|Scene from The Good Dinosaur|
Last week was a major milestone in Pixar's lengthy history. On November 22, it marked the 20th anniversary of its big screen debut with Toy Story. It was also the release of the studio's second feature of 2015 with The Good Dinosaur. While initially scheduled for last year, the film was pushed back for various production reasons. While Pixar's other 2015 film Inside Out embodies a loving tribute to Pixar's ability to manipulate our emotional responses to their films, The Good Dinosaur seemed to be part of the other camp. While still considered critically better, the film was considered to have more in relation to the lowbrow Cars side of the studio than the intellect and heart of Toy Story. However, there's one thing that The Good Dinosaur shares with Toy Story: it just had the lowest grossing wide release opening for the studio since the original 1995 film.
There's a lot of factors to include when considering The Good Dinosaur's low opening. For starters, the film opened on a Wednesday, as opposed to the regular Friday. This was to attract audiences who were looking for a break from Thanksgiving. In theory, this adds a significant boost to the film's weekend debut. However, the film still failed to be nearly as successful as Inside Out, even with those few extra days.
The Good Dinosaur opened with a total of $39.1 million over the weekend. If you add in the total between Wednesday and Thursday, that total equates to $55 million. Comparatively, Inside Out made $90 million on its opening weekend in June. Depending on which numbers you go with, The Good Dinosaur either did better than just Toy Story ($29.4, not adjusted for inflation), or just a little better than Ratatouille ($47 million). Either way, those numbers aren't the most encouraging for a big studio film. Was it the bad reviews that hurt it? Maybe it was the lack of buzz outside of the adorable commercials leading up to it.
It could also just be that there was a lot to reckon with regarding The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. While that film was considered to have performed worse than its predecessors, it still has withstood middling reviews and belief that it wouldn't do so well. While it only made half of its previous weekend, it still managed to lead an otherwise unimpressive weekend. Even crowd favorite Creed didn't do so hot, opening in third with $29.6 million. While these films likely will survive thanks to word of mouth, there's still the major weekends ahead that may pose a threat to The Good Dinosaur rebounding.
It isn't entirely clear if The Good Dinosaur will go on to have one of Pixar's more disappointing runs. All that is known is that it's a little disappointing that on the week of the studio's 20th anniversary, they end up with one of their lesser performers. One can hope that this was more bad timing than a sign of the studio starting to wane (hardly true if you look at Inside Out). However, the dream of having two great Pixar movies compete at the Oscars doesn't look likely to happen. Considering it isn't the first film of the season to under perform (Steve Jobs), there's an interesting question to ask. Will this season be full of flops, or will it just look a lot different with films that were successes in different ways? I am very curious to see how that goes.