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Emotional win for theaters: ‘Inside Out 2’ scores massive $155M opening

LOS ANGELES — Hollywood’s summer movie anxieties gave way to joy this weekend with the massive debut of Disney/Pixar’s “Inside Out 2.” The animated sequel earned $155 million in ticket sales from 4,440 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Not only is it the second-highest opening weekend in Pixar’s 29 years of making films and the second-biggest animated opening ever (behind only the $182.7 million launch of “Incredibles 2” in 2018). It’s also the biggest of 2024, and the biggest since “Barbie.” With an estimated $140 million from international showings, “Inside Out 2” had a staggering, and record-breaking, $295 million global start.

Tony Chambers, who heads theatrical distribution for Disney, was confident that the film would do “extremely well.” But even he was surprised at how much it exceeded already high expectations.

“People go to the theaters for great movies,” Chambers said. “The reviews, the word of mouth just helped build this momentum … It’s becoming a bit of a phenomenon.”

Importantly, “Inside Out 2” audiences spanned ages and all demographics. Post-COVID, he said, breakout successes depend on attracting multicultural audiences.

The success is significant for Pixar, marking a much-needed return to form for a studio that has had a string of underwhelming launches including “Elemental,” which did eventually become a success, and “Lightyear,” which didn’t. It’s also vitally important for the greater Hollywood ecosystem and the health of theatrical exhibition, which had been running at a 26% deficit.

“Everybody needed this because success begets success,” said Chambers, who has been getting excited calls from exhibitors and fellow studios alike. “It’s great for the industry, great for Pixar and great for the business overall.”

Disney was already having a good summer, with “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” which this weekend was in third place in its sixth weekend with $5.2 million (bringing its global total to $374.5 million). And next up is “Deadpool & Wolverine” (July 26).

Kelsey Mann directed “Inside Out 2,” which picks up with Riley as she turns 13. That means the arrival of new emotions like Anxiety (Maya Hawke) and Envy (Ayo Edebiri) to Joy’s (Amy Poehler) party. It got glowing reviews from critics (92% on Rotten Tomatoes) and polled audiences who gave it an A CinemaScore, suggesting that this won’t be a first-weekend wonder. With kids out of school and an open market until “Despicable Me 4” enters the ring over the Fourth of July, “Inside Out 2” is just getting started.

“Inside Out 2” is estimated to have cost around $200 million to produce, which does not account for the millions spent on marketing. Going into the weekend, it was tracking for a debut in the $90 million range, which would have been in line with the first weekend of “Inside Out” in June 2019. Even that would have been considered a terrific achievement, and enough to claim the biggest opening of the year — finally unseating March releases like “Dune: Part Two” and “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.”

This image shows, from left, Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, background left, Anger, voiced by Lewis Black, Disgust, voiced by Liza Lapira, Envy, voiced by Ayo Edebiri, and Anxiety, voiced by Maya Hawke, in a scene from "Inside Out 2."
This image shows, from left, Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, background left, Anger, voiced by Lewis Black, Disgust, voiced by Liza Lapira, Envy, voiced by Ayo Edebiri, and Anxiety, voiced by Maya Hawke, in a scene from “Inside Out 2.” (Photo: Disney/Pixar)

This recommitment to theatrical comes after Disney sent several Pixar films straight to its streaming service, Disney+, over the pandemic including “Soul,” “Luca” and “Turning Red.” Last month, the New York Times reported that Pixar had decided to return its focus to feature films (and not producing shows for Disney+) and that it had laid off 14% of its workforce (about 175 employees).

“As important as this weekend is for the industry at large, for Pixar this is huge. They’ve been trying to get their groove back since the pandemic,” Dergarabedian said. “They’ve really come back big.”

On the ground, theater owners saw their cineplexes come to life this weekend.

“It has been magical,” said Jeff Whipple, a vice president for Megaplex Theaters. “We have seen literally generations of families brought together for this movie.”

Megaplex Theaters operates 15 locations and 173 screens in Utah and Southern Nevada. And the energy was palpable, Whipple said. Not only have families been hanging around after the showtimes to discuss the film; They’ve also been scoping out what’s coming next with kids taking pictures of the “Despicable Me 4” posters and displays and dads taking note of the “Deadpool & Wolverine” date.

“I think word is going to spread on this film and help draw people into theaters throughout the summer,” Whipple said.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

  1. “Inside Out 2,” $155 million.
  2. “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” $33 million.
  3. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,” $5.2 million.
  4. “The Garfield Movie,” $5 million.
  5. “The Watchers,” $3.7 million.
  6. “IF,” $3.5 million.
  7. “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” $2.4 million.
  8. “The Fall Guy,” $1.5 million.
  9. “The Strangers: Chapter 1,” $760,000.
  10. “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” $632,910.

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