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Pixar's 'Inside Out' opens to $3.7 million Thursday night

Pixar's 'Inside Out' opens to $3.7 million Thursday night
The character Joy appears in a scene from Pixar's "Inside Out." The film is one of 16 submitted for Oscar consideration in the animated feature race. (Pixar)

Pixar's emotional new film "Inside Out" should be feeling pretty happy based on early box-office numbers.

The movie grossed a studio-estimated $3.7 million from pre-show screenings in the U.S., the biggest ever Thursday night number for a Pixar or Disney Animation film, according to Disney.

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The 2013 outing "Monsters University" took in $2.6 million in its Thursday bow on its way to grossing $82.4 million in its first weekend in theaters. Last year's "Big Hero 6" took $1.4 million in its pre-weekend debut, while "Frozen" went out on a Tuesday with $1.2 million. 

"Inside Out's" $3.7 million does not include special screenings presented by Fathom Events in 661 theaters, according to Disney. Those figures will roll into Friday estimates.

"Inside Out" follows an 11-year-old girl, Riley, through a life-changing move to San Francisco. Her emotions run wild and are personified as characters in the film, named Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust.

Going into the weekend, analysts have projected the computer-animated film to gross around $60 million through Sunday in the U.S. and Canada.

While that would be a robust opening, the picture is still expected to come in behind last week's victor, "Jurassic World." The "Jurassic Park" sequel is likely to take in about $90 million in domestic ticket sales to follow up on its record-breaking $208.8-million opening.

Also opening wide is the much-discussed comedy-drama "Dope," about three geeky high school outsiders who get in way over their heads in underworld Los Angeles.

The movie took in $425,000 Thursday night. Open Road Films is distributing the film after acquiring it with Sony at Sundance this year.

"Dope" producers include Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams. It's expected to gross $7 million to $10 million this weekend, which would be a strong debut for a Sundance pick-up. 

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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