When it comes to the recent avalanche of lackluster summer sequels, i.e. Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Dark Phoenix and Men in Black: International, one film finance source snarked to us recently, “I don’t think this current trend at the box office is ‘sequelitis.’ Perhaps with this latest string of misfires at the box office they’re just simply bad pictures. Make bad product and no one buys, make good product and they buy.”
Well, this weekend, there’s one sequel that’s apt to be considered ‘good’ and which moviegoers will ‘buy,’ and that’s Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4. The pic is already going bonkers on domestic tracking and is stamped with a 98% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
We hear the movie directed by Josh Cooley (who helmed such Pixar shorts such as the Inside Out one Riley’s First Date) could do around $160M in U.S./Canada, and, yes, enormously more (some believing $200M). Tack that on to the overseas $100M+ debut projection in 37 territories (64% of the pic’s foreign rollout), and we’re looking at a global blast off of $260M (maybe $300M if domestic overperforms, and Disney has certainly been able to beat their forecasts with Avengers: Endgame and Aladdin this season) — a brand new record for an animation pic’s worldwide opening weekend set to beat Incredibles 2‘s WW debut of $235.8M ($182.6M of that came from domestic).
With everyone holding their dollars back over the last two weekends at the B.O., they’re ready to blow their cash now. As typical with these animation sequels, Disney has a gravitational pull on folks from three to 80-years-old. These Pixar sequels of late play deeply to generations, and feasibly find news fans. By comparison, and note animated films are often rolled out slowly overseas, Toy Story 3 opened to $145.3M (unadjusted) and 76% of that was boosted by domestic’s first weekend. Right now on domestic tracking we hear Toy Story 4 is ahead of Finding Dory ($135M) but below the record opener of all-time, Incredibles 2 ($182.6M).
Toy Story 3 ultimately made over $1B worldwide and sources see the same eventuality on the latest installment (39% of TS3 was from Stateside ticket sales $415M).
Disney begins rolling out Toy Story 4 on Thursday in Australia, Brazil, Korea, Russia as well as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Lebanon, Malaysia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Slovenia, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad, Turkey, Ukraine and Uruguay. Friday’s markets include China, Mexico, Spain, UK as well as Ecuador, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Italy and France come a week later, while Japan goes July 12 and Germany August 15 as some other smaller markets trickle in along the same timeline.
China is only expected to bring $15M-$20M as the film series doesn’t have a huge track record there (social scores are not yet out). Pixar movies in China outside Coco have been slower to gain traction versus Disney’s other brands. There is also competition in that market from Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning 2001 film Spirited Away which is just getting its first theatrical release in the Middle Kingdom.
Here in the U.S., Toy Story 4 opens its chest on Thursday night with select fan events at 5PM at 22 theaters which will run four-film marathons from the franchise, with full nationwide previews starting at 6PM. By Friday, Toy Story 4 will count over 4,500 theaters in U.S./Canada (one of the top four wide openers of all-time after Endgame‘s 4,662; The Secret Life of Pets‘s 4,561; and Despicable Me’s 4,529 theaters. Of Toy Story 4‘s theater count, 400 are Imax, 750 premium large format venues, 2,900 are 3D, and 240 are D-box/4D screens. Worldwide, TS4 will be on 1,300+ IMAX screens.
The Toy Story series trends big in both Japan and the UK with the last one clearing well above $100M at final in each country. More recent overseas comparisons include Incredibles 2, likewise a fresh entry many years following the previous title. That sequel in like-for-like markets and at today’s rates opened last summer to $115M. Its top overseas homes were the UK, China, Japan, France and Brazil. The overseas total cume was $634M unadjusted. Finding Dory in summer 2016 opened to $90M abroad in like-for-like markets and at today’s exchanges. The $1B+ global grosser did $542M unadjusted overseas at final led by Japan, the UK, China, Australia and Germany.
Toy Story talent and filmmakers’ offshore travel included Hanks attending the London premiere on June 16, and appearing on The Graham Norton Show. Also in the UK, he blew the official whistle to kick off Soccer Aid for Unicef, a global charity match raising money for children in Sierra Leone and Zambia. Cooley and Jonas Rivera went to Mexico and to the Annecy Animation Festival, while Tony Hale did press and a premiere in Toronto.
Overseas promotions included the iconic “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” being localized in Italian and Mandarin. In Japan, Yukai Diamond, who had sung the song since the first Toy Story, re-recorded it for this one. There were also over 100 international promotional partners across 70 different countries.
Domestically, also opening is Orion/United Artists Releasing’s re-imagination of the late ’80s series Child’s Play at 3,007 theaters. The film, we understand, is comping closely to Universal/Blumhouse’s Ma and could earn $16M-$18M. Sweet spot for this pic are multi-cultural moviegoers and the under 25 set. Some think it could go lower. Pic stars Aubrey Plaza, Gabriel Bateman, Brian Tyree Henry, and Mark Hamill as the voice of Chucky. Polaroid‘s Lars Klevberg directs from a screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith and produced by Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg of KatzSmith Productions.
Lionsgate has the Luc Besson-directed EuropaCorp movie Anna which isn’t expected to do much in the low single digits. The pic stars Russian supermodel Sasha Luss in a La Femme Nikita like story about a beautiful woman who becomes a government assassin. Thursday previews for both Child’s Play and Anna start at 7PM. Pic was made reportedly for $30M.