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Box Office Report: 'Monsters U' Zooms to $82 Million Debut; 'World War Z' Nabs $66 Million

Box Office Report: 'Monsters U' Zooms to $82 Million Debut; 'World War Z' Nabs $66 MillionBox Office Report: 'Monsters U' Zooms to $82 Million Debut; 'World War Z' Nabs $66 Million

Affable monsters and hordes of zombies converged at the North American box office to create a perfect storm for moviegoing over the weekend.

Disney and Pixar's long-awaited sequel Monsters University opened to a sizzling $82 million. Overseas, Monsters U took in an early $54.5 million for a worldwide debut of $136.5 million.

Brad Pitt zombie pic World War Z, from Paramount, also overperformed in opening to $66 million, one of the best bows for an original summer tentpole. It also marks Pitt's largest opening domestically, easily outpacing the $50.3 million launch of Mr. & Mrs. Smith in summer 2005.

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World War Z's performance is a notable victory for Paramount, considering many in Hollywood left the film for dead after its release was pushed back from December 2012 in order to allow for numerous reshoots. Directed by Marc Forster and co-financed by Skydance Productions, World War Z was a passion project for Pitt, who produced the tentpole.

Domestic box office revenue for the weekend reached an estimated $236 million, the second best of the year after Memorial Day weekend and among the top 10 weekends of all time.

Heading into the frame, box office observers believed World War Z would end up in a closer battle with Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan's Man of Steel, with many giving Superman an edge over zombies.

As it turned out, Man of Steel fell more than expected for an all-audience tentpole, even as it jumped the $200 million mark domestically. The movie grossed $41.2 million in its second weekend, a 65 percent decline, to come in No. 3 and pushing its North American total to $210 million.

The might of Monsters U, directed by Don Scanlon, continues Pixar's winning streak at the box office and marks the 14th Pixar title to open to No. 1. The sequel returns Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi and Frank Oz in the roles of Mike Wazowski, James P. Sullivan, Randall Boggs, and Jeff Fungus, respectively.

The animated tentpole will have plenty of competition in the coming weeks as a record number of 3D summer toons open, but a glowing A CinemaScore should help fuel word of mouth. Next up is Universal's Despicable Me 2 on July 3.

STORY: 'Monsters,' 'Despicable Me 2,' 'Turbo': Summer's Brutal Animation War 

Paramount is hoping that World War Z -- following the lead of other successful original tentpoles -- enjoys a better-than-usual multiple. Avatar debuted to $77 million in December 2009 on its way to cuming $760.5 million domestically, or 10 times its opening number. And in summer 2010, Christopher Nolan's Inception grossed $292.6 million, nearly five times its $62 million debut.

Rated PG-13, World War Z earned a B+ CinemaScore.

World War Z, based on Max Brook's 2006 novel of the same name, was a sizeable gamble for the studio, costing $190 million to produce after tax incentives. The budget was originally $150 million, but the additional work -- shepherded by Paramount Film Group president Adam Goodman and his team -- bumped up the number.

In the film, Pitt plays a retired U.N. employee who must return to work and stop a worldwide pandemic that is turning humans into zombies. The Killing's Mireille Enos stars as his wife.

World War Z opened in 25 foreign markets this weekend, including the U.K., South Korea and Australia.

At the specialty box office, Sofia Copolla's The Bling Ring came in No. 11 as it made a major push in its second weekend, upping its theater count from five theaters to 650. The indie film, from A24 films, grossed $1.8 million from 650 theaters for a cume of $2.1 million.