Weekend Forecast: Toy Story 4 Aims to Corral One of the All-Time Best Animated Debuts as Child’s Play Courts Horror Fans

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After what’s been a, frankly, dismal past two weekends for new releases, who else but Disney and Pixar can liven up the summer box office? Meanwhile, another familiar toy will hope to scare up its own appeal to a very different crowd…

Toy Story 4
Opening Weekend Range: $140 million – $170 million

PROS:

  • Toy Story 4 is expected to benefit from some of the most potent goodwill any animated franchise (or otherwise, for that matter) has ever built up across a handful of films in a quarter-century’s time. The previous film established a new Pixar standard with its $110.3 million debut in June 2010 (before Finding Dory surpassed it six years later with $135.1 million), and earned a dominant $415 million domestically thanks to critical and audience acclaim.
  • Initial critics’ reactions for this new entry suggest Pixar has “done it again”, with the fourth entry standing at a remarkable 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. That should play into a long and healthy midsummer run at the box office, regardless of where opening weekend lands on the all-time charts.
  • Although Secret Life of Pets 2 was expected to generate stronger demand as the first animated tentpole release this summer, that sequel’s relatively modest performance thus far could easily play into an expectation that families have been saving their money for the latest Disney/Pixar blockbuster-to-be — especially given the performance of Dory and Incredibles 2, the latter of which set the animated weekend record last June with $182.7 million.
  • Early pre-sales for Toy Story 4 reportedly eclipsed those of Incredibles 2 in the first days of availability, leading to some models projecting that Woody, Buzz, and company’s latest adventure could surprise and beat early tracking in the same vein as the superhero sequel did.
  • Trailer reactions by and large have been incredibly postiive in recent months, thanks in part to the introduction of new characters like Forky and the promise of additions to the stellar voice cast — not the least of which include Keanu Reeves, Jordan Peele, and Keegan-Michael Key.
  • According to Showtimes Dashboard, our parent company’s showtime tracking service, theaters have currently booked Toy Story 4 for 12 percent more shows on average throughout opening weekend than exhibitors ultimately gaveIncredibles 2.
  • Disney will release the film in an estimated 4,500+ locations this weekend (guaranteeing at least the fourth widest opening in domestic history), including 400 IMAX screens, 750 PLF screens, 2,900 3D screens, and 240 D-Box/4D offerings. That translates to high potential for average ticket prices and tracking models to exceed those of comparable animated sequels prior to the last few years.
  • As with most animated releases, the major caveat to tracking is that walk-up business should be very strong relative to many live-action franchise titles.

CONS:

  • Although not a blanket rule, fourth entries in franchises have a mixed history at the box office — particularly after the perceived conclusion of a “trilogy” (see recent examples such as the Despicable Me / Minions films, plus the Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Shrek series). That had been the earned assumption of many older fans after Toy Story 3‘s emotional ending, and it could be playing into the reason why pre-sales have ultimately trailed off the pace of Incredibles 2 recently.
  • Another key difference between Toy Story 4‘s position relative to recent Pixar films is that it won’t have the benefit of Father’s Day to boost attendance on Sunday. Incredibles 2, Cars 3, Finding Dory, and Inside Out each opened on that holiday frame over the past four years. Toy Story 3 itself opened on Father’s Day weekend in 2010, enabling it to ease just 13.5 percent from Saturday to Sunday.

Child’s Play
Opening Weekend Range: $15 – 25 million

PROS:

  • Horror audiences haven’t had much to be excited about this summer with Ma catering mostly to teen audiences earlier this month. The added appeal to older crowds in a nostalgic play could fuel interest this weekend.
  • The film’s marketing campaign has proven to be one of the most creative of the year, driving surprisingly strong social media traction in recent weeks as they took advantage of the simultaneous Toy Story 4 release and spoofed that franchise’s characters to generate attention for itself. The studio reports over 83 million views across the pic’s two online trailers.

CONS:

  • As recent fare like Ma itself and the Pet Sematary remake have proven (again), horror films are among the most notorious to track in pre-release corridors. The upcoming release of Annabelle Comes Home next week could serve to dampen some of Child’s Play‘s breakout potential this weekend (especially with the genre’s reliable teen audience limited by an R rating).

Anna
Opening Weekend Range: Under $4 million

PROS:

  • Female-driven action pics have found modest success in recent years (Atomic Blonde two summers ago), most notably 2014’s Lucy which was helmed by the same director (Luc Besson). A solid supporting cast is worth noting here as well.

CONS:

  • Interest and awareness metrics have been generally soft across the board for this somewhat-under-the-radar release whose marketing campaign hasn’t penetrated a significant portion of the market.

Top 10 vs. Last Year

Boxoffice projects this weekend’s top ten films will decline approximately 13 – 19 percent from the same weekend last year when Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom bowed to $148 million and Incredibles 2 enjoyed an $80.4 million sophomore frame as part of an overall $269.4 million top ten market.

Weekend Forecast

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, June 23 % Change from Last Wknd
Toy Story 4 Disney / Pixar $149,000,000 $149,000,000 NEW
Child’s Play (2019) United Artists Releasing $18,000,000 $18,000,000 NEW
Men In Black International Sony / Columbia $12,100,000 $53,500,000 -60%
The Secret Life of Pets 2 Universal / Illumination $11,300,000 $116,200,000 -54%
Aladdin (2019) Disney $10,400,000 $284,800,000 -40%

Alex Edghill contributed to this report

Forecasts subject to change as location counts are finalized before Friday.

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