‘Monsters’ Scares Away ‘World War Z’ For Box-Office #1

Brad Pitt's zombie flick couldn't top the $82 million opening of Pixar's 'Monsters University.'

In the box-office battle between Pixar and Pitt, “Monsters University” emerged victorious over “World War Z.” However, Brad Pitt’s zombie-filled epic was able to defeat the previous weekend’s #1 flick, “Man of Steel.”

The prequel to “Monsters Inc.” opened with $82 million, slightly higher than already generous pre-release expectations. Like all 13 previous Pixar films, “Monsters University” debuted at #1. It’s enjoyed mostly positive reviews, which is also the norm for the Disney-owned animation studio (save for 2011′s critically reviled blip on the radar screen, “Cars 2″). That $82 million launch was the biggest for an animated movie since “Toy Story 3″ in 2010, which is the only Pixar film to have opened bigger than “Monsters University.” It’s also the third biggest opening of 2013 behind “Iron Man 3,” “Man of Steel” and “Fast & Furious 6.”

Whereas “Monsters University” more or less met expectations (in a good way), “World War Z” surpassed even the highest industry estimates. After Pitt picked up the rights to the hit novel, the movie suffered through multiple reshoots, script rewrites and a budget that reportedly ballooned past $200 million. The fact that the movie opened with $66 million was particularly impressive given its zombie-driven premise. “World War Z” was marketed more around Pitt’s star power (the A-list actor surprised many by showing up to early screenings) and the worldwide epidemic theme, which worked. $66 million put it right behind “zombie rom-com” “Warm Bodies” (which opened with $66.3 million in February) and the $75 million opening weekend of “Zombieland” in 2009 for biggest opening for a zombie picture ever, before adjustments for ticket price inflation.

That left the #3 spot for “Man of Steel.” The Superman reboot dropped 65 percent in its second weekend. The weekend’s $41.2 million put the movie’s ten-day total over $210 million, which is more than the entire $200 million run of Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” in 2006.

“This is the End” dropped a mere 37 percent to land at #4 with $57.8 million. The Seth Rogen-led ensemble comedy has now made $57.7 million domestically against a reported budget of only $32 million. “Now You See Me” dropped by only 29 percent with $7.9 million. The movie about four criminal magicians has made $94.5 million.

Around the world, “Monsters University” picked up another $54.5 million from 35 foreign markets. “Man of Steel” took in $89 million as it expanded into new markets. “World War Z” took in $45.8 million, with several new markets to come this weekend. “Despicable Me 2″ opened super early in Australia, where it made $6.4 million. It arrives in North America July 3.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Monsters University.”