It pays to wait for Pixar sequels like “Incredibles 2”

When the last movie came out, DVDs were still in vogue.
When the last movie came out, DVDs were still in vogue.
Image: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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Pixar fans have waited 14 years to see Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, and the rest of the Incredibles family suit up again on the big screen. The much-anticipated follow up to the 2004 movie hits US theaters this weekend. It’s set to crush the debut record for animated films.

It’s already pacing ahead of the biggest opening for an animated film, which was Finding Dory, another Pixar sequel. The Incredibles 2 brought in an estimated $18.5 million domestically during previews on Thursday night, June 14, Deadline reportedFinding Dory‘s record-setting Thursday night haul for an animated film was $9.2 million in June 2016.

It pays for Pixar to take its time with sequels. The Disney-owned studio’s highest-grossing movies globally both left more than a decade between movies. Toy Story 3 came 11 years after its predecessor, and Finding Dory swam into theaters 13 years after the original, Finding Nemo. 

Adjusted for ticket-price inflation, Pixar sequels released 10 years or more after the last film in the franchise grossed the most domestically at the at the box office as well, Box Office Mojo data shows. The Cars sequels that audiences didn’t have to wait as long for were two of Pixar’s worst performing films, also adjusted for inflation.

The exception is Toy Story 2, Pixar’s first sequel, which came four years after and was equally as good, if not better, than the original. The movie was initially meant to be a straight-to-video release for Disney. But the Pixar team pushed for it to be released in theaters, which warrants a higher budget, so that it that would live up to the 1995 original, which was Pixar’s first movie and the first ever computer-animated feature, according to Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull’s book Creativity, Inc.

Pixar released six sequels or prequels prior to Incredibles 2, and has been producing them more regularly since 2010, four years after it was acquired by Disney. It now releases a sequel or prequel every year or two. Disney, which acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, has also released a Star Wars film per year since 2015, and scores of Marvel movies since acquiring the superhero movies studio in 2009.

The Incredibles 2 comes amidst a dearth of animated movies in the US theaters. The last was the disappointing Sherlock Gnomes in March. Pixar’s new movie also has the benefit of a summer release, when families have more time to visit theaters, and a title that will grab both families and nostalgic adults alike. It’s tracking toward a $174 million opening weekend, which would more than top Finding Dory‘s $135 million debut, according to Deadline. The studio is conservatively estimating $120-$140 million for the weekend.