Cars is first past the flag at the US box office

Studio estimates see the latest Pixar movie triumph

It might have been given a rough ride by some critics, but Pixar’s latest proved it had enough kick in its engine to speed into first place at the Stateside box office.

It might not have hit the highs of the still-reigning Pixar kings Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, but the $62.8 million was enough to send it out ahead of everything else this week, even The Omen, which opened on Tuesday around the world and fell to fourth place by the end of the weekend. But there’s more on that in a moment.

The Break-Up held up pretty well, with a 48% drop in its second week to $20.5 million, while in third place X-Men: The Last Stand made $15.5 million and has officially become the first movie of the year to cross $200 million on domestic US receipts alone.

Despite a devilish start on that fateful Tuesday 6.6.06, The Omen couldn’t quite keep the power going over the weekend. It finished up with $35.7 million, though the final figures may yet see it creep above X-Men in the charts. In fifth place Over The Hedge’s critters raided $10.3 million from American pockets, with The Da Vinci Code down to $10 million, with $189 million earned in the US so far.

Lower down the charts, in seventh was the week’s other opener, A Prairie Home Companion. Robert Altman’s latest had the healthiest per-screen average, and considering it was on just 760 screens (compared to Cars’ 3,985), a take of $4.7 million is a great achievement and a canny bit of counter-programming by Picturehouse, who provided something for audiences who wouldn’t be watching Cars.

At Eighth, Mission: Impossible III lingered with $3 million, just ahead of the $2 million earned by RV as it prepares to leave the charts. But that was still better than Poseidon’s $1.8 million at 10th place, meaning that the sinking schlockbuster has earned just $55 million in the US. Wolfgang Petersen’s unbroken run of his films earning more than the last is drowning…

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