Whenever I attend the movies these days, odds are that I’m going to see a Disney movie, not by choice, but because it’s what’s available more often than not. It also means watching trailers for other Disney movies, which will be a large percentage of the choices in any given future month at this point. Three of the top ten movies this week are Disney movies. Four of the top 10 movies this year, so far, come from Disney. That honestly wouldn’t be so bad if the most powerful movie studio on the planet didn’t recycle the same characters and the same stories over and over. With Disney’s existing catalog, 21st Century Fox’s catalog, Marvel, and LucasFilm, Disney owns a large share of existing Intellectual Property, so they have little incentive to create anything new. While their films obviously do very well (again, four of the top ten films this year come from Disney), it also means that there’s a certain quality of sameness to going to the movies these days. The movies may be good, but they won’t be surprising or interesting. They’ll be comfortable.
Enter Toy Story 4, the latest installment in a 24-year-old franchise. Personally, I wasn’t that excited about going to see Toy Story 4 because I thought the franchise ended perfectly after the third film. But I have kids, so I knew attending would be inevitable. And the thing is: I ended up loving Toy Story 4, which is probably my second favorite of the franchise (after Toy Story 2). It’s a fantastic film that introduces a number of clever new characters (Forky!) and cleverly trades on a lot of horror tropes before delivering a whopping emotional finale. I’m glad I saw it, despite my initial lack of enthusiasm.
However, I think it was that lack of enthusiasm among the general public that resulted in a somewhat disappointing $118 million opening. Granted, almost no one is going to argue with a $118 million, the third best opening ever for an animated film And yet, it’s more than $60 million short of the opening of last year’s Incredibles 2. It’s also well short of the lofty $200 million opening that some were anticipating and much lower than the $150 million tracking for the film.