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Will Inside Out 2's box office success turn things around for Pixar?

Inside Out 2
Inside Out 2 Copyright Disney
Copyright Disney
By Jonny Walfisz
Published on
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After a disappointing start to 2024 for Hollywood, 'Inside Out 2' is a much needed success story.

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Inside Out 2 has broken box office records with the biggest global opening for an animated film ever.

The sequel to Pixar’s beloved 2015 film has made $295 million (€275 million) already since its wide release in US theatres on 14 June.

Just in North America alone, it made $154 million, higher than Dune: Part Two ’s previously set record for an opening weekend this year. In the US, it is also the second biggest opening weekend for an animated film, only behind Pixar’s 2018 film Incredibles 2.

The news of Inside Out 2’s barnstorming opening weekend will be warmly received by Hollywood insiders concerned that 2024 represented a downturn in profits following 2023’s bumper year.

While last year’s summer blockbuster season was held up by the Oppenheimer and Barbie dual release phenomenon, few films this year have been able to replicate their box office draw.

Hollywood has been held up during the summer season by a raft of releases in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since Iron Man ’s release in May 2008. Marvel only plans to release one film this year, Deadpool & Wolverine, which will be released in July, delayed three months by last year’s writers strikes.

Whether the R rated film will have the financial impact that previous entries into the cinematic universe is a cause of concern for film industry experts though.

Before that can happen, other films that were expected as the tentpole blockbusters of the year have fallen short of the mark.

The Fall Guy
The Fall GuyUniversal Pictures

The Fall Guy, featuring Barbie’s Ryan Gosling and Oppenheimer’s Emily Blunt was positioned as 2024’s bombastic action film that would ignite theatres in the US and abroad. It didn’t work out that way, and The Fall Guy has been decreed a box office bomb after generating $170.4 million globally since its release at the beginning of May, against its $150 million budget.

Reasons whyThe Fall Guy bombed are aplenty in hindsight. Gosling and Blunt aren’t anything like the box office drawing stars that Leonardo DiCaprio and Julia Roberts were 30 years ago. It wasn’t based on an established IP that people recognised like Barbie or a Marvel film. And finally, it looked a bit rubbish and barring impressive stunt work… it is.

Look beyond The Fall Guy and other box office disappointments abound. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga has to-date produced around $160 million, a figure just shy of its production budget.

It’s not been all bad news for Hollywood, as Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, and Dune: Part Two have all delivered, but experts are projecting the total box office for the year to still total around $8.2 billion, a 10% drop from last year’s takings.

For Inside Out 2 to surpass opening weekend expectations – it was forecast to take at most $100 million domestically – will be encouraging to industry insiders. It also could represent an upturn in fortunes for Pixar, the animation studios that has seemed beleaguered of late.

Although Pixar built its name on its genre-defining original films, after it was bought into the Disney megalith in 2006, the company has had to cater to the demands of its owners.

New characters
New charactersDisney

Known for their obsessive approach to story craft and dedicated in-house animation department, Pixar had its wings clipped recently after the pandemic interrupted their stream of hits. Ever since Soul was released directly to Disney+, Pixar hasn’t been able to convert their films into the major box office success of yore.

Last month, this resulted in Pixar laying off 14% of its workforce. Reflecting on their financial woes, Pete Docter, the chief creative officer for the company told Bloomberg that, “the studio’s movies should be less a pursuit of any director’s catharsis and instead speak to a commonality of experience”.

After years of pushing the animation genre forward with unique stories, Pixar seems relegated to churning out endless sequels and new versions of established IP. A once great studio has become like all the others populating Hollywood.

Inside Out 2 may be a sequel. But it’s an inventive sequel that builds upon the work of one of Pixar’s most gratifyingly brilliant original concepts. Hopefully the good news of its bountiful box office opening weekend will be enough to stir the fantasies of Pixar’s creatives once more.

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