This was actually a subdued performance by Pixar's lofty standards that many attributed to the conceptually unpalatable subject matter - a gourmet rat takes over a restaurant kitchen - as well as the stiff competition from Bruce Willis' latest tour of duty as America's favourite gung-ho cop John McClane.
Ratatouille delivered the lowest opening for a Pixar title since 1998 when A Bug's Life launched on $33.3m. Cars opened on $60.1m last year and went on to gross $244m.
Buena Vista distribution chiefs played it cool this weekend, stressing that overwhelming critical adulation, the imminent July 4 public holiday, and ongoing school holidays boded well for Ratatouille in the long run. Patton Oswalt, Brad Garrett, Peter O'Toole, Janeana Garofalo and Ian Holm provide key voice talent.
Fox gave Live Free Or Die Hard a two-day head start over Pixar's rat, and the action film took a decent $33.2m over three and $48.2m haul over five days to rank number two. Willis' ever-popular hero returns to action against Timothy Olyphant's techno-terrorist who threatens to grind the US economy to a halt.
Universal's beleaguered comedy sequel Evan Almighty fell to third place on $15.1m and looks set to become this summer's first expensive flop on $60.6m after two weekends. By contrast studio top brass will be delighted with their other active comedy, Knocked Up, which has amassed $122m after five.
Dimension Films' old-school horror tale 1408, released in North America through MGM, is performing solidly and ranks fourth on $40.4m after two. Fox's Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer is also doing good business and stands in fifth place on $114.8m after three.
Michael Moore's critique of the US health service Sicko, a Weinstein Company (TWC) film released through Lionsgate, went wider in its second weekend and climbed 22 places to number nine on $4.5m from 441 screens for a $4.6m tally.
TWC sources said that this was the second biggest opening for a documentary behind Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. The film actually launched at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square in New York last weekend on $70,000 and played in sneak previews across the country.
Focus Features' poorly reviewed female drama Evening with Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Claire Danes, Vanessa Redgrave and Toni Collette opened in 10th place on $3.5m.
Next weekend's wide releases are two weekday releases set to take advantage of the July 4 national holiday on Wednesday. Paramount's action epic Transformers starring Shia LaBeouf and opens on Jul 3, as does Warner Bros' comedy License To Wed with Robin Williams, Mandy Moore, and John Krasinski.
Estimated Top 10 North America June 29-Jul 1, 2007
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Ratatouille (Buena Vista) BVI $47.2m -
2 (-) Live Free Or Die Hard (Fox) Fox Int'l $33.2m $48.2m
3 (1) Evan Almighty (Universal) UPI $15.1m $60.6m
4 (2) 1408 (MGM) TWC $10.6m $40.4m
5 (3) Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (Fox) Fox Int'l $9m $114.8m
6 (5) Knocked Up (Universal) UPI $7.4m $122.4m
7 (4) Ocean's Thirteen (Warner Bros) WBPI $6.1m $102.1m
8 (6) Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End (Buena Vista) BVI $5m $295.8m
9 (31) Sicko (Lionsgate) TWC $4.5m $4.6m
10 (-) Evening (Focus Features) Focus Features International $3.5m -