In addition to debuting as the No. 1 movie in America, Warner Bros.’ animated feature Happy Feet did impressive business on the really big screen over the weekend. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the musical penguin pic took in $2.4 million at IMAX theaters, a record opening for a film that has been digitally-re-mastered for large-format projection. IMAX ticket sales contributed to the film’s stellar $41.5 million domestic bow.
The growing number of IMAX venues enabled Happy Feet to outperform other Hollywood hits that previously received the IMAX treatment. The toon feature debuted on 79 screens and managed a per-screen average of around $30,000 over the three-day period. Sony Pictures Animation’s Open Season recently opened on 66 IMAX screens and grossed $1.45 million during its first weekend, luring audiences with a stereoscopic 3D version of the film. Happy Feet was originally slated to debut in IMAX 3D, but the studio said there was a problem with striking the 3D prints in time for the roll-out.
The previous IMAX record holder in the Hollywood film category was Warner Bros.’ Superman Returns: An IMAX 3D experience, which debuted over the Fourth of July weekend and took in $6.83 million in its first.
Like Mumble, the main character in Happy Feet, Toronto-based IMAX Corp. must be dancing for joy over the film’s success, considering it recently reported a third-quarter plunge in profits due in part to weak performers such as Warner Bros. last animated release, The Ant Bully. IMAX venues will next play host to 20th Century Fox’s vfx-heavy comedy-adventure Night at the Museum before the 2007 premieres of Sony’s Spider-Man 3 and Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.