So when Toy Story 4 debuted with ‘only’ $120.9 million at the US box office this past weekend (down on tracking estimates of $140m-$165m), it prompted talk of an “underwhelming” opening and countless mentions of franchise fatigue.
And, sure, it can’t be avoided that it did open below the level that the tracking suggested, but that estimate was only recently boosted after strong reviews. There is still a degree of skepticism over whether we needed a fourth Toy Story movie and that would have affected the opening weekend’s take.
But it’s still the highest opening of the series to date, the fourth biggest animation opening of all time and only the third 2019 release to open above $100m (Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame are the other two). So stick that in your misery-pipe and smoke it, doomsayers.
Even when taking inflation into account, Toy Story 4 still ranks just below Toy Story 3‘s adjusted $126 million debut. The third movie went on to take $415m (unadjusted) at the US box office, a target that is possible for the fourth movie to match.
It’s not just about the US anymore either. Increasingly, blockbusters are getting a bigger share of their box office from overseas markets, and Toy Story 4 is off to an excellent start internationally.
With $123.6 million from 37 markets, including record-breaking openings in the likes of the UK, Mexico and Argentina, Toy Story 4 is well set for the upcoming summer holidays and its future openings in major markets such as France and Italy.
Overall, Toy Story 4 recorded the biggest-ever global launch for an animation with $244.5m, topping Incredibles 2‘s $235.8m debut last year. Not too shabby.
With the strong critical acclaim and word-of-mouth, the movie should be set for a long run at the box office too.
“The trouble is, if a movie doesn’t hit some assigned number, it is suddenly perceived as an underperformer. The expectations were overblown. In a vacuum, Toy Story 4 had a spectacular weekend,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, told The Hollywood Reporter.
“Toy Story 4 is the fourth instalment. It gets tougher to get audiences enthused. It’s impressive that they’ve been able to maintain this level of interest and reviews.”
It’s often too easy to jump to a headline-friendly instant judgement on a movie where you need to make a definitive statement to stand out.
Sometimes, when it’s a movie that hasn’t been well-received, a snap judgement is fine as it’s unlikely to bounce back from a low opening. But with Toy Story 4, the US opening is only part of the story and, barring a surprise collapse, it will have a lengthy box-office run in both the US and internationally.
But to call it a disappointment already is jumping to conclusions. The toys are back in town – and they’re likely to stick around.
Toy Story 4 is in cinemas now.