Finding Nemo, the endearing and adventurous animation tale of a father trying to rescue his son, has garnered a jaw-dropping $70 million in three days in North America. Going by the reviews, and reports of young children dragging their parents to see the film again, the Walt Disney computer-animated film, created by Pixar, is bound to be around for a while. Though not as imaginative or witty as some of the other Pixar classics, including Toy Story, the brightly coloured, fast-moving film has won praise from both critics and the audience.
There was good news for other studios as well. Paramount's remake of the three decade-old hit, The Italian Job, grossed a strong $19 million. Bruce Almighty, pushed to second place, has grossed an awesome $35 million, taking its 10-day total to $135 million.
The Matrix: Reloaded has made huge amounts of money, but seems to be losing steam. After having grossed $230 million in less than 20 days, it may have to work very hard to reach the $300 million mark. Some industry observers expect Finding Nemo to do better business than the latest Matrix saga.
The sleeper hit, Bend It Like Beckham, is back in the Top 10. With a gross of $19 million, it rose from No 11 on the chart last week to No 10.
Come every summer, there is at least one can't-miss family movie.
With Finding Nemo opening to huge numbers -- it could become one of Walt Disney's most profitable films -- the family movie scene is getting rather hot. The half-a-dozen family movies -- including Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl and Sinbad: Legend Of The Seven Seas -- which will be released in the next three months will have a tough time trying to beat Finding Nemo. With this movie, Andrew Stanton emerges as a major Hollywood director.
Finding Nemo not only looks gorgeous with its lush and stunning animation, but also offers a heartfelt story of bonding. It includes a subtle message about the importance of parents letting children find their own feet in the world.
The relationship between the fish, Nemo, and Marlin, Nemo's devoted but at times misunderstood single dad who must take many risks to rescue his son from hostile elements, stirs the emotions. Finding Nemo is filled with some wonderful voices, especially those of Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks. It also has many well-directed comic scenes.
Among the movie's highlights is the anxiety-ridden, clown fish Marlin's (Brooks) journey to find his lost son and the friendship he strikes with Dory (DeGeneres), a fish with short-term amnesia. Their journey through the jellyfish forest is thrilling and has been brilliantly captured by the animators.
Also demanding rapt attention are the scenes showing Nemo being dumped into an aquarium in a dentist's office in Sydney, where he has to learn to survive with a host of funny and quirky characters including a self-inflating blowfish.
While beating Finding Nemo could be a formidable task, box-office experts believe several other family-oriented movies could still become huge hits.
Paramount is hoping to enjoy a slice of the family market with the latest Rugrats adventure, Rugrats Go Wild, which opens June 13.
When the vacationing Rugrats and their parents are stranded on a deserted island, Tommy Pickles knows there's only one man who can help them: Nigel Thornberry! But an accident has made Nigel more like a three-year-old than a man. Luckily, the young Rugrats have Eliza on their side and, with her ability to communicate with animals, they try to get back to their own back yard. Meanwhile, they also wonder if Nigel the toddler could be his real self.
Kate Boutilier directs Rugrats Go Wild. Bruce Willis, Jodi Carlisle, Christine Cavanaugh, Lacey Chabert and Melanie Chartoff lend voice to its characters.
DreamWorks, Disney's rival for the animation movie crown, will release its own family adventure on July 2.
Sinbad: Legend Of The Seven Seas follows one of the many adventures of the famous sailor, Sinbad (Brad Pitt) The adventure starts when Eris (Michelle Pfeiffer), the goddess of Chaos, steals the Book of Peace, and implicates Sinbad in the crime. Setting out to prove his innocence (and save the life of his best friend, Proteus the Shapeshifter, voiced by Joseph Fiennes), Sinbad travels to Eris' realm where he is challenged by monsters, including a giant scorpion and a giant serpent. Catherine Zeta-Jones is Marina, Proteus' girlfriend, who stows away on Sinbad's ship to make sure he fulfils his mission.
Disney will try its luck again with the family audiences in early July. By the time its Pirates Of The Caribbean hits the movie houses, Finding Nemo would have had an amply rewarding run.
Gore Verbinski, who has emerged in recent years a successful director of medium budget movies such as The Ring and Mousehunt, helms this big budget spectacle set in the Caribbean sea in the 17th century. Pirates Of The Caribbean is the story of a gentleman rogue of a pirate, Jack Sparrow (Johny Depp). He teams up with the daughter (Kiera Knightley, the lively teenager from Bend It Like Beckham) of a governor (Jonathan Pryce) to stop an evil ship of dangerous pirates (led by Geoffrey Rush) trying to reverse a curse that leaves them stuck between life and death.
The movie releases July 9.