This weekend, the anticipated fourth installment in Pixar’s crown jewel franchise, a franchise we once thought was over, arrives in the form of Toy Story 4. The film is expected to be the movie to break the box office out of its recent sequelitis malaise, and if its opening night performance is any indication (it is), it will do just that. Toy Story 4 had an absolutely incredible preview night, the best for any animated movie, save one.
Toy Story 4 opened in theaters on Thursday night for early evening fan events, followed by preview screenings, taking in $12 million all told. That’s an incredible achievement, giving Toy Story 4 the second best preview night performance for any animated movie. The distinction of first place goes to last year’s Incredibles 2, which took in a heroic $18.5 million in previews in advance of a $182.6 million opening weekend, the best all-time for an animated flick, as noted by Deadline.
After its $12 million Thursday night, Toy Story 4 expands out to a whopping 4,575 theaters today, making it the second-widest domestic release ever ,after Avengers: Endgame’s 4,662. That sets Toy Story 4 up to have a massive opening weekend, so after its $12 million head start in previews, how high can it go?
The long-range tracking from a few months ago had the flick at around $130 million opening weekend, but the tracking earlier this week bumped that up to the $160 million range. That looks to be where Toy Story 4 is headed. The expectation is that the film from director Josh Cooley gets to about $55 million Friday and a $150-$160+ million weekend.
That would be a huge opening weekend, but would still have Woody and Co. coming in second to the Parr family in Incredibles 2. However, if the film overperforms, perhaps it could go higher than expected. Anecdotally, it seems to me that lots of tracking this year has been either way under or way over where the final total lands once all the money has actually been counted.
Toy Story 4 won’t have the potential Father’s Day weekend boost that Incredibles 2 or 2016’s Finding Dory (which opened to $135 million) enjoyed, but it still has a lot going for it. The pre-sales have been great and the reviews have been stellar with near-unanimous praise and an excellent Rotten Tomatoes score for the Pixar sequel.
The other thing that could contribute to a great box office for this fourthquel (making that a thing) is the fact the past few weeks have seen one box office disappointment after another. Audiences may have been unmoved to part with their money for Dark Phoenix, The Secret Life of Pets 2 or Men in Black: International, but maybe that has them itching to finally go to the movies.
On the competition front, the hit-and-miss strategy of counterprogramming looks like it could work for Child’s Play. The reboot starring Mark Hamill, Aubrey Plaza and Brian Tyree Henry nabbed $1.65 million on Thursday night and should go on to make $16-$18 million this weekend. Also opening is Luc Besson’s Anna, which took in $325,000 Thursday night and is expected to end the weekend in the low-to-mid single digits.