Walt Disney’s 3-D feature film “Up” opened as the top movie over the weekend, taking in $68.2 million at theaters in the U.S. and Canada, the third-best debut ever for a Pixar film. News Corp.’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” fell to second place from first with $25.5 million.

The animated film from Pixar provided a needed boost to Burbank, California-based Disney, which is trailing its five largest competitors in 2009 ticket sales. The studio was down 19 percent in domestic sales year to date as of May 28, compared with a 13 percent advance for the industry overall, according to Box Office Mojo LLC, which also tracks receipts.

“The premises of their movies are so extraordinary,” said Steve Mason, an analyst at BigHollywood.Breitbart.com. “I’ve learned not to doubt this company because they always pull it off.”

Up” opened in 3,766 theaters, including 1,534 equipped to show the film in 3-D. Cinema owners are adding 3-D projectors to accommodate the increasing number of films that utilize the technology. Studios will release more than a dozen 3-D films in 2009, including James Cameron’s “Avatar,” set for Dec. 18.

The Incredibles,” a movie about a family of reluctant super-heroes seeking anonymity, earned $70.5 million in its opening weekend in November 2004 for Pixar, the unit’s best-ever debut.

Up,” featuring the voice of Ed Asner, tells the story of a retiree who tries to fulfill his dream of traveling the world by tying scores of balloons to his house. He’s joined by unexpected companions, including a boy who happens to be on the porch when the house takes off. Of 134 reviews compiled on Rottentomatoes.com, 131 were favorable.

Source: Bloomberg.com