Box Office: ‘Inside Out 2’ Aims to Reverse Pixar’s Woes With $85 Million Debut

“Inside Out 2” should evoke an emotion that Pixar hasn’t felt about the box office in years: Joy.

The follow-up film to 2015’s cerebral hit “Inside Out” is estimated to score a stellar $80 million to $90 million in its box office debut. If projections hold, it’ll overtake “Dune: Part Two” ($82.5 million) and “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” ($80 million) as the biggest opening of the year.

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As this weekend’s only new nationwide release, it’ll have no trouble taking the box office crown from the prior champion, “Bad Boys: Ride or Die.” The fourth installment in Sony’s buddy-cop comedy, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, launched over the weekend with $56.5 million and should add roughly $28 million in its sophomore outing.

“Inside Out 2” also looks to snap Pixar’s recent cold streak following last summer’s “Elemental” (which scored the worst start in Pixar’s modern history with $29.6 million) and 2022’s “Toy Story” spinoff “Lightyear” (which also stumbled with a $50.5 million opening). Although “Elemental” finished with $495 million globally, much stronger than its terrible debut would have suggested, it’s far less than past Pixar movies have earned. “Lightyear,” however, never rebounded and tapped out with $226 million against its $200 million production budget. And while 2020’s “Onward” was released just before theaters were entirely shut down due to COVID, the animated adventure ended its run with a dismal $114 million globally.

Pixar, the animation empire behind “Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” “Up” and “Wall-E,” has long been the gold standard of family films. And to be fair, the company’s misses are still bigger than most of its rivals’ wins. But it has struggled to rebound from the pandemic, when three consecutive movies, “Soul,” “Luca” and “Turning Red,” were sent directly to Disney+ to prop up the company’s new streaming service. In that time, family audiences became accustomed to expecting those movies at home. More recently, Pixar was hit with layoffs as approximately 175 employees, or 14% of its workforce, were let go as part of the company’s return to focus on theatrical feature films.

Exhibitors believe that the $200 million-budgeted “Inside Out 2” will have the humor and charm to recapture the success of its predecessor. “Inside Out” opened with $90.5 million domestically in 2015 and became a runaway success, ending its theatrical run with a mighty $356 million in North America and $858.8 million globally. The sequel also opens this weekend at the international box office. It’s expected to generate $50 million from 60% of its overseas footprint, a start that’s on par with the first film.

Directed by Kelsey Mann in his feature directorial debut, “Inside Out 2” revisits a young girl named Riley and the emotions in her head. As she goes through puberty, Riley discovers new feelings, including Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser) and Nostalgia (June Squibb), all of whom battle for control of Riley’s mind.

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