Animation Reigns as ‘Despicable Me 4’ and ‘Inside Out 2’ Combined Dominate Business

Would theaters even be operating if not for animated films? It’s a fair question, heavily reinforced by this weekend when “Despicable Me 4” (Universal) and “Inside Out 2” (Disney) combined to gross $105 million.

So far in 2024, animated features have grossed a little under $1 billion, more than 25 percent of the total gross. Take that amount away, it’s hard to imagine most theaters staying afloat. That’s a big increase from 2023, when similar releases made up around 18 percent.

More from IndieWire

The sixth entry in the “Despicable Me/Minions” franchise grossed about $75 million for the three day weekend, $122.6 million total for five days to take #1 with ease. “Inside Out 2” took second with $30 million, down only 48 percent despite strong new competition. That comes to more than two thirds of the $157 million total.

With “A Quiet Place: Day One” (Paramount) taking in $21 million for third place in its second weekend, three films grossed over $20 million for the first time since July last year. That once was not uncommon — five times in summer 2019, four times last year, including once with four over that gross.

Here’s another statistic buried in the numbers that represents both positive and scary news for the movie industry. 90 percent of the gross this weekend came from sequels or other ongoing franchise titles, more if one adds in Kevin Costner’s “Horizon,” part one of at least two planned films.

It’s essential for theaters to have these to reach the still shortfall level they’re at. But the lack of fresh product standing on its own or launching new franchises remains a real issue. “Horizon” is going to fall short of $40 million despite prime positioning and advance hopes (at least until it screened at Cannes). Even the bigger grossing originals (“IF”/Paramount at $110 million, “The Fall Guy”/Universal with $92 million recently) despite high expectations have at best been adequate. It’s hard to avoid the reality that audiences have become extremely conservative.

MAXXXINE, from left: Mia Goth, Halsey, 2024. © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection
‘MaXXXine’Courtesy Everett Collection

Two other new releases in the Top 10 reinforce the sense that it’s a challenge to rouse interest. Ti West’s “MaXXXine” (A24), the third in the “X” slasher trilogy, with decent reviews and holiday playtime (and the A24 brand) managed only $6.7 million for #4 with its Friday opening. The first two entries were made reportedly for around $1 million, with this likely a bit more. But the guess was it would get to around $9 million.

More disappointing is Angel’s “Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot.” Released on the first anniversary of their sleeper “Sound of Freedom” and sharing its theme of child rescue, it grossed $3.1 for the weekend (#7), with $6.8 million total for four days. Similar to most faith-based audience films, it got a sky-high A+ Cinemascore, but interest otherwise seems minimal. Again, a lower budget ($8 million) and less expensive grassroots and online marketing lessen expense.

“Despicable Me 4” is in line with earlier franchise openings, which have become an Independence Day weekend tradition. It’s trickier to compare results because of the moveable placement of the 4th, but this initial gross looks to be exactly within expectations. That’s even more impressive with it competing with “Inside Out 2,” which had to take some business away from it.

After four weekends, Disney’s sequel film is at $534 million domestic. That’s $102 million shy of “Barbie,” 2023’s biggest hit. It will clearly have a run at reaching that level.

The second weekend 60 percent drop for “Day One” is similar to “A Quiet Place Part II,” and not unusual for horror genre films. It’s already at $94 million. #5 “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” (Sony) fell only 37 percent, with $177 million so far.

Any chance that word of mouth would save “Horizon” vanished with its 50 percent drop from its disappointing opening. It’s #6 with $5.5 million. Indian epic “Kalki 2898 AD” (Prathyangira) is #8, with an impressive $16 million total in more limited release.

The report on other more specialized titles, wider or more limited, remains mixed. “The Bikeriders” (Focus) leads at #9 with $19 million in (nearly what their Oscar-winning “The Holdovers” did), but down 61 percent in its third weekend. Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Kinds of Kindness” (Searchlight) almost doubled its theaters to 930 but fell 45 percent for tenth. At $3.8 million, it won’t be adding a lot more and will fall far short of both “The Favourite” and “Poor Things.”

THELMA, June Squibb, 2024. © Magnolia Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection
‘Thelma’©Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“Thelma” (Magnolia), a much lower-profile and expense release, continues to show strength. With 94-year-old June Squibb as the action hero, it added another $790,000 and is approaching $8 million in its third week.

Though it received acclaim as one of the best recent action titles, “Kill” (Roadside Attractions) from India managed only $550,000 in five days in 827 theaters.

Among limited openings, the revival of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” (Janus) at New York’s Film Forum, despite an over three-hour length and limited seating, managed $19,000. “Mother, Couch” (Film Movement) with Ewan McGregor and Ellen Burstyn managed $9,150 in a single New York theater.

The overall weekend rose 18 percent over last year. Year to date is now down an improved 17 percent from 2023. If that held for the full year, that would be under $7.6 billion.

The Top 10

1. Despicable Me 4 (Universal) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Metacritic: 50; Est. budget: $100 million

$74,980,000 in 4,428 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $16,933; Cumulative: $122,600,000

2. Inside Out 2 (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #1

$30,000,000 (-48%) in 3,760 (-680) theaters; PTA: $7,979; Cumulative: $533,824,000

3. A Quiet Place: Day One (Paramount) Week 2; Last weekend #2

$21,000,000 (-60%) in 3,688 (-20) theaters; PTA: $5,694; Cumulative: $94,356,000

4. MaXXXine (A24) NEW – Cinemascore: B; Metacritic: 65

$6,705,000 in 3,120 theaters; PTA: $2,737; Cumulative: $6,705,000

5. Bad Boys: Ride or Die (Sony) Week 5; Last weekend #4

$6,550,000 (-37%) in 2,644 (-688) theaters; PTA: $2,477; Cumulative: $177,359,000

6. Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 1 (Warner Bros.) Week 2; Last weekend #3

$5,480,000 (-50%) in 3,334 theaters (no change); PTA: $1,644; Cumulative: $22,192,000

7. Sound of Hope: The Story of Possum Trot (Angel) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Est. budget: $8 million

$3,140,000 in 2,200 theaters; PTA: $1,644; Cumulative: $6,811,000

8. Kalki 2898 AD (Prathyangira) Week 2; Last weekend #5

$1,793,068 (-68%) in 625 (-424) theaters; PTA: $1,939; Cumulative: $16,057,000

9. The Bikeriders (Focus) Week 3; Last weekend #6

$1,300,000 (-61%) in 1,562 (-1,130) theaters; PTA: $832; Cumulative: $19,336,000

10. Kinds of Kindness (Searchlight) Week 3; Last weekend #10

$860,000 (-45%) in 920 (+430) theaters; PTA: $935; Cumulative: $3,833,000

Other specialized/independent titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed. Metacritic scores and initial film festivals recorded when available.

Kill (Roadside Attractions) NEW – Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Toronto 2023, Tribeca 2023

$384,490 in theaters; PTA: $465; Cumulative: $550,128

Mother, Couch (Film Movement) NEW – Metacritic: 48; Festivals include: Toronto 2023

$9,150 in 1 theater; PTA: $9,150

Seven Samurai (Janus) REISSUE

$19,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $19,000

Jatt & Juliet 3 (White Hill) Week 2

$in 135 (-8) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $

Blue Lock The Movie — Episode Nagi (Sony)

$175,000 in 857 (no change) theaters; PTA: $204; Cumulative: $16,500,000

Daddio (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2

$90,105 in 402 (-226) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $770,731

Last Summer (Janus/Sideshow) Week 2

$19,500 in 7 (+4) theaters; PTA: $2,786; Cumulative: $66,096

Thelma (Magnolia) Week 3

$790,000 in 620 (-600) theaters; Cumulative: $6,849,000

Janet Planet (A24) Week 3

$91,847 in 90 (-225) theaters; Cumulative: $505,018

Ghostlight (IFC) Week 4

$37,559 in 44 (-75) theaters; Cumulative: $587,559

Robot Dreams (Neon) Week 6

$30,800 in 38 (-18) theaters; Cumulative: $631,637

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.