The Pixar Generation Just Helped ‘Incredibles 2’ Make Box Office History

Kids who saw “The Incredibles” have come back in their twenties to make the sequel into a record breaker

Last Updated: June 19, 2018 @ 12:42 PM

Pixar movies have largely been surefire family hits for more than 20 years, but this past weekend “The Incredibles 2” took it even further with one of the top ten biggest movie openings of all time. And it’s all thanks to the generation that fawned over the first installment nearly 15 years ago.

“This weekend really shows that Pixar has entered the second generation in terms of its audience,” said BoxOffice analyst Shawn Robbins. “That long time gap in between sequels has made these films a must-see beyond the family crowd.”

Sure, the kids who just got out of school and their parents are still Pixar’s main moneymakers. (According to Disney’s demographic data, 40 percent of audiences who saw “Incredibles 2” this weekend were under the age of 17, with 26 percent ages 11 and under.) However, those aged 17-24 counted for a total audience share of 16 percent, higher than that of teens’ 14 percent.

Forty percent of moviegoers polled by comScore’s PosTrak were in the 18-24 age group, tying “Finding Dory” for the age group’s highest audience share for a Pixar film in the last five years. Within that age group, 87 percent of those surveyed said they would “definitely recommend” the film to their friends, compared to 88 percent for teens and around 72 percent for moviegoers age 25-44. Seventy two percent of those in the 18-24 group also gave the film an “Excellent” rating, higher than any other age group.

Whether you want to classify them as younger millennials or the first wave of Gen Z, these twenty-somethings that are raving about this movie were mostly in grammar school when “The Incredibles” came out in 2004.

Back then, Pixar had just started to spread its wings as the new titans of animation, having just come off of “Finding Nemo,” which dethroned “The Lion King” as the biggest animation hit in box office history with $940 million grossed worldwide. “The Incredibles” didn’t quite reach that level, but still did well with a $633 million global gross,  $261.4 million of which was made domestically. Its $70 million opening weekend would roughly equate to $103 million in today’s money.

But 14 years later, the kids who had fond memories of seeing “The Incredibles” are now grown up, and the novelty of seeing the likes of Elastigirl and Edna Mode again after more than a decade has been bigger than box office analysts could have ever anticipated, pushing the appeal of “Incredibles 2” beyond families and making it into a four-quadrant hit.

“It doesn’t matter if you have kids. For adults of a certain age, there’s now an emotional currency and nostalgia to these Pixar sequels that can’t be easily quantified in dollars and cents,” said comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

And while this is the biggest example of the Pixar Generation’s bump of a long-awaited sequel, it isn’t the first. Back in 2010, “Toy Story 3” told the story of Woody and his pals coming to terms with a college-age Andy no longer needing his toys.

With an eleven-year gap from the previous “Toy Story” film, many college-age moviegoers had grown up with Andy, making the threequel extra poignant for them. It was the first film from Pixar that recognized how its audience had grown up, and the result was a new animation box office record with $415 million domestic.

Six years later, that record was broken again by another sequel with a decade-plus-long wait, “Finding Dory.” Released 13 years after “Finding Nemo,” the sequel focused on Ellen DeGeneres’ blue tang set a new opening weekend record for animated films with $135 million and a domestic record $486 million. Again, while a new generation of kids fell in love with Dory and Nemo, the ones who were learning long division when the first film came out returned as adults to bump up the film’s numbers.

Now, with the 18-35 demographic filled with moviegoers that have a childhood fondness for Pixar’s early works, “The Incredibles 2” has proven to be as powerful a presence at the box office as any live-action superhero film.

In just one weekend, “Incredibles 2” opened to $182.7 million, higher than the openings for every Marvel film outside of “Black Panther” and the three “Avengers” films. The film has also already eclipsed the entire domestic run of last year’s Pixar summer film, “Cars 3,” and posted the best opening Monday ever for an animated film with $29.6 million, pushing its domestic total to more than $211 million.

“Since the first ‘Incredibles’ came out, superhero films have taken over,” Dergarabedian added. “There’s a nostalgia for ‘The Incredibles’ that is just as strong as Spider-Man or any comic book hero, so the sequel is getting both that superhero movie appeal and the excitement of the return of a beloved Pixar family.”