An animated rat feasted on last weekend's U.S. box office championship. Ratatouille, Pixar's computer-generated tale of a rodent who gets to cook in a French restaurant, topped the Stateside tally with $47.2 million.
This is the lowest opening figure for Disney's Pixar Animation unit since 1998, when A Bug's Life took in $33.3 million. The next five Pixar films, among them Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, and last year's Cars, enjoyed opening weekends between $57.4 million and $70.5 million.
Chuck Vane, Disney's head of distribution, said Rataouille faced unusually stiff competition. Heading that list was 20th Century Fox's Live Free Or Die Hard - the Bruce Willis action thriller opened in second place with $33.15 million. The previous weekend's top movie, Universal's Evan Almighty, suffered a 52 percent dropoff, taking in $15.1 million.
The Steve Carell comedy has a 10-day domestic total of $60.6 million - dimming prospects of recouping its enormous $175 million production budget. The top 12 movies took in $146.7 million, up two percent from the same weekend last year.