PALM BEACH – Toy Story 4, the latest installment of Disney/Pixar Animation’s long-running animated franchise, came in at number one at the U.S. box office this weekend, earning a series opening high of $118 million; however, while an impressive opening by any metric, that number nonetheless falls well below Disney’s low-end estimates of $140-$150 million, not to mention the opening-weekend haul of another recent Pixar release- The Incredibles 2, which set a record of $182 million when it was released last year.
While any movie with a $118 million opening weekend is considered a huge hit, the lower than expected Toy Story 4 debut still stands as the third-highest opening of 2019 to date, as well as the third-highest opening weekend ‘ever‘ for an animated movie, behind only The Incredibles 2 and 2007’s Shrek the Third, which debuted with a massive $121 million.
For a tent-pole feature from the biggest animation studio in the world involving a proven and popular commodity such as Toy Story, coupled with wildly positive reviews and the fact that it’s been 9 years since the franchise’s last theatrical release – Toy Story 3 hit theaters in 2010 and opened with $110 million – the fact that the latest adventures of Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang fell well short of Disney’s estimates is proving to some pundits that perhaps Hollywood’s increasing reliance on establishing media franchises and churning out sequel after sequel – as opposed to taking risks on new, unproven properties – may be starting to wear out its welcome with the public.
In addition, many considered Toy Story 3 to be a perfect conclusion to the series, with some of the opinion that the very fact that a sequel now exists merely reeks of an attempt at a cash-grab. After the emotional closure that the previous entry provided, there could be reduced interest on the part of audiences in yet another, unasked-for sequel that involved the crew of living toys being separated from their owner yet again.
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Talk is already ‘buzzing’ over Toy Story 5 being a possibility.