Long Range Forecast: Can INSIDE OUT 2 Be the First $100M Opener of 2024?

Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

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Long Range Forecast — June 14-16, 2024

Inside Out 2 | Disney/Pixar
Domestic Opening Weekend Range: $80 – $115M

At the risk of hyperbole, Inside Out 2 may be the film with the most riding on it at the box office in 2024. The Pixar title will be the first new release of the year to hit theaters under the Disney banner in a year where the studio and exhibitors alike are desperately in need of a breakout hit. The studio’s theatrical output in the first semester of 2024 has been paltry: a trio of animated re-releases that have been widely available on its Disney+ streaming service for years, none of them ever reaching more than 1,560 screens in their respective theatrical runs. The bulk of Disney’s box office in 2024 has been achieved by a grand total of two new releases under its 20th Century Studios division: April’s The First Omen ($20M domestic to date) and May’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes ($70M+ domestic to date).

20th Century Studios was launched as a standalone label under Disney’s distribution arm in January 2020, following the studio’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox years earlier. Concerns that consolidation between two major studios would result in a dramatic decrease in the number of films destined for theaters have been confirmed since—a situation exacerbated by production stoppages stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic and last year’s Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strikes. Before 2020, Disney was the highest-grossing studio at the domestic box office for four consecutive years. Those days are long gone for a studio that sat out the entire first semester of the year at the box office under the Disney label.

Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios faced similar challenges at the box office during the same period. Its 2020 title, Onward, saw its theatrical run derailed by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. A modest $39.1M debut on March 6, 2020, was crushed by a 73% drop in its sophomore frame as movie theaters worldwide gradually suspended operations. Pixar’s following three films went directly to streaming, the latter two forgoing theaters entirely despite their re-opening: Soul (December 2020), Luca (June 2021), and Turning Red (March 2022).

When Pixar finally made its long-awaited return to cinemas, it did so with a Toy Story spin-off title on a prime release date. Lightyear hit theaters in mid-June of 2022, crash-landing with audiences in what proved to be that year’s biggest box office disappointment. A $50m opening weekend came in well below expectations, resulting in a $118M domestic run—the lowest-ever performance for a Pixar title to have enjoyed an uninterrupted wide release.

Pixar’s next outing in theaters improved upon the calamitous performance of Lightyear, if only slightly. Released over the same mid-June weekend of 2023, the film got off on an alarming start by sharing the lowest opening weekend of all-time for a Pixar title ($29M) with the studio’s debut film, 1995’s Toy Story.

Recent history doesn’t paint a hopeful picture for Inside Out 2, which is scheduled to come out on the same weekend that Pixar’s 2022 Lightyear and 2023 Elemental failed to click. It will also be entering the market on the heels of two competing family titles: Paramount’s IF (5/17) and Sony’s The Garfield Movie (5/24). Neither of those titles has shown pre-release tracking figures that suggest a theatrical run past the $150 million mark. The only family title to have succeeded in the first semester of 2024 is Universal’s Kung Fu Panda 4, which is hovering under the $200 million domestic benchmark in the final weeks of its run.

Our outlook for Inisde Out 2‘s opening weekend is less dire than the context around its release suggests. Disney has high hopes for this title, and its marketing machine is already out in full force, promoting it as one of the must-see theatrical events of the summer. Inside Out 2 emerged as the centerpiece of Disney’s CinemaCon 2024 presentation, with 35 minutes of the film screened for exhibitors. The footage presented received some of the highest marks among all the titles previewed at the Las Vegas convention.

Its predecessor, the original Inside Out, scored a $90M domestic opening weekend over the same mid-June window in 2015. The original finished the year as the fourth-highest-grossing film at the domestic box office with $356.4M. That film’s staying power bodes well for Inside Out 2‘s chances on the current market, especially in its role as the first true Pixar sequel to reach theaters after the pandemic.

Early pre-sales data already presents a significant uptick over direct competitors IF (Paramount) and The Garfield Movie (Sony) over the same period. The low end of our range currently has Inside Out 2 coming in 10% behind the opening weekend of its 2015 predecessor, in itself representing a massive improvement over Disney and Pixar’s recent form in the market. An opening weekend coinciding with Father’s Day should provide comfortable bumps through Sunday and healthy walk-up business from families. If Inside Out 2 continues outpacing its competition in pre-sales at this clip, however, it could become the first title of 2024 to score a $100M opening weekend at the domestic box office. Whatever the outcome, as long as Inside Out 2 meets expectations, it will be a welcome return to form for Disney, Pixar, and movie theaters worldwide.

Tracking Updates [as of 5/17]

Release DateTitleOpening Weekend RangeDistributor
5/24/24Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga$40-$55MWarner Bros.
5/24/24The Garfield Movie$30-$50MSony
6/7/24Bad Boys: Ride or Die$55-$75MSony
6/7/24The Watchers$12-$20MWarner Bros.

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Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

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