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'Monsters, Inc.' mashes its competition with record opening

LOS ANGELES -- "Monsters Inc." scared away the weekend competition. The film about a monster factory that collects kids' screams recorded the best debut ever for an animated film and the sixth-best opening of all time, bringing in $62.

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LOS ANGELES -- "Monsters Inc." scared away the weekend competition.
The film about a monster factory that collects kids' screams recorded the best debut ever for an animated film and the sixth-best opening of all time, bringing in $62.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
"Monsters Inc.," the latest film from the Disney/Pixar partnership that produced the "Toy Story" movies and "A Bug's Life," far outdistanced those earlier hits.
The previous top opening for an animated film was the $57.4 million recorded by 1999's "Toy Story 2," which also held the previous record for best November opening.
"There's something about the Pixar/Disney partnership whereby the creative forces behind these films really know what kids want to see," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks the box office. "Everything that they do with these films seems to exactly capture what kids are looking for."
Opening in second place over the Friday to Sunday weekend was "The One," Jet Li's latest action film. The film brought in $19.1 million, the strongest opening to date for a film starring Li. Unlike his earlier "Romeo Must Die" and "Kiss of the Dragon," the film was rated PG-13, not R.
"Domestic Disturbance", a thriller starring John Travolta, debuted in third place, bringing in $14 million.
The openings rang in the holiday movie season in decisive fashion. Receipts for the top 12 movies were up nearly 90 percent over last weekend, and 44 percent over the same weekend last year.
"In light of the tragedy of Sept. 11, the box office has just been incredible. People want an escape," Dergarabedian said. "We're on record pace for the year."
"Monsters" is the sort of movie Disney typically would release right around Thanksgiving, but the studio moved it to early November hoping to cash in before the "Harry Potter" juggernaut hits the weekend before Thanksgiving.
The movie features the voices of John Goodman as the gorilla-like Sully and Billy Crystal as his pal Mike Wazowski, an eyeball with arms and legs. Havoc ensues when Goodman's character accidentally lets a little girl wander through her closet into the monster world, where human children are considered toxic.
Disney officials were ecstatic Sunday at the film's success.
"It's just fabulous," said Disney distribution chief Chuck Viane. "We knew it was good, but breaking records -- you very seldom expect that."

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