With "Jurassic World" looking at another dino-sized weekend at the box office, "Inside Out" could be the first Pixar film to not open at No. 1.
Early tracking suggests the Pete Docter-directed animated film will debut in the robust $60-million range. But that would still put it behind the $90-million estimates for Universal Pictures' latest "Jurassic" installment.
"Conventional wisdom and box office history would indicate that the second weekend of 'Jurassic World' could create a situation where for the first time a Pixar movie would not open at No. 1," said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for research firm Rentrak.
However, Dergarabedian noted "Inside Out" "should not be underestimated." The film was lauded by critics at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and garnered a 100% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film is about an 11-year-old Midwestern girl named Riley and the emotions in her head. The emotions — Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) — are all characters of their own, steering Riley through a life-changing move to San Francisco.
Pixar boasts a strong track record. For the last two decades, the Emeryville, Calif.-based animation studio has delivered a reliable string of critical and commercial successes to its parent company, Disney.
"Monsters University," the studio's most recent release before "Inside Out," pulled in a whopping $82.4 million in the U.S. and Canada when it rolled out in theaters in June 2013. It went on to gross $745.6 million worldwide.
Docter, an Oscar-winning filmmaker, is also a beloved figure at the studio, known for being the mastermind behind emotional animated hits such as "Up." The film about a 78-year-old widower's road trip with a chubby young boy debuted with $68.2 million in 2009. It went on to gross $293 million domestically and $438.3 million internationally, bringing its worldwide total to an estimated $731.3 million.
"If you create characters people connect with and tell stories that deeply entertain and move them … the audience will come," John Lasseter, Pixar cofounder, said at an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences event last month.
With a limited number of family films currently in the market, "Inside Out" will probably attract underserved moviegoers who crave a strong animated family film. Analysts expect it will have long life at the summer box office.
"If 'Jurassic World' taught us anything, it is not to underestimate any movies this summer," Dergarabedian added. "There can be no foregone conclusions."
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MPAA rating: PG for mild thematic elements, action
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes