"Inside Out" may be the first Pixar film not to debut at No. 1, but its strong $91.1-million domestic launch still ranks as the second-highest opening weekend in the studio's history.
The Pete Docter-directed film blew past early tracking expectations of $60 million and ended up finishing a close second to Universal Pictures' "Jurassic World."
The latest installment of the dinosaur franchise added an estimated $102 million to its total in the United States and Canada, the second-biggest haul in history for a film in its second weekend, behind only the $103.1-million that "Marvel's The Avengers" scored in its weekend No. 2 in 2012.
"Jurassic World," directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, raised its worldwide total to an estimated $981.3 million.
"Spy," "San Andreas" and new release "Dope," helped to boost the box office 65% higher than it was the same weekend a year ago, when "Think Like a Man Too" opened with $29.2 million. Year-to-date, the box office is up about 6.2%.
Strong reviews propelled "Inside Out," about an 11-year-old Midwestern girl named Riley who is steered through a life-changing move to San Francisco by the emotions in her head: Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). Lauded by critics at the Cannes Film Festival, the film has a 98% positive rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and an A grade from audience polling firm CinemaScore.
Only "Toy Story 3," with a $110.3-million debut weekend in 2010, has opened bigger for Disney-owned Pixar.
Dave Hollis, Disney's head of distribution, said Disney had a strategy of exposing the film at Cannes, the CinemaCon trade show and screenings to help generate early buzz.
"It all culminated in a mass critical reception that basically told consumers you'd be crazy not to see this movie," Hollis said. "It helped create urgency for it becoming a motion picture event, a cultural event."
As expected, families turned out en mass: An estimated 71% of moviegoers were families, and 38% of the audience were 12 or younger. About 56% of moviegoers were female.
Hollis credited the success of the film to its "unbelievable relatability" and "sophisticated story."
"Pixar has done it again because they have stuck to quality being the best business plan philosophy," he said.
"Jurassic World" may have prevented "Inside Out" from claiming the top spot at the box office, but Hollis said the dino film built momentum for his new release.
"There could be an argument made that consumers having had a great experience in theaters ... helped put them in the mind-set to come back for another great experience," he said.
Melissa McCarthy's "Spy" finished in third place and added $10.5 million in its third weekend, a 33% drop from last week. The comedy has made $74.4 million.
The earthquake film "San Andreas" starring Dwayne Johnson came in at No. 4, adding $8.2 million. Its domestic haul to date is about $132.2 million.
The new comedy-drama "Dope" rounded out the top five with a solid $6-million debut. Open Road Films and Sony Pictures Worldwide reportedly acquired the film at the Sundance Film Festival for $7 million.
The film, written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa, was made with help from producers Forest Whitaker and Nina Bongiovi, as well as executive producer Pharrell Williams and co-executive producer Sean Combs. It follows nerdy high school seniors Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) after they accidentally cross paths with neighborhood drug dealer Dom (rapper ASAP Rocky).
The film earned largely positive reviews and an A-minus CinemaScore. Audiences were almost split evenly between male and female, but they skewed young: About 55% were younger than 25. An estimated 43% were African American.
"I think people are drawn to the movie because it's fresh, original and funny," said Jason Cassidy, chief marketing officer of Open Road Films. "It's not really like anything out in the marketplace right now."
Unlike most other independent films, "Dope" opened in wide release (2,002 screens) right off the bat.
"We looked at it as a counter programming opportunity," Cassidy said.
In limited release, "The Overnight" opened to an estimated $61,523 on just three screens in New York and Los Angeles, making its per screen average $20,507. The film, which stars Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman, Taylor Schilling and Judith Godreche, follows two couples in Los Angeles who meet for a dinner party that gets unexpectedly intimate.
Also in limited release: Fox Searchlight's "Me and Early and the Dying Girl" added $351,700 in its second weekend, bringing its 10-day total to about $645,000.