‘Inside Out 2’: After a Week, It’s Just Shy of ‘Barbie’ and Ahead of ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’

Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” (Disney) grossed $254 million in its first seven days in U.S. and Canadian theaters. By as early as Saturday, it will best “Dune: Part Two” (Warner Bros.) as 2024’s biggest success, and by Sunday, the film should reach at least $315 million.

The surprisingly strong animated sequel (top industry projections gave it a shot at $300 million) now looks certain to gross at least $500 million for its run. That would make it the sixth to do so since theaters reopened (after “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Barbie,” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”).

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Buttressed by summer vacation and the mid-week Juneteenth holiday, the seven-day total is $14 million better than “Super Mario Bros.,” and stunningly only $4 million below “Barbie.” But at this point, odds are against “Inside Out 2” equaling “Mario” ($574 million), much less reaching “Barbie” ($636 million). But to be even talking about getting close is an incredible accomplishment for Disney’s Pixar unit, which since Covid struck, has not managed a domestic gross over $155 million (“Elemental” was best.)

This weekend’s drop will be critical to honing estimates. It’s inexact to compare “Inside Out 2” to “Mario” (which opened on a Wednesday, taking away much of its first-weekend grosses), but that 2023 family film dropped 37 percent in its second weekend. More relevant: 2015’s “Inside Out,” which opened (#2!) to $90 million opposite the second week of “Jurassic World,” fell 42 percent.

The higher opening for “Inside Out 2” ($154 million) makes a bigger percentage drop more likely. But even a 60 percent decrease would yield a $62 million weekend, putting it at $315 million.

From there, the math is pretty direct to $500 million. That’s adding full weeks and figuring less-than-50-percent drops (the normal formula), making that figure close to default.

"Despicable Me 4"
‘Despicable Me 4’Courtesy of Illumination

So why does reaching “Mario” or “Barbie” seem less likely despite “Inside Out 2” currently being in range? Simple: In its 20th day of release, the Pixar sequel faces “Despicable Me 4” (Universal). This successful franchise has yielded three releases that passed $250 million unadjusted to current ticket prices (best was “Despicable Me 2” at $368 million, the third biggest film of 2013).

Unlike “Barbie” and “Mario,” neither of which faced significant new competition for a month or longer, and even less for the family audience, “Inside Out 2” is at a disadvantage. “Mario” grossed $41 million its fourth weekend (when “Out” will face “Despicable”) and was still #1. “Inside Out 2” is likely to be third that weekend (with the second week of “A Quiet Place: Day One” probably second).

Still, if it soars above expectations (starting with a second-weekend drop under 50 percent), “Inside Out 2” could still have a shot at “Mario.” In any case, the grosses (with international about the same, making this a strong $1 billion worldwide contender) tell the first real positive story for Pixar after years of struggle.

Two elements stand out. First, it’s a sequel, while nearly all of the company’s recent underperforming releases were standalones. So it’s tough to see how transferable this success is. Second, after years of self-inflicted damage from Disney + exclusive streaming or parallel availability, recent moves by Disney to impose the longest windows for their top titles (typically 60 days, far above the industry average for PVOD, and far longer before streaming) seem to have finally resonated with the public.

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