Scott Bowles -- USA TODAY
The zombie invasion was bigger than expected, but so was enrollment at a university for monsters
Despite a strong showing from Brad Pitt's zombie flick World War Z, Pixar's Monsters University looks on track to win one of the more hotly contested weekends of summer.
The prequel did $82 million, according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com. The debut was $7 million above analysts' predictions and marked the 14th straight No. 1 film in Pixar's 18-year history.
While forecasters expected a Monsters victory, they weren't ready for such tight competition from WWZ, which did $66 million.
Analysts predicted a $50 million opening for WWZ, which became Pitt's biggest opening weekend, eclipsing Mr. & Mrs. Smith's debut of $50 million in 2005.
Monsters capitalized on a dearth of films geared toward family and younger kids, says Tim Briody of Boxofficeprophets.com.
"With schools out, there was demand and Monsters University is coming along at the right time," he says.
WWZ, meanwhile, demonstrates "the star power of ... zombies," he says. "Oh, and maybe that Brad Pitt guy, too."
Briody says WWZ fed off "the popularity of The Walking Dead, and zombies in general, a Super Bowl commercial and being a well-known book."
Man of Steel, the Superman film that scored the biggest debut for a movie in June last week, looks to be coming to earth quickly, dropping more than 65% this weekend for a weekend haul of $41.2 million.
The Seth Rogen comedy This is the End took fourth with $13 million, followed by the magician-caper film Now You See Me, which did $7.9 million. Final figures are due Monday.