Woody and Buzz Lightyear are back with a new mission: reinvigorating a summer box office in a bit of a slump.
Walt Disney Co’s latest ‘Toy Story’ sequel is expected to generate $150 million (Dh550.88 million) at US and Canadian theaters this weekend, marking the second-biggest debut for an animated film. It represents a much-needed boost for the industry, which has suffered a string of underwhelming sequels in recent weeks. That’s included the X-Men bomb ‘Dark Phoenix’ and the disappointing ‘Godzilla’ and ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’.
Audiences aren’t tired of sequels, just poorly made ones, said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro. ‘Toy Story 4’, in contrast, has been almost universally praised by critics and - after nearly a quarter-century - the franchise has generations of fans.
“It is hard to call it anything but a breath of fresh air,” Robbins said.
For Disney’s Pixar, ‘Toy Story’ is its most bankable theatrical franchise. The studio has had less luck with other outings in recent years: ‘Cars 3’ sputtered in 2017, and ‘The Good Dinosaur’ flopped in 2015.
Disney hasn’t been immune to sequel fatigue this summer. It acquired ‘Dark Phoenix’ in its $71 billion megadeal with 21st Century Fox earlier this year and failed to turn the movie into a hit. But overall, it will continue dominating the box office.
While fans enjoy ‘Toy Story 4’, they will likely be already thinking about Disney’s ‘Lion King’ remake next month. And the company is expected rerelease ‘Avengers: Endgame’ with additional footage, giving the blockbuster a chance to dethrone ‘Avatar’ as the highest-grossing film of all time.
Disney’s supremacy has put other studios in a quandary. Most filmgoers aren’t going to the movies every weekend, and non-Disney movies are getting overlooked, Robbins said.
“Audiences are waiting for the next big Disney release,” he said.