‘Incredibles 2’ Sells a Record-Setting $180 Million in Tickets

Wither Pixar? Not on Elastigirl’s watch.

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Brooks Barnes
, New York Times

Wither Pixar? Not on Elastigirl’s watch.

“Incredibles 2” arrived to a jaw-dropping $180 million in ticket sales at North American theaters over the weekend — roughly 30 percent more than box-office analysts had predicted early last week — giving Pixar a confidence boost following the forced departure of its creative chief, John Lasseter, earlier this month. “Incredibles 2” received an A-plus grade from ticket buyers in CinemaScore exit polls.

The opening total set a box-office record for an animated release. The touting of sales records by movie studios is usually meaningless spin; they don’t take inflation into account. But not in this case: Even after accounting for higher ticket prices, “Incredibles 2” beat Hollywood’s previous record-holder, “Shrek the Third” (DreamWorks Animation), which collected an adjusted $151 million in 2007, according to comScore data.

The thundering turnout for “Incredibles 2” reflected pent-up demand. The film returns the superheroic Mr. Incredible and his quick-thinking wife, Elastigirl, to big screens after a 14-year hiatus — this time with her in the forefront. Animated movies have also been in short supply, in part because of an ongoing retrenchment at DreamWorks, which was sold to NBCUniversal in 2016. The last animated blockbuster was Pixar’s “Coco,” which arrived in November and took in $807 million worldwide.

“Incredbiles 2,” which cost Pixar’s corporate parent, the Walt Disney Co., at least $300 million to make and market worldwide, played more like a broad action film than a PG-rated cartoon. About 25 percent of the audience was over the age of 35, according to Disney.

“The ‘Avengers’ crowd went to see this movie — it wasn’t just 7-year-old kids,” Greg Foster, the filmed entertainment chief of Imax, the large-format theater chain, said by telephone Sunday morning. Foster said that “Incredibles 2” sold about $14.1 million in tickets at Imax theaters in the United States and Canada over the weekend, setting an all-time Imax animation record.

Foster credited the movie’s writer-director, Brad Bird, for delivering a sequel that received a rapturous response from critics and positive word-of-mouth on social media. Foster also noted that the “Incredibles” characters are now favorites for multiple generations: People who saw the original film as children are now parents.

The original “Incredibles,” also directed and written by Bird, arrived in 2004 to about $96 million in today’s dollars and generated $860 million total. It won the 2005 Oscar for best animated feature.

Disney needed “Incredibles 2” to succeed. Although it has dominated the box office in recent years, Disney suffered a major setback last month, when its expensive “Solo: A Star Wars Story” crashed and burned. After four weeks of release, “Solo” has taken in about $193 million — not chump change, but the equivalent of a bomb by “Star Wars” standards.

Then Disney announced June 8 that Lasseter would not return from a “sabbatical” that started in October, when he stepped down citing unspecified “missteps” that made some staffers feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.” Lasseter co-founded Pixar and has been the creative force behind the billion-dollar “Toy Story,” “Cars” and “Frozen” franchises.

“Incredibles 2” had little competition at the domestic box office over the weekend. (It collected a promising $51.5 million in limited release overseas, according to comScore.) Second place went to “Ocean’s 8” (Warner), which collected about $20 million, for a two-week total in North America of $79.2 million. Warner also had the third-place film, “Tag,” which arrived to $14.6 million in estimated ticket sales.

An R-rated comedy with an ensemble cast, “Tag” cost about $28 million to make and at least $30 million to market. Warner hopes the film will perform like “Game Night,” which arrived to a muted $17 million in February but quietly generated nearly $70 million over its run. Like that movie, “Tag” received a B-plus CinemaScore.

Also of box-office note: Another superhero, at least to octogenarians and the political left, has breathed life into the documentary marketplace: “RBG,” a Participant Media and Magnolia Pictures film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, crossed the $10 million mark, one of the best results for a film of its kind in years. Participant supported “RBG” with an aggressive effort to tie the film about the Supreme Court justice to social issues including gender parity, ultimately engaging more than 400 organizations.

“RBG” is the first of two films about Ginsburg that Participant has planned for this year. The second, a biographical drama called “On the Basis of Sex,” will arrive via Focus Features in November. It stars Felicity Jones.

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