Box Office Preview – TOY STORY 4 continues Disney’s 2019 domination

Welcome back to the Beat’s weekly Box Office Preview!
After a couple disappointing weekends, this weekend offers a movie that’s guaranteed to be a huge hit. It’s also a weird weekend, because the “counter-programming” also has creepy dolls… and then there’s an action movie with a similar title as a creepy doll movie that’s opening next week. It’s enough to make a movie preview writer want to throw in the towel, but let’s talk about a movie that people actually want to see first…

TOY STORY 4 (Disney/Pixar)

Toy Story 4
Walt Disney / Pixar

Voice Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Tony Hale, Christina Hendricks, Annie Potts, Kristen Schaal, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Joan Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Madeleine McGraw, Jay Hernandez, Mel Brooks, June Squibb, Don Rickles,
Directed By: Josh Cooley (Directorial debut of long-time Pixar vet)
MPAA Rating: G
After three successive weeks of sequels that no one seemed to be interested in seeing, we get a sequel that’s totally unnecessary… that everyone’s probably going to want to see. In other words, if you think you can give moviegoers anything that can make them happy but you’re not a studio called “Disney,” that’s just tough luck.
Pixar Animation have been on such a role over the last few decades, including last year’s The Incredibles 2, which became the company’s highest-grossing movie with $600 million domestic. Why not go back to the well on one of the company’s more recent success stories?
When Toy Story 3 opened this weekend in 2010, it was following a series of original animated films of varying degrees of success (as well as three consecutive Animated Oscars), but also became the company’s only sequel since Toy Story 2 in 1999. It opened with $110 million, Pixar’s biggest opening, and surpassed Finding Nemo as the company’s highest domestic grosser at the time, as well as surpassing $1 billion worldwide. It also won the Oscar for Animated Feature, only one of two sequels to do that, and paved the way for a number of sequels including not one but two for John Lasseter’s Cars. (WHY?!)
More importantly, two of Pixar’s last two summer sequels have been huge hits including 2016’s Finding Dory, so when Pixar figured out a way to continue Woody’s story for a Toy Story 4, it wasn’t hard to get the voice cast back together including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and all the smaller roles… well, they’re all voicing kids toys and are pretty small. The big additions are Veep star Tony Hale as a new character named Forky and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) as a villain, of sorts, named Gabby Gabby. Oh, yeah, and Keanu Reeves, fresh off his hit John Wick: Chapter 3, voices Canadian stunt cycle toy Duke Kaboom.  Another big addition is the reunion of Jordan Peele and Kegan-Michael Key as a couple of violent plush toys, and these new characters are a big factor in what makes Toy Story 4 so worthwhile.
It’s little to no surprise that the reviews for Toy Story 4 have been incredible, at the time of this writing still at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 100 reviews posted. This probably shouldn’t be a surprise based on the similar critical popularity of the previous three movies, but it also shows that the cynicism towards Pixar making a fourth movie was unfounded. (The Beat’s own Kyle Pinion liked it, too!)
Toy Story 4 is coming into a box office where few sequels have fared very well other than Avengers: Endgame, but the Toy Story  movies hold a place in the heart of as many adults as it does kids, and the fact it received a VERY rare G-rating could help the movie bring in a much wider audience than any other movie this year.
I’m sure that Toy Story 4 will open bigger than the previous movie and maybe even bigger than 2016’s Finding Dory ($135 million opening, $486 million domestic). I don’t think it will open bigger than last year’s The Incredibles 2 ($182.7 million) because that was a sequel that was a long time coming and by its nature of being about superheroes could bring in a larger male audience. Even so, Pixar’s latest should open in the $140 to 150 million range with a good chance of matching the $415 million domestic gross of the third movie, although it might have its run cut short by Spider-Man: Far from Home in a couple short weeks.

CHILD’S PLAY (Orion/U.A. Releasing)

Child's Play
Orion / U.A. Releasing

Cast: Gabriel Bateman, Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, Tim Matheson, Mark Hammill (voice)
Directed By: Lars Klevberg (Polaroid)
MPAA Rating: R
Offering the first bit of counter-programming (if there’s sort of a thing for a Pixar movie) is this horror remake/reboot of one of the ‘80s horror icons, who had a relatively short lifespan of five movies that stretched over fifteen years.
United Artists released the original Child’s Play in 1988 where it grossed $33.2 million, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but the #1 movie of that year (Rain Man) made $172.8 million. The idea of a killer doll named Chucky seemed to fit in with the other movies around that time, and it was the 2nd biggest horror movie of the year after A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Master, which grossed $49 million. The 1990 sequel Child’s Play 2 opened bigger but grossed less, and then Child’s Play 3 outright bombed, another example of decreasing returns with a horror franchise. In 1998 someone wisely teamed with
Orion Pictures has been back, now part of the new entity United Artists Releasing, so of course, they’re gonna try to bring Chucky back. Although this Chucky looks very different and is voiced by Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hammill, the star of the film (and new “Andy”) is Gabriel Bateman, who starred in the 2016 horror hit Lights Out. It also stars Aubrey Plaza who has done a wide variety of comedic roles and has been doing the rounds promoting the movie.
Horror remakes were all the rage in the first decade of the 21st Century but they started losing favor with horror fans so that recent remakes of  2015’s Poltergeist and 2013’s Carrie have disappointed  while still opening with between $15 and 25 million. The only remake since those two was last year’s Blumhouse sequel Halloween, which did huge business, maybe because it was thought of as a sequel rather than a straight remake or reboot.
Unfortunately, fans of the original Chucky movies have been kind of down on how the new Chucky looks, similar to how they were down on the look of Sonic the Hedgehog, getting that movie moved to 2020. Chucky’s look aside, U.A. Releasing clearly doesn’t have too much confidence in the movie as they’re only screening it for critics late on Wednesday, maybe hoping that there will be enough advance tickets sold that any bad reviews won’t have much of an effect.
There’s still quite a bit of interest in horror and maybe because this is a remake made for younger audiences who might not be too familiar with Chucky, it won’t suffer the same “sequelitis” that has plagued the last few weeks of summer. Because of that, I can see Child’s Play grossing somewhere in the $15 million range, which isn’t great but isn’t really bad for a horror film either.
Check out my review of Child’s Play, although it’s surprisingly at a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes.

ANNA (Lionsgate)


Cast: Sasha Luss, Helen Mirren, Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Ana Krippa, Lera Abova,
Directed By: Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element, Lucy, La Femme Nikita and many more)
MPAA Rating: R
Listen, I’m not going to use this portion of the column to throw shade at a director who  was such a pioneer in French action cinema, but it’s hard to talk about Luc Besson without mentioning the recent sexual misconduct allegations against him. Listen, I’ll be the first to admit that Besson’s output as a filmmaker has been spotty in the last ten years, but let’s not forget about all the good movies he’s directed and produced and the mega-stars he’s brought to light over the years, but it’s also hard to see him being able to get people to see his movies in this environment.
Anna is Besson’s latest movie in the vein of his 2014 action movie Lucy, which had the benefits of starring a super-hot Scarlett Johansson, who helped it open with $43.9 million and make $463 million worldwide. Besson’s last movie, the sci-fi action movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets opened two years ago with $17 million and barely made Lucy’s opening weekend in total domestically.
This one stars Besson’s latest “discovery,” Russian dancer/actress Sasha Luss, who played an alien princes is Valerian. The cast also includes Helen Mirren, Luke Evans and Cillian Murphy, with Mirren possibly the only one a draw as she continues to appear in genre films like the upcoming Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw.
There are two major problems with Anna, the first one being Besson’s involvement, but clearly, Lionsgate is so worried about his involvement that they don’t even have the faith to put much marketing or promotion behind it. Those interested in the movie will remember the amazing female-led action movies made by Besson including La Femme Nikita, Colombiana and others, although you have to really wonder how many people even know this movie comes out this weekend. Others might confuse it with next week’sAnnabelle Come Home.  (It’s a shame since this one looks like the Charlize Theron action movie Atomic Blonde directed by Deadpool 2’s  David Leitch.)
I’ll be shocked if this movie makes $5 million this weekend, because I honestly don’t think even the most diehard of movie or action fans even know of its existence. It will open in the bottom half of the top 10 regardless and will quickly vanish from theaters
You can read my own review of Anna here.
As has been the case the last few weekends, many movies will be losing a lot of theaters to make way for Toy Story 4, which should dominate the box office quite effortlessly until Spider-Man: Far from Home opens just before the 4thof July.
This Week’s Box Office Predictions:

  1. Toy Story 4 (Disney/Pixar) – $148.7 million N/A (up .7 million) *
  2. Child’s Play (Orion/U.A. Releasing) – $15.7 million N/A (up .5 million)*
  3. Men in Black International (Sony) – $13.5 million -55%
  4. The Secret Life of Pets 2 (Universal) – $12.2 million -50%
  5. Aladdin (Walt Disney Pictures) – $9.8 million -44%
  6. Rocketman (Paramount) – $5.5 million -42%
  7. Anna (Lionsgate) – $4.5 million N/A (down .3 million)*
  8. Shaft (New Line) – $4.2 million -53%
  9. John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Lionsgate) – $3.8 million -40%
  10. Dark Phoenix (20th Century Fox) – $3.5 million -60% (down .2 million)

*UPDATE: The top two movies of the weekend are arriving in far more theaters than I projected with Toy Story 4 opening in 4,575 theaters, the 2nd widest release ever, and Child’s Play opening in over 3,000 theaters with far better reviews than I expected earlier in the week.
Those living in New York and L.A have the luxury of seeing NEON’s Wild Rose this weekend. It’s a festival favorite based around Jessie Buckley’s amazing performance as Rose-Lynn, a Scottish single mother of two who wants to pursue a career as a country singer after being released from jail. There are also a few decent docs like Sundance Select’s The Quiet One about Rollins Stones bassist Bill Wyman and Tony Morrison: The Pieces I Am, about the influential author of Beloved.
Next week, June ends with New Line’s Annabelle Comes Home and Danny Boyle and Love, Actually’s Richard Curtis team for the Beatles-inspired musical rom-com Yesterday.