You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Toy Story 4’: 5 Takeaways From Opening Weekend

Despite arriving below expectations, “Toy Story 4” did huge business this weekend with ticket sales surpassing $118 million in North America.

As sequels hailing from beloved franchises continue to flounder at the box office, Disney and Pixar’s cartooned fourquel is a much-needed win for the movie business. It now ranks among the top debuts for an animated movie, as well as only the third film this year (so far) to hit triple-digits its inaugural outing.

“Audiences are loving this movie,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior box office analyst at Comscore. “That should portend longterm playability for the film. [Pixar] can build on this perception of quality that should carry it forward quite nicely.”

Here are five takeaways from the opening weekend of “Toy Story 4.”

Disney domination

It’s a good time to be Disney, there’s no denying that. The Magic Kingdom is responsible for 30% of the marketshare, a figure that only stands to grow as the studio irons out its slate post merger with Fox. That number is nearly double its nearest competitors, Warner Bros. and Universal. Disney is now responsible for the four biggest debuts of 2019: “Avengers: Endgame” ($357 million), “Captain Marvel” ($157 million) and “Aladdin” ($91 million). And while ticket sales for the industry continue to pace well behind 2018’s record year, Hollywood is banking on Disney to dig the film business out of that hole. The coming weeks look even more promising with Jon Favreau’s remake of “The Lion King,” “Frozen 2” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” on deck. All other studios, take note.

The Magic Kingdom’s worst enemy is itself

Being Disney comes with its own gripes. That was evident this weekend as “Toy Story 4” prompted headlines about an underwhelming start, despite crossing the $100 million mark — a benchmark any other studio would be thrilled to report. But Disney’s consistent track record means its films are held to a higher standard.

“When you’re at the top of your game, that’s the blessing and the curse,” Dergarabedian said. “Everything you do is under a brighter spotlight.”

Nobody is immune to a little franchise fatigue

It’s hard to consider a triple-digit debut a disappointment on any level, but it’s undeniable that “Toy Story 4” did perform below expectations. The fourth chapter in the children’s franchise brought in a series-best opening, but it’s just $8 million more than the debut of “Toy Story 3,” which racked up $110 million when it launched in 2010. It’s always the hope that a follow-up will gross more than its predecessors, signaling that appetite has grown over the years. But in the decade since the adventures of Woody and Buzz Lightyear last graced the big screen, the small jump in ticket sales indicates that audiences didn’t necessarily believe there was a compelling need for another “Toy Story.”

Box office tracking is an inexact science

It’s hardly a novel notion, the idea that estimating a film’s box office performance weeks ahead of its opening isn’t always spot-on, but this year has proved more than ever how off-kilter tracking can be. Whether a movie bows significantly ahead or behind estimates, early projections, which first appear on tracking boards three weeks ahead of a film’s debut, tend to dictate opening weekend perceptions. Sometimes it’s for the better, as was the case with Jordan Peele’s “Us.” The filmmaker’s highly anticipated follow-up feature film debuted with $71 million, nearly triple initial tracking that expected a start near $30 million. But in most instances, such as Universal’s “Glass” and Disney’s “Dumbo,” arriving well below expectations dominates headlines.

Pixar Animation Reigns Supreme

Few animation studios are operating at the level of Pixar. It’s rare that the fourth entry in a film franchise still generates positive sentiments. And though moviegoers might have been skeptical about the necessity for another “Toy Story,” critics hailed the movie as a worthy addition to Pixar’s cannon of family-friendly films. That kind of feedback is a testament to the powers that be at Disney’s animation studio, who have developed a track record of creating stories worth telling. Tony Hale, who voices as Forky, a nutty spork facing an existential crisis about what it means to be a toy, told Variety that reason is partially why he wanted to join “Toy Story 4.” “Having been a part of the process and seeing the story they wanted to tell, and also knowing Pixar doesn’t do things unless there’s a story to be told, I just had faith in their whole process,” Hale said.

More Film

  • Aaron Janus Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Hires 'A Quiet Place' Producer Aaron Janus as Senior VP of Production

    Lionsgate has hired Aaron Janus as its new senior vice president of production and promoted Meredith Wieck to the post of vice president of production.  Prior to Lionsgate, Janus served as Platinum Dunes’ head of development, where he oversaw filmmakers Brad Fuller, Andrew Form and Michael Bane. There, he brought in “A Quiet Place,” on [...]

  • Ang Lee Reveals First Look at

    Ang Lee on 'Gemini Man' and De-Aging Will Smith

    On paper, Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” is a standard-issue, shoot ’em up with Will Smith playing a deadly assassin who must battle a younger clone of himself. The explosions and gun battles aren’t what drew Lee to the project, even if they’re the reason that most people will show up at theaters when it opens [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Sean Clarke Aardman Staff Photography Bristol.Pic

    Aardman Appoints Sean Clarke as New Managing Director

    Aardman, the Oscar-winning animation studio behind “Chicken Run” and “Early Man,” has appointed Sean Clarke as its new managing director, replacing co-founder David Sproxton, who is stepping down after 43 years. Clarke has worked at the British studio for more than 20 years, including heading the international rights and marketing department for over a decade. [...]

  • The Antenna

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Antenna'

    Jump scares, creepy noises and the tease of hidden-from-view dangers are all fine. But a truly frightening horror film unsettles with more than its crafts, but instead through the vulnerability of defenseless people stuck with bad options only. First-time writer-director Orçun Behram’s highly stylized and mildly disturbing “The Antenna,” a metaphor on Turkey’s current ruling [...]

  • Ad Astra Box Office

    Box Office Battle: 'Ad Astra' Takes on 'Rambo: Last Blood' and 'Downton Abbey'

    “Hustlers” and “Good Boys” proved that even in the age of Marvel dominance and remake mania, movies that don’t exist within an established franchise can still be box office draws. Can “Ad Astra” continue that trend? The space drama — starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray — arrives on the big screen this [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks

    Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks Silence After D.A. Dropped Charge

    Lucia Evans gave a wrenching account on Tuesday of her efforts to hold Harvey Weinstein responsible for sexual assault, saying she felt betrayed after the Manhattan D.A.’s office dropped her allegations last year. Evans spoke to Variety after giving a speech at a conference on influencer fraud in Manhattan, making her first public comments on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content