'Toy Story 4' Easily Tops the Box Office But Still Opens Below Expectations

It should come as no surprise that Toy Story 4 topped the box office this past weekend. However, what is surprising is that the acclaimed sequel from Pixar Animation opened significantly lower than the studio projections heading into the weekend.

In its opening weekend, Toy Story 4 raked in $118 million, which would be a strong opening for any movie. But Walt Disney Pictures saw the sequel making around $140 million or more heading into the weekend. The number is still enough to give it the best opening in the franchise (without adjusting for inflation), and the third largest opening weekend of the year. But could this be a sign of audience fatigue when it comes to sequels, reboots and remakes?

It’s not as if Toy Story 4 hasn’t been getting praise left and right. Along with an “A” CinemaScore from audiences, the film currently has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and a 95% score from audiences. Maybe people decided to stay away this weekend and wait for word of mouth to spread a little bit more before taking a chance on a sequel that many (including myself) thought was unnecessary after the phenomenal conclusion of Toy Story 3.

Of course, this shouldn’t be considered a failure for Disney by any means. Plus, with the exception of Spider-Man: Far From Home next week, Disney won’t have much competition on the family friendly side of programming until they have to contend with their own release of The Lion King on July 19. So there’s plenty of time for kids who are out of school for the summer to catch Toy Story 4. And the international numbers (via Box Office Mojo) added another $120 million for the sequel, so Pixar is doing just fine.

At the same time, the case for audience fatigue is still getting stronger. Following disappointing box office debuts for sequels and franchise revivals over the past month or so, the reboot of Child’s Play didn’t drum up much interest. It opened in the #2 spot with only $14 million. That’s a number that also came in under expectations since the studio was looking at an opening between $16-$18 million. But I guess that’s what happens when you have a “C+” CinemaScore from audiences, even if the critical score on Rotten Tomatoes wasn’t too bad at 61%.

Holding on to the third spot is Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin with $12.2 million added to its box office total. That’s not bad for its fifth week in theaters. That brings the domestic total to nearly $288 million, and with an international total of $522.6 million, the movie now has a huge global total of over $810 million. So what felt like it could be a staggering disappointment for Disney clearly still turned out to be quite the hit.

Meanwhile, things aren’t going to well for Men in Black International in only its second weekend of release. The franchise revival starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson dropped 64% in its second weekend, bringing in only $10.75 million. That gives the Sony Pictures release $52 million after 10 days, and considering what a huge hit the studio was hoping this movie would be, that’s not good. Even internationally the movie has been disappointing, with only $129 million in foreign markets. Thankfully, they have Spider-Man to help pick up the pieces next month.

In the last spot of the top five, we have The Secret Life of Pets 2 holding on with $10.3 million, almost beating out MiB for the #4 spot. The sequel isn’t raking in as much money as its predecessor, but it’s still a solid run so far for the Illumination Entertainment release from Universal. The animated sequel has made $117.5 million in total in the US, and thanks to the $77 million from international markets, the global total should have no problem clearing $200 million in the coming week.

There was one more new release this past weekend, but you probably didn’t hear much about it. Personally, I know I only saw the trailer in theaters twice in the months preceding it, and there was almost zero buzz about the film. We’re talking about Anna, the latest female-led action release from The Fifth Element director Luc Besson, which opened outside of the top ten with just $3.5 million. It doesn’t help that the movie didn’t really have any bankable stars and didn’t look remarkably different from Lucy. Plus, there are just too many other movies to see (both in theaters and at home) to take a chance on a movie like that.

Overall, the summer box office has been mostly disappointing. Toy Story 4 was poised to “save” the box office from some dismal weekends, but even that opened below expectations. Are we starting to see the decline of the summer blockbuster thanks to the plethora of other entertainment options from Peak TV and streaming services? Or are audiences simply sick of sequels, reboots and remakes? Only time will tell.

Head over to Box Office Mojo for the rest of the weekend chart.

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