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Box Office: ‘Inside Out 2’ Heading for Historic $140M-$150M U.S. Opening, a Near-Record for Pixar

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Where to begin in describing the emotions Hollywood and theater owners  — not to mention Pixar and its parent company Disney — are likely feeling over the stunning start of Inside Out 2 at the box office. (Hint: Sadness isn’t one of them.)

Pixar’s tentpole earned a massive $62 million on Friday, well ahead of expectations and putting the movie on course to open in the $140 million to $150 million range domestically over Father’s Day weekend, one of the top three starts ever for an animated film and the second-best for Pixar. Rival studios believe it could climb as high as $155 million to $160 million, but Disney is being more circumspect. Friday’s haul includes a huge $13 million in Thursday previews.

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Fellow Pixar sequel Incredibles 2 is the crown-holder for top animated domestic opening ($182.7 million), followed by Illumination and Universal’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie ($146.4 million), Pixar’s Finding Dory ($135.1 million) and Walt Disney Animation’s Frozen II ($130.3 million). The only question now is whether Inside Out 2 can pass up Super Mario Bros.

Inside Out 2 is just what the doctor ordered for Pixar, which has endured several years of strife, including when the former Disney regime decided to send a trio of Pixar films straight to streaming.

The news is just as good overseas, where the sequel has earned $48.8 million through Friday from 38 markets (it began rolling out in its first batch of countries on Wednesday). It is only opening in 60 percent of the marketplace this weekend, so comparisons will be tough, although it is pacing more than 200 percent ahead of Inside Out and is showing strength across Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Heading into the weekend, the $200 million sequel was tracking for a North American debut in the $90 million range, in line with the first film, which went on to earn nearly $860 million globally. Instead, Inside Out 2 will be the first movie since Barbie almost a year ago to cross $100 million in its launch, a symbol of just how beleaguered the box office has been so far in 2024 due to strike-related delays and a precipitous downturn in moviegoing. (Barbie opened to $162 million domestically.)

Inside Out 2 earned glowing reviews and is presently among the five best-rated Pixar films on Rotten Tomatoes with a critics score of 93 percent. It earned an A CinemaScore, while the Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 96 percent is a Pixar-best.

Directed by Kelsey Mann, the sequel introduces a whole new cast of emotions who are brought into “head”-quarters when the story’s young heroine, Riley, becomes a teenager. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust aren’t so sure how to feel about the arrival of Anxiety, Envy, Ennui and Embarrassment. Amy Poehler leads the voice cast that also includes Maya Hawke, Kensington Tallman, Liza Lapira, Tony Hale, Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, Ayo Edebiri, Lilimar, Grace Lu, Sumayyah Nuriddin-Green, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Paul Walter Hauser and Yvette Nicole Brown.

Inside Out 2 started its box office run with a joyful $13 million in Thursday evening previews, well ahead of expectations. Traffic was so strong on Friday that it became clear that the film would open to at least $130 million to $140 million domestically. By late evening, rival studios were throwing out estimates of $140 million to $150 million, but Disney and Pixar continue to take a safer approach in sticking to a prediction of $140 million-plus.

Thanks to Inside Out 2 and Sony’s Bad Boys: Ride or Die, which is now in its second frame, overall domestic box office revenue will be up for the first time this year. Father’s Day weekend looks to come in 28 percent ahead of the same weekend in 2024 when DC’s The Flash and Pixar’s Elemental opened to disappointing numbers. (The Flash quickly fizzled, while Elemental was eventually able to find its stride.)

Bad Boys 4, reteaming Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, looks to fall a scant 44 percent in its second weekend to $31.5 million as it clears the $100 million mark domestically.

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