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“Toy Story 4” Challenges Sequel Slump, “Child’s Play” Scores Franchise High Debut

The summer of 2019 has proven to be a sour one for sequels with “Dark Phoenix”, “The Secret Life of Pets 2”, “Men in Black: International” and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” all falling short of expectations. This has led to a string of six different box office chart toppers over the past two months creating the longest unbroken streak of different number one films in years. Disney and Pixar hoped to not only continue that streak this past weekend but also break the sequel slump with “Toy Story 4”, the potentially final entry in the long-running franchise that dates back to the mid-90s. It was considered a sure thing that “Toy Story 4” would top the box office, but was it able to overpower the downward trend of sequels to earn a massive payday? Let’s take a look at how it faired in this week’s Box Office Breakdown.

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As expected, “Toy Story 4” did top the chart, but even Disney and Pixar couldn’t escape the sequel slump. On the surface, $118 million looks like quite the successful haul for the animated sequel and in a lot of ways it is. The take is the highest opening in the franchise, topping “Toy Story 3’s” debut of $110.3 million nine years ago and is the fourth largest animated opening in history. It’s also the third largest opening of 2019 with Disney now holding all four of the biggest openings of the year. But the studio had much larger expectations for “Toy Story 4”, a film that carries an estimated $175-$200 million budget. Disney and Pixar expected a total closer to $140 million especially after “Incredible 2” earned over $180 million this time last year and another sequel, “Finding Dory”, topped $135 million at this time in 2016. But there were always question marks about how “Toy Story 4” would go over, seeing as many felt the series was properly closed with the third film. When all is said and done it’s hard to scoff at a $118 million opening and it’s a testament to the series’ popularity that such a huge first weekend is considered a minor disappointment. Internationally “Toy Story 4” earned $120 million bringing its global debut to $238 million. You can read my review of “Toy Story 4” here.

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Coming in second is another toy-related new release, “Child’s Play”. A reboot/remake of the 1988 classic featuring Chucky the killer doll, “Child’s Play” earned $14 million in its opening weekend which is a far cry from the success other remakes have received in years past. For comparison, the 2007 “Halloween” remake earned an opening of $26 million, the 2009 reboot of “Friday the 13th” became the highest grossing film in that series with a $40 million starting weekend, the 2010 remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” earned $32.9 million in its opening, and the 2011 “Poltergeist” remake kicked off with $22.6 million. Still “Child’s Play” did bring the largest opening weekend of any film in the franchise and even if it missed the $18 million mark it was expected to reach. With a budget of around $10 million “Child’s Play” is already making bank domestically but will face major competition with this week’s “Annabelle Comes Home” and July’s “Crawl” waiting in the wings. You can read my review of “Childs’ Play” here.

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The rest of the top ten were all holdover films as the only other new entry, the assassin film “Anna” which was marred by controversy over accusations of rape against director Luc Besson in 2018, failed to reach the top ten. It bowed out in eleventh with a $3.5 million opening. Disney’s live-action remake “Aladdin” took home the third spot, still it’s lowest position five weeks into its release, while last week’s champion “Men in Black: International” and another animated sequel “The Secret Life of Pets 2” rounded out the top five. In sixth was “Rocketman”, the only film in the top ten that’s not a sequel or remake. “John Wick: Chapter 3”, “Godzilla 2”, “Dark Phoenix” and “Shaft” rounded out the top ten in that order.

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“Toy Story 4” will likely break the streak of different box office winners leaving the record for 2019 at seven. Just for the sake of argument, the last time the box office went more than seven weeks without a repeat winner was in 2014. Between April and June of that year, eleven different films scored the top spot between repeat weekends. Two promising new entries could surprise, though…they won’t but who knows. “Annabelle Comes Home”, the third entry in the “Annabelle” series, part of the “Conjuring” Universe, will release starting on Wednesday while “Yesterday”, a film I’ve personally been waiting months to see, will bring the music of the Beatles to the big screen as well. “Avengers: Endgame” will also see a reported rerelease with new footage this weekend as a lead in to next week’s early debut of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and as a late attempt to make a push for the global box office record still held by “Avatar”. We’ll see how it all shakes out this time next week.

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