Inside Out 2 Smashes All Expectations For A Joyfully Massive Opening Weekend

WHO’S THERE? – In Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Anger (voice of Lewis Black), Fear (voice of Tony Hale) and Disgust (voice of Liza Lapira) aren’t sure how to feel when Anxiety (voice of Maya Hawke) shows up unexpectedly. Directed by Kelsey Mann and produced by Mark Nielsen, “Inside Out 2” releases only in theaters Summer 2024. © 2023 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
WHO’S THERE? – In Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith), Anger (voice of Lewis Black), Fear (voice of Tony Hale) and Disgust (voice of Liza Lapira) aren’t sure how to feel when Anxiety (voice of Maya Hawke) shows up unexpectedly. Directed by Kelsey Mann and produced by Mark Nielsen, “Inside Out 2” releases only in theaters Summer 2024. © 2023 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved. /

Before the summer of 2024 began, the expectation was that there would be no hit as large as Barbie/Top Gun: Maverick/Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness until Deadpool and Wolverine showed up at the end of July. None of the titles scheduled for the first 12 weeks of summer 2024 immediately looked like they’d become massive hits. Why put undue expectations on them to perform above their weight? Turns out, though, a feature on par with the first big summer blockbusters of the 2020s was waiting in the wings. Inside Out 2 was the $100+ million domestic opener that the 2024 yearly box office has been craving. Not only that, but the latest Pixar sequel provided Disney with the sort of non-Marvel/Avatar juggernaut smash the studios lacked the last few years. 

Over its first three days of release, Inside Out 2 grossed a staggering $155 million. That absolutely obliterated pre-release expectations of an $80-95 million domestic debut. That debut is the second biggest domestic animated movie opening weekend ever. Only fellow June Pixar sequel Incredibles 2 did better. It also left the $90 million bow of the original Inside Out in the dust. It’s the third biggest domestic June opening weekend of all time, only behind Jurassic World and Incredibles 2. Oh, and after just three days, it’s the second-biggest movie ever in North America to feature Kyle MacLachlan. Little trivia there for all you Dale Cooper fanatics! Inside Out 2 also dethroned Captain Marvel for the biggest domestic opening weekend in history for a film whose score was composed by a woman. This is especially impressive given that this was the first feature-length film composed by Andrea Datzman!

In the 2010s, Pixar released seven sequels. All but two Cars sequels opened to over $80 million. All but three of them debuted to $100+ million grosses. In hindsight, those facts make it seem like a $100+ million haul for Inside Out 2 should’ve been a foregone conclusion. However, the mixed box office track record of 2020s Disney blockbusters and uncertainty over whether or not Inside Out was as beloved as, say, Finding Nemo tempered expectations.

Now that Inside Out 2 has become a monster hit, it’s clear the first Inside Out has a massive fanbase that endeared audiences to the idea of more adventures in this universe. Marketing that sold a clear hook for how this follow-up offered something new (the presence of emotions like Anxiety and the plot point of “Riley’s a teenager now!”) gave people reason to be confident this motion picture wouldn’t just be a retread of its predecessor. Plus, excellent word of mouth among audiences (see that A CinemaScore) helped keep the party going all weekend long.

Inside Out 2’s extreme success among women and Latinx moviegoers is also yet another sign (following Bad Boys: Ride or Die this past weekend) that Hollywood must make movies for all demos. Appealing to just older white males isn’t enough to keep the marketplace afloat. Inside Out 2 was the first movie of the summer to really draw in lots of women moviegoers. That can’t be dismissed as a key reason why it overperformed. “If you build it, they will come,” as Field of Dreams said. It’s also true for the theatrical marketplace.

What’s extra impressive about Inside Out 2’s performance is that the track record of past Pixar franchise titles (save for the two Cars sequels) suggest this film will be around for a long time. Finding Dory, Incredibles 2, and Monsters University each did more than three times their opening weekends in their North American runs. Toy Story 3 and 4 did 3.5+ times their opening weekends over their domestic releases. These trends suggest Inside Out 2 could be looking at a domestic haul north of $465 million, especially since its day to day holds over opening weekend were incredibly strong. For now, though, this massive domestic overperformance is incredibly impressive enough. Everyone prepare themselves for The Great Dinosaur or something. Pixar won’t be slowing down on the sequels anytime soon now. 

The domestic box office didn't just flourish this weekend because of Inside Out 2, though. Bad Boys: Ride or Die also added a whopping $33 million to its impressive domestic total. That's a measly 42% decline from its opening weekend. Ride or Die now has $112.2 million domestically after just ten days of release. There aren't any other big R-rated action movies in sight and Bad Boys will likely get a boost from the 4th of July weekend. A $200+ million domestic total isn't impossible. For now, let's say this one ends in the neighborhood of $180 million. Very impressive.

In third place was another Disney title, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. It eased just 4% from last weekend with another $5.2 million for a $157.8 million total. Considering its strong performance thus far, the newest Apes has a good chance of clearing $170 million domestically. That would put it roughly on par with the domestic finish Rise of the Planet of the Apes. In a year where many sequels are making a fraction of what their predecessors grossed, that's an impressive feat! The Garfield Movie dropped 50% to $5 million to a domestic haul that's reached $78.6 million. Nothing extraordinary, but on a $60 million budget, Garfield will prove plenty profitable.

IF rounded out the top five $3.45 million, a 56% drop from last frame. Inside Out 2 severely impacted this title’s legs, but the feature’s still amassed a solid $101 million domestic haul. Only a handful of original features have cracked $100 million domestically since March 2020 (Migration, Nope, Elemental, etc.) Props to IF for getting past that mark. In its second weekend, The Watchers actually had a slightly better than usual hold for a horror movie that receives poor audience and critic scores by dipping 48%. However, it only amassed another $3.66 million for a $13.66 million domestic total. Not a seismic failure, but very much a box office dud. Furiosa, meanwhile, still can't catch a break. Dipping 42% this weekend, Furiosa snatched another $2.4 million for an underwhelming 24-day total of $63.1 million. The movie's great, y'all. Hopefully it has a long shelf life beyond its box office woes.

The Fall Guy grossed $1.5 million in its seventh weekend of release, putting it at an $87.9 million domestic total. Expanding into wide release this weekend was Tuesday. It brought in an anemic $$292,471 from 654 locations for a per-theater average of $447. This title will ultimately struggle to crack $1 million domestically, a disastrous sum but not necessarily surprising. There just wasn't much marketing or inescapable critical buzz to bolster the movie’s sudden expansion into hundreds of theaters. Plus, A24’s arthouse titles tend to be most successful when courting younger moviegoers. This one didn’t have the same teen/college student pull as I Saw the TV Glow or Love Lies Bleeding.

One of the few other movies opening in wide release this weekend was Treasure. This Lena Dunham/Stephen Fry drama grossed a dismal $243,757 from 650 theaters for a $375 per-theater-average. No surprise why this one flopped, the marketing for it was nonexistent. Save for one 49-second clip awkwardly dropped at the start of the year, distributer Bleecker Street didn't start the proper marketing campaign for this feature until a month before its debut.

I Saw the TV Glow continued its quietly terrific run this weekend with $164,509. That means it scored its third-straight weekend-to-weekend dip below 40%. This indie hit has now grossed $4.6 million and should become only the second limited release movie of the year to exceed $5 million. Robot Dreams, meanwhile, went into 39 theaters and grossed a decent $83,100 for a $214,273 total. Ghostlight (a terrific little indie) opened to $38,300 from three locations this weekend for a per-theater-average of $12,767. That's just beneath the $13,938 opening weekend per-theater-average of Monica, an indie title that dropped last summer courtesy of Ghostlight distributor IFC Films. We'll see if Ghostlight has the legs to beat out Monica's $152,619 domestic total.

The top 10 movies this weekend grossed a massive $212.3 million. That's by far the biggest single weekend of the year so far. That's also up 31% from the same weekend last year when The Flash ruled over the June 2023 marketplace. Fun fact: The Flash and Elemental's opening weekend this time last year combined to about $82 million. Inside Out 2 nearly doubled that haul all by itself! This is also only the 50th domestic weekend in history crack $210+ million, the eighth biggest June weekend of all-time, and the seventh-biggest domestic weekend of the 2020s so far.

Summer 2024 has finally reached the kind of big mid-June weekend studio executive and theater owner dreams are made of. Considering what a challenging year it’s been so far for theatrical exhibitors (and especially the everyday workers impacted by poor theatrical attendance), here’s to hoping this prosperous frame is a harbinger of more positive things to come rather than an anomaly in the summer 2024 landscape.

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