‘Inside Out 2’ Shatters Box Office Expectations With $155 Million, Biggest Debut Since ‘Barbie’

Move over Anxiety, there’s a new dominant emotion at the box office: Joy!

Disney and Pixar’s expressive animated sequel “Inside Out 2” scored a mighty $155 million in its first weekend of release, overtaking “Dune: Part Two” ($82.5 million) and “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” ($80 million) as the biggest opening of the year. It’s also the first movie since last July’s “Barbie” ($162 million) to debut above $100 million. Heading into the weekend, the follow-up film to 2015’s cerebral hit “Inside Out” was projected to collect $80 million to $90 million.

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The second “Inside Out 2” also connected at the international box office with $140 million, enough to surpass “Frozen 2” ($135 million) as the biggest overseas animated opening of all time. Turnout was especially strong across Latin America, where it landed the second-biggest opening of all time behind Disney’s Marvel epic “Avengers: Endgame.” Globally, the movie has grossed $295 million to notch the title for biggest animated debut in like-for-like markets at current exchange rates. It carries a $200 million production budget.

“Inside Out 2” marks a huge win for theaters, which have been nervously waiting for the dismal summer season to take off. It’s also a triumph for Pixar, which has struggled at the box office in recent years as Disney sent films like “Turning Red,” “Soul” and “Luca” directly to Disney+ during the pandemic. Pixar chief Pete Docter, who directed 2015’s “Inside Out,” maintained that COVID-era strategy “trained” audiences to watch the studio’s movies at home — hence the comparatively less-embraced theatrical releases of 2022’s “Lightyear” and 2023’s “Elemental.”

Well, it looks like families have rediscovered the power of Pixar on the big screen. This debut marks the second biggest in Pixar history, ahead of 2016’s “Finding Dory” ($135 million) and 2019’s “Toy Story 4” ($120 million) and behind only 2018’s “Incredibles 2” ($182 million). Ticket sales for “Inside Out 2” towered over the original, which opened to $90.5 million. The first “Inside Out” became a runaway, Oscar-winning success, ending its theatrical run with $356 million in North America and $858.8 million globally.

“This is a sensational opening by Pixar’s own exceptional standard for a follow-up sequel,” says David A. Gross of movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. He adds, ” Pixar sequels are in a league of their own.”

Thanks to the wave of emotions in “Inside Out 2,” this is the first weekend in 2024 to surpass $200 million across all titles collectively. As a result, the year-to-date deficit shrank from 26% to 23.8%, according to Comscore. Yet it remains to be seen whether the rest of the summer slate — “A Quiet Place: Day One” (June 28), “Despicable Me 4” (July 3) and “Deadpool & Wolverine” (July 26) are gearing up to release — can capitalize on the momentum of “Inside Out 2.”

“With the phenomenal opening of ‘Inside Out 2’ — which exceeded some projections by nearly 50% — and big advance tracking on a number of forthcoming releases, the post-strike comeback is officially on,” predicts Imax CEO Rich Gelfond. He’s bullish because “Inside Out 2” enjoyed a big turnout on his company’s premium screens, accounting for $14.5 million of global ticket sales.

Critics and audiences were charmed by “Inside Out 2,” which arrived nearly ten years after the original adventure about the inner feelings — including Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and Anger (Lewis Black) — of a young girl named Riley. The sequel, directed by Kelsey Mann in his feature debut, revisits a teenaged Riley, who discovers new emotions of Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser) and Nostalgia (June Squibb) as she heads to summer camp. The film boasts an “A” CinemaScore and 92% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

As this weekend’s only new release, “Inside Out 2” had no trouble taking the box office crown from the previous champ, “Bad Boys: Ride or Die.” The fourth installment in Sony’s buddy-cop comedy, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, slid to second place with an impressive $33 million in its second weekend of release. So far, “Bad Boys 4” has grossed $112 million in North America and $214.6 million globally.

Disney and 20th Century’s “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” climbed to third place with $5.2 million in its sixth weekend of release. The fourth chapter in the “Apes” reboot franchise has earned $157.8 million domestically and $374.5 worldwide to stand as the year’s fourth-highest-grossing movie.

Sony’s animated “The Garfield Movie” dropped to the No. 4 spot as “Inside Out 2” likely encroached on the same moviegoing demographic. It brought in $5 million in its fourth outing, boosting its tally to $78 million in North America and $217 million globally. The film only cost $60 million to produce, so it’s a solid winner for Sony and Alcon Entertainment.

Paramount’s kids film “IF” added $3.4 million in its fifth weekend of release. The movie, directed by John Krasinski and starring Ryan Reynolds, started slow but has since rebounded with $100.9 million domestically and $173 million worldwide. Yet the studio spent $110 million to make “IF,” so the film still requires outsized returns to justify its budget.

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