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Weekend Box Office: Audiences do the Monster Mash, also find time for a graveyard smash

This weekend, filmgoers flocked to a monster movie suitable for children. They also saw Monsters University. Proving that stories of development woes and behind-the-scenes strife matter only to the entertainment journalists writing about them—a lesson everyone should have learned from Titanic 16 years ago—the troubled production World War Z buried its bad industry buzz with a lively $66 million intact. That's the biggest opening of Brad Pitt's career, edging outs Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($50 million in 2005), which similarly costarred a rail-thin creature with a taste for third-world children. The bloodless Max Brooks adaptation did well enough, in fact, that executives at Paramount are surely fast-tracking its inevitable prequel, The Zombie Survival Guide, starring Tom Cruise as the host of a $200 million infomercial about the safest, most sensible haircut to sport during the zombie apocalypse. (Hint: It's closer to Cruise in A Few Good Men than Cruise in Magnolia.) Lasse Hallström will direct.

Speaking of prequels, the real Godzilla-sized hit of the weekend was Mike & Sully: The College Years, which took in $82 million to become Pixar's 14th straight number-one opening and its second biggest debut, after the $110 million bow of Toy Story 3. Cranky critics may complain about the animation studio's slight dip in quality output, but audiences still treat a new Pixar joint like the closest thing to a sure thing Hollywood has to offer. Only the upcoming Despicable Me 2, featuring those nattering little henchmen/fast-food mascots, could slow the flow into Disney's cash canisters.

The monster mash continued further down the charts, as beasts of all shapes and sizes turned the multiplex into a veritable scare floor. Roaring creatures make appearances in This Is The End (fourth place, with $13 million) and After Earth (14th place, with $850,000), while fame monsters stalk their way through The Bling Ring, which stole $2 million in its second weekend. For real horror, though, look to the 65 percent plummet suffered by last week's BO champion, Man Of Steel. The Superman reboot, directed by human monster Zach Snyder, took $41 million in its second weekend—a less than super sign for the staying power of this divisive summer movie. Should Mike and Sully need to boost their scream quota, they could try setting up a door to the Monday-morning meeting rooms at Warner Bros.

For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.


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