $25.5 million for a 10-day total of $105.3 million.

Despite stellar reviews, Sam Raimi's return to schlock horror with "Drag Me to Hell" managed only third place and $16.8 million. Most analysts projected the horror film, which earned thumbs-up from 94 percent of reviewers, to collect at least $20 million.

"Terminator Salvation" ($16.1 million) was fourth, followed by "Star Trek" ($12.8 million).

Ticket sales dipped 24 percent from last weekend and 1 percent from the same weekend last year. Final numbers are out today.

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