Toy Story 3 Dominates Box Office; Hex Flops
By John Hamann
June 20, 2010
After a weekend where the remake of The Karate Kid blew away expectations with a $55 million opening, Toy Story 3 delivered at the box office, too. Expected to debut around the $100 million mark, Toy Story 3 came in ahead of that number, opening to a wonderful $109 million. This result brings a summer completely out of its doldrums, as the top five earned more than $160 million. Meanwhile, back on the ranch, Jonah Hex reminded us what the last six weeks have been like, as it bombed badly, failing to register more than $6 million.
Understand this phrase: Without Toy Story, there would be no Pixar. It's true. In 1995, Disney's Jeffrey Katzenberg approached John Lasseter about making a feature film around Pixar's short film, Tin Toy, which eventually became Toy Story, the first feature film to use 100% CGI. Disney and Pixar started a three-film partnership, with Pixar taking cash and 10% of any of the film's profit. The original Toy Story was made for $30 million, earning $192 million domestically and $362 million worldwide. A star was born, and we are left with the only production company that can open a film based on their brand alone. A Bug's Life followed three years later, earning $363 million worldwide in 1998 dollars. A year later, Toy Story 2 was released. The second Toy Story flick opened to $57 million over three days, with more than $80 million earned in the five-day Thanksgiving weekend in 1999. It was a top five film until January 2000, and finished with a $246 million domestic gross and a worldwide gross just short of $500 million – remember, that's in 1999 dollars. The $246 million domestic gross would be $380 million today.
Ten years later, Pixar is back with Toy Story 3 – the kind of film that doesn't carry the question "will it work, or not?" Instead, it carries the question, "how big will it be?" Tracking was looking for a $100 million opening, BOP's Reagen Sulewski was looking for a $111 million opening, and I was looking for a $150 million opening. Like usual, Reagen was closest, as Toy Story 3 opens to a dramatic $109 million from 4,058 venues, over 2,000 of those 3D screens. It becomes Pixar's biggest debut, as The Incredibles had held the Pixar record at $70.5 million for seven years. This obliterates the old Pixar high watermark by $40 million. Toy Story 3 is now apt to bring $400 million into box office coffers for the summer. It may also help to save it, as things so far in summer 2010 have not been great. The summer was off 6.5% versus last year thus far, and the overall box office needed a big hit. It got it, particularly with this weekend facing off against a soft one from last year when The Proposal opened to $33 million and the top 12 earned $144 million (slightly more than what this weekend's top two films earned). Besides being Pixar's biggest debut, Toy Story 3 is also the biggest opening for the month of June, just getting by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which started with $108 million.