Disney/Pixar’s Fish Tale Scales New Heights

Finding Nemo, Disney/Pixar’s whopper of a CG toon about a clownfish’s search for his lost son, made a big splash at the U.S. box office this past weekend. Director Andrew Stanton’s visually stunning opus brought in an estimated $70.6 million domestically, making this the highest opening weekend for any animated movie.

Before Nemo, this record was held by Disney/Pixar’s own Monsters, Inc. which brought in $62.5 million during its opening weekend, and went on to gross over $255.9 million. Nemo also holds the distinction of being the first of the five Pixar features to open during the summer months rather than in November, and being the highest three-day opening weekend grosser for any Disney film, animated or live action.

According to Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney’s Buena Vista Pictures, the demographics of the film, which features the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Willem Dafoe and Geoffrey Rush, skewed equally among most age groups, and the late-night shows were sold out as frequently as the noon screenings. Nemo‘s fins will be tested again on June 13 when the next wave of summer films, including Paramount/Klasky Csupo toon The Rugrats Go Wild and Universal’s The Hulk open in theaters nationwide.

The No. 2 spot was held by the Jim Carrey-starrer Bruce Almighty which made another $35.6 million in theaters ($135.7 million total gross), while the new caper remake The Italian Job brought in $19.3. Meanwhile, the two other summer visual effects heavyweights continued their healthy performances: The Matrix Reloaded made $15 million (total: $232 million) and X2:X-Men Reunited added another $5 million in ticket sales (total gross: $199.3).