'Brave' proves Pixar's knack for original movies still a money maker

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Disney/Pixar's "Brave" - 2012

Pixar hit another grand slam with its latest animated film, "Brave." The movie about a princess who will do just about anything to avoid her predetermined fate opened in first place at the weekend box office, the 13th Pixar film in a row to do so.

"Brave" also had the fifth largest opening weekend of any Pixar movie to date, proof that the fears were unfounded of a Pixar movie about a princess geared toward girls would fail to attract the company's normal large audiences. However, Pixar is the master of taking strange ideas and turning them into huge success stories.

"Ratatouille"

"Ratatouille" was a hard movie for many people to wrap their minds around. The film takes place in Paris and focuses on Remi, a rat who wants to be a chef. The name of the movie, based on the traditional French food dish, was a lot for younger kids to grasp and "Ratatouille" itself was unlike anything Pixar had made up to that point. Surely a French flick about a rat who wants to cook would be the first Pixar film to fail at the box office.

To help kids with the pronunciation of the title, Pixar spelled the title phonetically on posters and in commercials. Furthermore, "Ratatouille" continued Pixar's reign at the box office, opening with a $47 million weekend and beating out the Bruce Willis-starring sequel "Live Free or Die Hard." The animated flick finished with a $206 million domestic take -- only ninth best for Pixar, but a nice $417 million worldwide.

"Wall-E"

Released only a year after "Ratatouille" became a surprise hit, "WALL-E" faced a tough battle of its own. The main character, a robot, was mute and never spoke. Therefore, kids sat through a movie that was almost completely a silent film for the first half, except for the music and various sound effects. Pundits wondered if kids could be won over by a movie with no dialogue and only action to keep their attention.

There was nothing to fear. WALL-E himself was a cute robot that won over children of all ages. The lack of dialogue was of no detriment whatsoever, either. "WALL-E" opened with a $63 million weekend, beating out action movie and comic adaptation "Wanted" for first place. The domestic take brought in $223 million while the movie made slightly more in international markets, with a $521 million gross worldwide.

"Up"

"Up" was another questionable project; the main characters were an old man and a cub scout. The opening of the movie was very different, audiences watching the old man grow up, fall in love, and watch his wife die in one of the most beautiful scenes in animated films. Would that adult subject matter turn kids off?

As usual, there was nothing to fear. "Up" became the third highest-grossing Pixar film domestically, opening to an impressive $68 million debut weekend and knocking "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" out of the top spot. "Up" ended up bringing in $293 million domestically and $731 million worldwide, proving that Pixar's ability to create something different was still a surefire money maker.

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