LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Disney's new animated movie, "Brave," about a rebellious, red-headed princess battled to the top of movie box office charts over the weekend, scoring $80 million (51.3 million pounds) in ticket sales around the world.
The fairy tale from Disney's Pixar studio pulled in $66.7 million at domestic theatres from Friday through Sunday, plus $13.5 million from international markets. "Brave" easily topped new historical/horror mash up "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," which finished the weekend in third place.
The 3D "Brave" is set in the ancient Scottish highlands and centres around horseback-riding teen princess Merida, who defies her mother and her kingdom's traditions. Merida, voiced by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald, must then use her courage and archery skills to undo a curse.
The movie brings the 13th consecutive No. 1 opening to Pixar, which has become Hollywood's most reliable studio during its 17-year history of making films. Starting with "Toy Story" in 1995, its 12 films before "Brave" have generated more than $7.2 billion in worldwide ticket sales, according to Hollywood.com.
Its 2010 film "Toy Story 3" was the biggest selling film that year, with $415 million in U.S. ticket sales and nearly $1.1 billion worldwide.
"Brave" is a departure for Pixar, and is its first film to feature a strong female as the lead character, following a long Disney tradition with female heroines that in recent years have included "Mulan" and "Pocahontas." "Brave" cost about $185 million to make.
Ahead of the weekend, industry tracking suggested "Brave" would secure between $55 million and $60 million in domestic ticket sales, putting the film line with most of Pixar's recent debuts, but the film topped expectations.
"Brave" knocked another animated family film, "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," to No. 2 after its two weeks in the top spot. The movie about a pack of escaped zoo animals took in $20 million at North American (U.S. and Canadian) theatres over the weekend, and the worldwide total since its debut rose to $157.6 million.
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In third place on domestic charts, thriller "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" rung up a solid $16.5 million. The movie imagines the 16th U.S. president fighting creatures of the night that are plotting to take over the country. Benjamin Walker stars as the axe-wielding Lincoln in the $70-million 3D production.
The movie rung up another $8.1 million in international markets.
Distributor 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp, had projected domestic sales would hit around $15 million for the weekend.
In fourth place, "Alien" director Ridley Scott's movie, "Prometheus," about explorers searching for the origins of mankind added $10 million in domestic sales to bring its global sales after three weeks to $108.5 million.
Another new release, "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" pulled in $3.8 million, for a disappointing 10th place. The dark comedy starring Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley tells the story of a man who goes on a road trip as an asteroid speeds toward Earth.
The film, which cost less than $10 million to make, played in 1,618 theatres, fewer than the 3,000-plus for the weekend's other big movies.
The fifth spot went to Universal's "Snow White and the Huntsman," which took in $8 million domestically to bring its four-week global total to $137 million.
"Madagascar 3" was produced by Dreamworks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. News Corp movie studio 20th Century Fox released "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and "Prometheus." Focus Features, a unit of Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures, released "Seeking a Friend."
(Reporting By Lisa Richwine; Editing by Marguerita Choy)