By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
June 21, 2010

But Pixar’s record ticket sales are small Mr. Potato Heads for what’s coming next

“Utopian in its faith in technological progress, artisanal in its devotion to quality and nearly unbeatable in its marketing savvy.”

That’s how
New York Times
‘ A.O. Scott described Steve Jobs’ other company — Pixar — in his review of Toy Story 3 last week.

The digital animation house that shares some of Apple’s (AAPL) DNA, and which Jobs sold to Disney (DIS) in 2006, just racked up its 11th No. 1 box office hit and its biggest opening yet, pulling in $109 million in North America over the weekend and putting itself on track to deliver $400 million in domestic ticket sales.

But the queues of movie goers for last Thursday’s midnight showing are likely to pale in comparison to the lines that have already started to form for this Thursday’s release of the iPhone 4, Apple’s fourth remake of what’s shaping up as its biggest hit.

Estimates of the number of units Apple will sell this coming weekend range from a modest 1 million to an extraordinary 3 million. Splitting the difference, and assuming purchases are split evenly between the $199 and $299 models, the iPhone 4 launch could generate opening weekend sales nearly five times bigger than Toy Story 3’s.

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