via:msnbc.com

Welcome back, Woody and Buzz.

After a decade-plus absence from theaters, the animated heroes of “Toy Story 3″ sold $153.8 million worth of tickets during their opening weekend at the worldwide box office, according to estimates issued Sunday by distributor Walt Disney Co.

Moviegoers in the United States and Canada accounted for $109 million, a new opening record for a film produced by Disney’s Pixar Animation unit. The old mark of $70.5 million was set by “The Incredibles” in May 2004.

  1. Weekend box office

    Following are the top 10 movies at the North American box office for the weekend beginning on June 18, according to studio estimates compiled on Sunday by Reuters.

    1. “Toy Story 3,” $109.0 million

    2. “The Karate Kid,” $ 29.0 million

    3. “The A-Team,” $ 13.8 million

    4. “Get Him to the Greek,” $ 6.1 million

    5. “Shrek Forever After,” $ 5.5 million

    6. “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” $ 5.3 million

    7. “Killers,” $ 5.1 million

    7. “Jonah Hex,” $ 5.1 million

    9. “Iron Man 2,” $ 2.7 million

    9. “Marmaduke,” $ 2.7 million

Only two other cartoons have opened to more than $100 million — “Shrek the Third” with $122 million in 2007, and “Shrek 2” with $108 million in 2004.

Pundits had forecast a $100 million-plus opening for the film, which was universally acclaimed by critics and marks the debut appearance of Mattel Inc’s Barbie and Ken.

Pixar’s perfect record of 11 No. 1 movies also remains intact, as expected. “Nobody’s had that kind of success,” said Chuck Viane, president of Disney’s theatrical distribution arm. “Everything about this movie just oozes success.”

Woody the cowboy (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear the space ranger (Tim Allen) and their pals in the toy chest starred in Pixar’s debut release, “Toy Story,” in 1995. The film inaugurated the era of computer-generated animation. They returned in November 1999 with a sequel that opened to $57.3 million in North America.

Ticket prices have risen since then, and “Toy Story 3” received an extra boost from premium pricing for 3D screenings, which accounted for about 60 percent of sales, Disney said.

Possible June record

If Disney’s estimate holds when final data are issued Monday, “Toy Story 3” will rank as the biggest June opener in North America, breaking the record of $108.97 held by last year’s “Transformers” sequel.

While “Toy Story 3” was a preordained hit, the film did have to contend with a soft marketplace. Business was weak in May, the start of the lucrative summer moviegoing season, with movies such as “Sex and the City 2” and “Shrek Forever After” underperforming their predecessors.

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