Movie theater owners have to be licking their chops looking at the tracking numbers for this box office weekend. With “The Incredibles 2” coming off of the biggest opening in animation history, Pixar’s four-quadrant hit will go head-to-head against Universal’s big tentpole blockbuster, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”
Both of these films made box office headlines in different parts of the world last weekend. In the U.S., “Incredibles 2” launched with $182.7 million, the eighth-highest opening weekend for any North American release and the third Disney film in 2018 to crack that top ten list. On Monday, the sequel had the highest opening Monday in animation history with an industry-estimated $29.6 million.
Meanwhile, “Fallen Kingdom” opened in China and improved on its predecessor’s launch with $112 million. Over 11 days, the film has grossed more than $370 million, putting the film on track to become Universal’s sixth billion-dollar hit.
But as it opens here in the U.S., “Fallen Kingdom” may face a bigger challenge than analysts had previously anticipated. It was expected that the audiences for “Fallen Kingdom” and “Incredibles 2” would have minimal overlap, as the Pixar film would be mostly aimed towards families.
But the 18-35 demographic that came out in droves to the first “Jurassic World” has shown rabid interest in “Incredibles 2,” and that could lead to some major competition. Universal is projecting an opening weekend of $130-140 million, but multiple analysts who spoke with TheWrap said that competition from “Incredibles 2” could weigh down those numbers, with an opening of $120-130 million more likely.
“There were a lot of younger moviegoers that were in theaters last week to see ‘Incredibles 2’ who saw trailers for upcoming movies, including ‘Jurassic World,'” said comScore’s Paul Dergarabedian. “But there’s no denying that there’s going to be quite a bit of competition between a live-action sequel to a film from three years ago and a sequel that a generation of moviegoers have been waiting for.”
It’s a reverse case of what the movie industry saw in 2015, when “Jurassic World” came out a week after Pixar’s “Inside Out,” a film that had critical acclaim but didn’t have a pre-existing fanbase. “JW,” on the other hand, had the hype that comes with being the first “Jurassic Park” sequel in 14 years. Both movies did fine. “Inside Out” won an Oscar and took an $857.6 million global gross. But “Jurassic World” steamrolled all the summer competition and earned $1.67 billion, which stood as the record for summer blockbusters until “Avengers: Infinity War” broke it last month.
But now the tables have turned, as Pixar has the sequel 14 years in the making while “Fallen Kingdom” is asking audiences to come back for more of the spectacle that was on offer not too long ago. The critical and audience word-of-mouth is favoring “Incredibles 2,” which has a 94 percent Rotten Tomatoes score compared to 59 percent for “Fallen Kingdom.”
Ultimately, “Fallen Kingdom” is expected to have a great weekend regardless of Pixar’s presence. A $120-140 million start is around what the first “Jurassic World” was expected to make before it blew away expectations with a $208 million launch. But with a third “Jurassic World” already being planned, the opening performance for “Fallen Kingdom” may tell how many moviegoers have longterm interest in the “Jurassic” franchise.
“This is a franchise designed for international success, which Universal has been good at with the ‘Fast & Furious’ movies,” said Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock
“Incredibles 2,” meanwhile, may help give the box office charts not one but two $100 million-plus weekends this weekend. Over the past few years, Pixar films have had a second-weekend drop-off of around 45 percent. If “Incredibles 2” has that same drop, it would become the sixth film to gross over $100 million in its second weekend.
But Bock believes the sequel will perform more like a Marvel movie than a Pixar movie, meaning a drop-off of 50-55 percent that will push the weekend total below $100 million. Still, that would mean a Pixar-best $85-90 million.
“It’s hard seeing ‘Incredibles 2’ retaining all parts of its opening weekend audience enough to top $100 million, and ‘Fallen Kingdom’ will get most of the non-family business,” Bock said. “But it will be interesting to see if Universal reconsiders their future plans for the franchise if it does end up being neck-and-neck for the No. 1 spot.”
But Dergarabedian says that no matter which movie comes out on top, the theaters will win.
“These are the kind of weekends I love as an analyst, where there’s so much variety in theaters and we’re not entirely certain how things will pan out. We had a great May to kick off the summer season, and now June is looking like it will be just as big.”