Some in the industry have been quietly saying that animation studio Pixar is on its way out, but “Incredibles 2” blazing box office performance has silenced those naysayers. Most studios overpredict what their upcoming film will bring in at the box office, but understating it by 30 percent is unheard of. With the forced departure of Pixar’s creative chief John Lasseter earlier in June, the company has been given a huge shot in the arm.
Normally when movie studios tout sales recorded, they don’t mean as much as inflation isn’t usually factored in. Not the case this time as taking into account for higher ticket prices, “Incredibles 2” has bested the previous record holder “Shrek the Third” (DreamWorks Animation) which has pulled in $151 million (adjusted) in 2007 according to comScore data.
The combined powers of superheroes, the Pixar brand and a draught of family-friendly films helped “Incredibles 2” become the best animated opening of all time, the biggest PG-rated launch ever and the 8th highest film launch overall.
Disney estimated Sunday that the film earned $180 million in its first weekend in North American theaters — far surpassing industry analysts’ loftiest expectations which had the film pegged for a $120 to $140 million debut.
The previous animation record-holder was another Pixar sequel, “Finding Dory,” which had a $135 million launch in 2016. It was Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast” that held the record for a PG debut with $174.8 million in 2017.
“You don’t get to this level of opening without appealing to everyone whether you’re a fan of animation, superheroes or just out to have a good time and want to see a good movie,” said Cathleen Taff, the head of distribution for Walt Disney Studios. “We had a film that had something for all ages.”
According to Disney, adults made up 31 percent of the audience, families accounted for 57 percent and teens 11 percent. It received an A-plus grade from movie audiences polled by CinemaScore.
“The ‘Avengers’ crowd went to see this movie — it wasn’t just 7-year-old kids,” Greg Foster, the filmed entertainment chief of Imax, the large-format theater chain, said by telephone on Sunday morning. Mr. Foster said that “Incredibles 2” sold about $14.1 million in tickets at Imax theaters in the United States and Canada over the weekend, setting an all-time Imax animation record.
Mr. Foster credited the movie’s writer-director, Brad Bird, for delivering a sequel that received a rapturous response from critics and positive word of mouth on social media. Mr. Foster also noted that the “Incredibles” characters are now favorites for multiple generations: People who saw the original film as children are now parents.
“Incredibles 2” comes 14 years after “The Incredibles,” which at the time boasted one of the biggest animated openings ever, and picks up right where the first film left off with the superhero family. Brad Bird returned to write and direct the sequel, which has been overwhelmingly well-received by both critics and audiences.
“This is one of the biggest over-performances I’ve ever seen,” said comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “To over-perform by $40 million means everyone underestimated the power of animation to draw huge audiences.”
“Incredibles 2” is also the second biggest ever June debut, behind only “Jurassic World” ($208.8 million), which has its own sequel preparing to take a bite out of the box office when its opens in North America next weekend.
It knocked “Ocean’s 8” to a distant second in its second weekend in theaters with $19.6 million. “Ocean’s 8″ still managed to outdo the non-“Incredibles” newcomers, like the R-rated comedy “Tag,” also a Warner Bros. release, which opened in third place with $14.6 million.
Sony’s “Superfly” remake landed in seventh place in its first weekend with $6.3 million, and Vertical Entertainment’s “Gotti,” starring John Travolta, opened outside of the top 10. Playing in 503 locations, the long-delayed film which boasts a 0 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, took in $1.7 million.
After a slow early June, the box office overall is now running around 6 percent ahead of where it was last year and will likely continue that growth next weekend when “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” launches stateside.
Disney needed “Incredibles 2” to succeed. Although it has dominated the box office in recent years, Disney suffered a major setback last month, when its expensive “Solo: A Star Wars Story” crashed and burned. After four weeks of release, “Solo” has taken in about $193 million — not chump change, but the equivalent of a bomb by “Star Wars” standards.
Then Disney announced on June 8 that Mr. Lasseter would not return from a “sabbatical” that started in October, when he stepped down citing unspecified “missteps” that made some staffers feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.” Mr. Lasseter co-founded Pixar and has been the creative force behind the billion-dollar “Toy Story,” “Cars” and “Frozen” franchises.
“Incredibles 2” had little competition at the domestic box office over the weekend. (It collected a promising $51.5 million in limited release overseas, according to comScore.) Second place went to “Ocean’s 8” (Warner), which collected about $20 million, for a two-week total in North America of $79.2 million. Warner also had the third-place film, “Tag,” which arrived to $14.6 million in estimated ticket sales.
An R-rated comedy with an ensemble cast, “Tag” cost about $28 million to make and at least $30 million to market. Warner hopes the film will perform like “Game Night,” which arrived to a muted $17 million in February but quietly generated nearly $70 million over its run. Like that movie, “Tag” received a B-plus CinemaScore.
Also of box-office note: Another superhero, at least to octogenarians and the political left, has breathed life into the documentary marketplace: “RBG,” a Participant Media and Magnolia Pictures film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, crossed the $10 million mark, one of the best results for a film of its kind in years. Participant supported “RBG” with an aggressive effort to tie the film about the Supreme Court justice to social issues including gender parity, ultimately engaging more than 400 organizations.
“RBG” is the first of two films about Justice Ginsburg that Participant has planned for this year. The second, a biographical drama called “On the Basis of Sex,” will arrive via Focus Features in November. It stars Felicity Jones.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
- “Incredibles 2,” $180 million ($51.5 million international).
2. “Ocean’s 8,” $19.6 million ($19.3 million international).
3. “Tag,” $14.6 million ($1.4 million international).
4. “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” $9.1 million ($5.2 million international).
5. “Deadpool 2,” $8.8 million ($9.8 million international).
6. “Hereditary,” $7 million ($5.7 million international).
7. “Superfly,” $6.3 million.
8. “Avengers: Infinity War,” $5.3 million ($3.1 million international).
9. “Adrift,” $2.1 million ($453,000 international).
10. “Book Club,” $1.9 million ($730,000 international).
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:
- “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” $173.6 million.
- “Incredibles 2,” $51.5 million.
- “Ocean’s 8,” $19.3 million.
- “A Strong Insect Crossing the River,” $9.9 million.
- “Deadpool 2,” $9.8 million.
- “The Accidental Detective 2,” $6 million.
- “Hereditary,” $5.7 million.
- “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” $5.2 million.
- “Race 3,” $4.8 million.
- “Avengers: Infinity War,” $3.1 million.