A filth-covered robot, his cockroach friend, and a spaceship filled with bloated humans is a strange-sounding story for the latest animation that has critics and movie-goers going "wow."
Pixar's latest animation "WALL-E" debuted this past weekend as the No. 1 movie in America with $62.5 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday from Nielsen EDI. The family-friendly movie beat Angelina Jolie's violent assassin thriller "Wanted," which opened in second place with an estimated $51.1 million.
"The real secret is they're (Pixar animations) not children's movies. They're movies for everybody," explained Mark Zoradi, president of Disney's motion-picture group, according to CBS News. "Children absolutely adore them, but parents enjoy them on a different level."
Interestingly, more than a fifth of the audience was adults without children, noted Chuck Viane, head of distribution at Disney, according to USA Today.
"WALL-E" takes place centuries in the future when Earth is abandoned by humans because it is over-polluted. One lonely robot named WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), who someone forgot to turn-off before leaving the planet, remains working day after day compacting the skyscraper-high pile of trash.
Co-writer and director Andrew Stanton said the idea for the character WALL-E was sparked during a Pixar lunch meeting in 1994.
"It was literally the sentence, 'Hey, what if mankind left Earth and someone left the last robot on and it kept doing the same thing dutifully forever,'" Stanton said at a Chicago promotion event in June. "And I thought that was the saddest, loneliest character I ever heard in my life."
But Stanton and others at Pixar put the idea "on the shelf" because they thought no one would let them make such a movie. But the idea came back to Stanton when he was working on "Finding Nemo."
"I couldn't stop [thinking about the lonely robot character]," Stanton said. "I realized what I am attracted to is the pure loneliness of this character and the opposite of that is love. So it should be a love story. From then on suddenly the sky opened and I just couldn't stop writing."
As the only robot left on Earth, WALL-E works alone each day cleaning up the planet and collects interesting human knick-knacks along the way. His collection includes a Rubik's cube, bubble wrap, a lightbulb, and a whisk. But his most prized treasure is a VHS tape of "Hello, Dolly," which he watches obsessively causing him to develop a romantic personality.
One day WALL-E meets the sleek, futuristic probe robot EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), who is on a mission to find proof that life is sustainable on Earth so that humans drifting through the universe on a luxury space ship can return to re-inhabit their home planet.
WALL-E falls in love with EVE and chases after her across the galaxy and into the space ship when she is recalled to the space craft. Aboard the ship, the two, along with a group of malfunctioning robots, fall into a bunch of trouble and get entangled in a power struggle between the Auto-Pilot robot and the human captain.
Amid his pursuit of EVE, WALL-E teaches the humans aboard the ship – who have become lost in technological convenience – how to "live" and value relationships.
"WALL-E" is Pixar's ninth straight No.1 and is tied for the third largest opening. It falls behind "The Incredibles"($70.4 million), "Finding Nemo" ($70.2 million), and is tied with "Monsters, Inc." Last year's Oscar-winning animation, "Ratatouille," opened with $47 million.