After nine hits and four Academy Awards for films including WALL-E and Ratatouille, the Pixar Animation gang finally feels it has made it to the grown-ups’ table with Up, the first animated movie to open the Cannes Film Festival.

The Oscars compartmentalize animated films into their own category. Audiences often do the same, lumping animation in as a genre meant mainly for kids. But Pixar’s creative minds feel the choice of Up as the Cannes curtain raiser signals that animation can stand alongside the best that live-action films might offer.

“It is one of the greatest kinds of rewards, it’s one of the greatest things that’s happened to us in our career,’’ said Pixar’s John Lasseter, who pioneered feature-length computer animation with the two Toy Story movies.

“To see animation respected at the world’s premier film festival. To be given opening night ... you pinch yourself. You just can’t believe it,’’ said Lasseter, who also oversees animation at Walt Disney, Pixar’s parent company.

The English-language version of Up features Edward Asner providing the voice of a brokenhearted widower who renews his spirit of adventure after floating his house off to South America under thousands of helium balloons.

“There’s a perception that animated films are for kids. A lot of people have that... The films are made by adults who have very adult concerns,’’ said Ed Catmull, president of Disney and Pixar’s animation studios. “What happens now at Cannes is they’re recognizing it as a film. Not as a category, but as a really great film.’’

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