Toy Story wins the weekend box office

The expectations for ‘ToyStory 4’ were a bit too high, as optimists were eyeing the Disney/Pixar sequel to open in the $160-$200 million range.  Unfortunately, by the end of the weekend, Disney declared that ‘TS4’s opening haul was $118M.  While that is far below those lofty projections, it’s still the third-highest opening this year after ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and ‘Captain Marvel’— all Disney pics.  Generally speaking, Pixar films tend to open on Father’s Day weekend, but this one didn’t, which could account for the lower-than-anticipated numbers.  Pixar’s next film, ‘Soul’ is already locked to open next Father’s Day.

However, Disney President of Distribution and Franchise management, Cathleen Taff, expressed:

“It’s a huge debut and we’re thrilled about the opening.  People love the Toy Story characters and show up for these films.”

Everyone loves ‘TS4’ with many critics proclaiming it to be the best ‘Toy Story’ yet, which is quite high praise, considering how beloved this franchise is.  It holds a 98% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes.  CinemaScore reports audiences giving it an A rating, while PostTrak audiences showered it with 5 out of 5 stars for all adults and 4½ stars from kids under 12.  That once again speaks to how beloved this franchise is, especially among adults who grew up with it.

Negatively speaking, this sadly continues the “franchise fatigue” that had plagued the box office for the last several weeks, with sequels that were expected to make much more opening well below expectations– ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’, ‘Dark Phoenix’, ‘Men in Black: International’, and ‘Shaft’.

But, this is different.  Yes, ‘TS4’ opened below some projections, but those projections were somewhat wonky to begin with, as it was being judged by the same standard as monster openings ‘Finding Dory’ and ‘Incredibles 2’.  Those were the second movies in their respective series and they arrived 13-14 years after the firsts.  ‘TS4’ is… well, the fourth, and it has been a shorter nine years since ‘TS3’, so the anticipation wasn’t as frenzied.

Worldwide, its opening is $238M, the highest ever for an animated picture, overtaking ‘Incredibles 2’s $235.8M.  When all is said and done, ‘TS4’ is likely to take in $900M – $1 billion by the end of its theatrical run.

Overall, this just seems like a lower-than-average weekend at the box office and while ‘TS4’ didn’t do as well as some were predicting, it dominated all other movies.  In counterprogramming, ‘Child’s Play’ took second place with $16M, over a hundred million less than ‘TS4’.  Deadline credits part of ‘Child’s Play’s appeal to the shared experience of seeing a horror movie in a crowded theater.

‘Child’s Play’ didn’t fair too badly with critics, ranking 60% on Rotten Tomatoes.  This is downright GLOWING praise for a horror movie.  In an odd flip-flop from the norm, audiences were more critical than the critics, with it only earning a C+ via CinemaScore.

‘Aladdin’ continues to hold strong, earning $12.2M and landing at third place.  Worldwide, this Disney champ has crossed the $800M mark.  ‘Aladdin’ has been out for almost a month, so to continue to hold up while other big flicks come and go– once again, ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’, ‘Dark Phoenix’, etc.– is incredibly impressive.  In a less competitive market, it may have even beaten ‘Beauty and the Beast’, which opened in mid-March, and took in more than a billion.  ‘Aladdin’ MIGHT make that, but after a month, it doesn’t seem likely.

The Top Five was rounded out by ‘Men in Black: International’, and ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’.

Will Annabelle win next weekend's Weekend Box Office?TOP FIVE

  1. Toy Story 4 (Disney) – $118M
  2. Child’s Play (UA/Orion) – $14M
  3. Aladdin (Disney) – $12.2M
  4. Men in Black: International (Sony) – $10.8M
  5. The Secret Life of Pets (Illumination/Universal) – $10.3M

How are there TWO scary doll movies opening back-to-back?  Is there that much demand?  Regardless, it looks as though the major studios saw ‘Toy Story 4’ as a behemoth to steer clear of, meaning that there won’t be any huge pictures opening next weekend.  Blumhouse’s ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ carries on the popular ‘Conjuring’ brand, which is still going pretty strong.  Will Annabelle slay Chucky?  We’ll see.

Also opening is the feel-good Beatles-inspired fantasy ‘Yesterday’.

Though it doesn’t open next weekend, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ swings its way into theaters on Tuesday, July 2nd.  That date allows it to get a headstart on the weekend, due to the fact that the usual “preview night” of Thursday falls on the 4th of July and most Americans won’t be going to the movies that evening.

But next weekend it will be a race between ‘TS4′, Annabelle’, and maybe ‘Yesterday’.  Check back to see how things work out.

Will Spider-Man: Far From Home win next weekend's Weekend Box Office?
Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME