Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 4″ has launched impressively with $12 million in Thursday night previews in North America.
It’s the second best preview number for an animated movie following the $18.5 million from Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” a year ago. 2016’s “Finding Dory” had been second on that list with $9.2 million.
“Toy Story 4,” which brings back the familiar Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear toys after a nine-year hiatus, has been forecast to earn more than $140 million domestically at 4,575 theaters this weekend. That would be the second largest animated opening after “Incredibles 2” at $182 million. “Finding Dory” is currently second at $135 million, followed by “Shrek the Third” at $121 million. “Toy Story 3” bowed with $110 million in 2010.
“Toy Story 4” should also reverse the recent trend of sequels falling short of expectations with “Men in Black: International,” “Dark Phoenix,” and “Shaft” turning in disappointing performances. Critics have embraced the latest iteration, which carries a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety’s Peter Debruge wrote, “‘Toy Story’ ushered in the era of computer-animated cartoon features, and the fourth movie wraps up the saga beautifully.”
The film, which debuts 24 years after the original “Toy Story,” is directed by Josh Cooley in his feature helming debut. It follows Woody as he deals with a confused spork named Forky, voiced by Tony Hale. “Toy Story 4” is also launching this weekend in about two-thirds of the international market with debuts in Australia, China, Mexico, South Korea and the UK.
Orion Pictures is seeking horror fans with “Child’s Play,” a remake of the 1988 film about a voodoo doll named Chucky amid expectations in the $16 million and $18 million range at 3,007 locations. Mark Hamill voices Chucky in the R-rated reboot, which follows a mother (played by Aubrey Plaza) who unwittingly gives her son a malevolent doll for his birthday.
“Child’s Play” grossed $1.7 million in Thursday night previews at 2,500 sites. It will probably finish second ahead of Universal’s third weekend of “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” Sony’s second weekend of “Men In Black: International” and Disney’s fifth frame of “Aladdin,” which has topped $272 million domestically.
Lionsgate is launching “Anna,” an R-rated actioner starring Russian model Sasha Luss as an assassin, amid modest expectations in the $4 million to $6 million range at 2,114 sites. Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy and Helen Mirren also star. “Anna,” which is being released via the Summit label, took in $325,000 at 1,700 sites in Thursday night previews.
“Toy Story 4” is coming into the overall North American market down 8.6% for the year with $5.13 billion as of June 19, according to Comsore. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore, asserted that the outlook is brightening with “Spider-Man: Far from Home” and “The Lion King” arriving in July.
“All the talk of so-called franchise fatigue goes right out the window this weekend as Buzz, Woody and the other beloved characters of the venerable ‘Toy Story’ franchise take willing audiences once again ‘to infinity and beyond’ with an expected stellar debut that will rank among the biggest ever for the seemingly unstoppable Pixar brand,” he added. ‘Toy Story 4’ plus a massive slate of upcoming summer releases (and a month of July that could be one of the biggest ever) will systematically if slowly get things moving in the right direction.”