With Jurassic World having made its bow, we’re really pretty much done with the monster releases for this summer. Oh, there are big movies still to come — I think Minions is going to tear it up, for instance, making 2015 even better for Universal — but I don’t see anything even coming close to the record grosses we saw for Age of Ultron and Jurassic World. Of course, we could still see some $100 million opening weekends along the way, which goes to show how much the box office has exploded that we can shrug something like that off as not a big deal. But when you’ve got behemoths stomping around in the $180-$200 million range, well, $100 million just doesn’t look all that impressive anymore. And to think at one time passing $100 million in total gross made you an out and out phenomenon. Now, it’s barely squeaking by for a major release.
I imagine the makers of Dope would be thrilled to even come close to that mark though. The comedy/drama was one of the big debuts at Sundance this year, and now it’s opening on some 2,000 screens. That won’t let it compete with the dinosaurs and the super-heroes, but it’ll probably let it percolate along as a summer sleeper, especially if it’s as good as word of mouth says it is. It’s also refreshing to see a coming-of-age film that normally would have been the province of white suburban kids instead be told through the eyes of young urban minorities. Anything that gives us a depiction that isn’t feeding into the “potential thug in the making” narrative so many want to apply to African-American youth is a good thing.
While Dope will be happy with modest success, Pixar, as it does with nearly everything, is operating at a much more elevated level. But actually, there’s a lot riding on Inside Out. While it’s hard to call a studio whose last four films have grossed a combined $1.1 billion over the last five years stumbling, there are more than a few who would say Pixar’s been in a slump creatively. Toy Story 3 is beloved in some circles, but I see it as the weakest of the trilogy. Cars 2 was a toy commercial (albeit an incredibly successful, judging by how popular the property remains with kids). Brave I think is better than its reputation, but I’m still baffled by the praise for Monsters University, which was perfectly fine but not up to Pixar’s usual standards. Pixar really could use an undisputed home run right now, and all indications are Inside Out is it. It’s currently sitting at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the reviews have been downright rapturous in some places. It’s the kind of high concept story — the emotions in a young girl’s head going on a quest to retrieve her memories — that Pixar made its bones with in its early years. The trailers have been dynamite, and I’m more excited about a Pixar film than I have been since Up. Here’s hoping they don’t let me down.
There’s no doubt Inside Out will open big; the question is how big versus Jurassic World‘s ongoing rampage? Some are saying Inside Out could cost Jurassic World a record-tying/breaking $100 million second weekend (The Avengers had no comparable competition in its second weekend). Others look at the torrid pace Jurassic World has been on during the week — it’s been breaking threshold records practically every day — and say $100 million is a sure thing. Universal has been stealing Disney’s thunder in the theme park world of late, and with the disappointment of Tomorrowland coupled with the meteoric success of Jurassic World, Disney sure would love to steal some it back. I don’t think it’s happening though; Inside Out won’t embarrass anybody, but Jurassic World is a bona fide phenomenon now. It’ll definitely win the weekend, so Disney will have to be content with keeping it from breaking yet another Avengers‘ record. Then again, you’ll likely be hearing a lot more about Inside Out come awards time than you will Jurassic World. Which I’m sure Universal will absolutely be crying into their $2 billion over.