Pixar's latest film, Brave, debuted at number one this weekend, earning $66.7 million. Though seemingly impressive, that total is just half-a-million dollars more than the opening haul for Pixar's critical bomb, Cars 2, last summer. Not only did Brave receive stronger reviews than Cars 2, it was pegged as culturally important, the first Pixar film to feature a female protagonist (the fiery-haired and strong-willed Princess Merida). Do those factors actually make the film's box office gross a disappointment?

Comparatively, it's not that impressive: Brave opened strong, and surpassed the $55 million tracking predictions, says Zac Gille at Alt Film Guide. But compared to Pixar's biggest recent hits, Brave, whose budget topped $185 million, pales in comparison. Its box office returns are far less than the opening weekends of Toy Story 3 ($110.3 million), Up (roughly $72 million in today's dollars), and Finding Nemo (about $92 million today). With merely passable reviews far below the Pixar standard, Brave can't be ruled an unqualified hit for the studio.
"Box-office hit: Pixar's movie Brave"

Nope. This film's a hit: The way I see it, Brave is clearly a success, says Todd Cunningham at The Wrap. It's Pixar's 13th consecutive number one film. It outperformed expectations. Concerns that Cars 2 had tarnished Pixar's reputation came to nothing, and worries that "the female heroine would keep young males away vanished" — the audience was a respectable 43 percent male and 55 percent under age 25. With positive word of mouth in its favor, Brave is likely to finish its run with numbers closer to Toy Story 3's billion-dollar global haul in 2010 than Cars 2 comparatively paltry $560 million take last year.
"Brave and Princess Merida beat up the boys at box office: $66.7 million"

Abraham Lincoln is the weekend's real disappointment: Brave may not be Pixar's biggest hit, but the true underperformer of the weekend was the genre mash-up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which opened in third place with a disappointing $16.5 million, says Grady Smith at Entertainment Weekly. The film was an adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith's popular novel, which blended, with a straight face, historical fiction with vampire horror themes. Audiences gave the movie a harsh "C+" CinemaScore grade, suggesting that their "interest peaked with the gimmicky title and concept... [and] they weren't actually invested in the film."
"Box office report: Brave hits the bulls-eye with $66.7 million"