When Toy Story 3 hit theaters in 2010, it had been over 10 years since the previous film was released. Anticipation was high, with many adults feeling connected to Andy’s story, having grown up alongside him. It hit the perfect nostalgic note for many. It ended up grossing about $110 million in its opening weekend, which at the time was the biggest opener ever for a Pixar film. How high can Toy Story 4 fly?
Deadline published an article yesterday that shared analysts’ predictions about the film’s opening weekend. A few months back, predictions were in the $130 million range, a modest increase from the previous film’s opening. I thought that was a bit too low. It has been about nine years now since Toy Story 3 was released1, and the film’s characters are some of the most iconic in Hollywood today. After seeing online ticket sales, it seems that analysts have reassessed the expected outcome.
Toy Story 4 advance tickets first went on sale on Tuesday this week. According to Deadline, both Fandango and Atom Tickets have gone on record that the film’s first day ticket sales actually outsold Incredibles 2’s first 24 hours. Last year, Incredibles 2 went on to gross just above $182 million in its first three days. So now we have evidence that the demand for Toy Story 4 is high, and could be big enough to send it flying past Incredibles 2.
Over the last few years, there have been a good number of examples of blockbuster films’ opening weekends far surpassing initial predictions. Examples include Black Panther, Incredibles 2, and Avengers: Endgame. All of these films were connected to well-known brands and/or properties, with an extra bit of anticipation from audiences. For Black Panther, it was the first Marvel film starring a black character (it also garnered incredible reviews and amazing word-of-mouth). Avengers: Endgame was billed as the film that would wrap up the story of the previous Marvel films and it also followed a film that ended on a cliffhanger that left audiences shocked and wanting to immediately know more.
Incredibles 2, ironically enough, might be the best film to look at when trying to predict Toy Story 4’s box office performance. Yes, Incredibles 2 tells the story of a family with super powers, and superheroes have the ability to print money in the film industry these days (at least if you’re a Marvel film). Although the film happened to star a superhero family, I would argue that the “superhero” nature of the story was secondary to the nostalgia that fans experienced that brought them out in droves. It is the same nostalgia that had audiences excited to turn out for Toy Story 3. Today, there are even more people around the continent who are familiar with the cast of toys, and those people have had more children they might want to share it with. That may mean more people are excited for Toy Story 4 compared to how many were looking forward to seeing Toy Story 3.
An important point to keep in mind is that when films are predicted to reach astronomical numbers (e.g. a $200+ million opening weekend), analysts’ predictions hold less weight than films expected to open smaller. There are simply fewer instances of films hitting those numbers, so analysts have less historical data to rely on to make their educated guesses. Still, it is clear that Toy Story 4 is garnering more interest than analysts initially thought. It is possible that the film may approach the $200 million mark in its first three days. After all, Incredibles 2 was not far from hitting that number and Toy Story characters may be more well-known. Also, Toy Story 3 ended remarkably well, destroying audiences emotionally, and it sounds like the next film could be following in its footsteps. There is a large amount of trust that viewers have in the Toy Story franchise at this point. There might be enough here to power Toy Story 4 to huge numbers – $200 million and maybe even more. We will have to wait and see!
- Can you believe it has been almost a decade since Toy Story 3 was released? I can’t. It felt like I only said (what I thought was) goodbye to these characters just a few years back. ↩