While Jurassic World is expected to continue to dominate the overseas charts this weekend, with a potential 40%-60% drop from its record-breaking $315.6M opening, Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out is primed to stir emotions in the minds of international moviegoers. The latest from Up helmer Pete Docter is the first Pixar movie since 2013’s Monsters University and offshore audiences have been well primed for this rapturously-reviewed film. After it played CinemaCon to raves in April, Inside Out crossed the Atlantic for an international bow at the Cannes Film Festival. To say it was the Joy of the fortnight would not be an exaggeration. And, Pixar smartly rode the wave of good will to showcase many of its upcoming offerings at a two-hour invite-only presentation just off the Croisette a few days later.
Inside Out is opening in 28 offshore markets this weekend, which will cover about 42% of the international footprint. Industry estimates, as my colleague Anthony D’Alessandro reported, are pegged at $60M-$65M domestically. Overseas, I’m hearing a $40M start for those 28 markets. Among the biggest are, natch, France, along with Brazil, Russia, Mexico and Australia. But hold on, in Oz, Inside Out will be staring down full-frontal competition from the other big animated film in the summer marketplace with Universal/Illumination’s Minions also bowing there this frame. Universal is putting the Despicable Me spinoff into four territories (Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia round them out) to start the drum beating while, especially in Australia, kids are off from school — Oz can be tricky to program given the opposite seasons and this is a key two-week frame where it’s expected to be close as the two films duke it out. Minions, like Inside Out, will stagger its release over the summer months in the rest of the world. It opens Stateside on July 10.
Each film has ambitions to be the big summer animation, and each has a good shot. Minions comes with built-in recognition given the popularity of the little yellow henchmen in both Despicable Me movies. Sandra Bullock plays the villain and last week strolled the yellow carpet in London’s Leicester Square for the Minions world premiere. The last DM movie narrowly missed making $1B worldwide with about $970M at the end of the run.
Inside Out, meanwhile, is original IP, at which Pixar excels and which, outside of Toy Story 3, has made for some of the animation studio’s biggest offshore hits including Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and Up (which also made its start in Cannes, in 2009).
The movie, whose first footage got European exhibitors excited at last June’s CineEurope event in Barcelona, takes place largely inside the head of a young girl. When her family moves to San Francisco — the American city, by the way, that most Europeans feel is the most like home — her emotions (Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness) run wild in conflict over how to best navigate the changes.
Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith and Bill Hader are among the lead voice cast. The talent has been touring with the film and a special live Q&A event in Australia last night was beamed around the world.
The slow-burn release, says Disney’s Dave Hollis, is about playing the competitive landscape and “spacing between us and Minions.” And spaced out it is: The UK doesn’t open until July 24, Italy is primed for September 16 and Germany, a major European box office market, releases October 1. That window had previously been used for Pixar movies and, says Hollis, “because of what the competitive suite looks like during summer, we thought it was better to own a piece of time that historically does not have competition. Any markets that open after the U.S. are the beneficiary of word of mouth.”
The tracking internationally makes it “feel like it’s not just a critical, but a commercial success,” says Hollis who nevertheless expects the scenery-chewing dinosaurs to dominate. Still, that Cannes bow contributed to very high awareness in France, where it opened this afternoon to the 5th best start of the year in the first Paris screenings, and where there are unanimous huzzahs from the press and public. Expect Minions to also make a splash when it lands in France on July 8; it was among the biggest markets for DM2 with over $40M. Co-helmer Pierre Coffin is French, and Illumination Mac Guff, headquartered in France, did much of the animation.
The move to position Inside Out out of Cannes, says Hollis, was “important for a variety of reasons. The ability to have the movie received by such an important audience gave a lot of confidence to the campaigns. The incentive from the critical and mainstream press which starts to then pick that up, acts as a foundation for a lot of more general marketing space.”
One key area where Inside Out is not yet set is China — same goes for Minions. Both will make it there, but the beginning of the unofficial “blackout” period is afoot, when screens are reserved for local films, and confirmed dates will come a bit later. Pixar’s Monsters University made about $34M in 2013, but with the landscape there having changed so much, it’s difficult to pinpoint how Inside Out will fare. Minions will look to capitalize on Despicable Me 2 which released there in January 2014 and, even though the original never made it to the Middle Kingdom, enlisted about $53M in box office.