Not that Disney is complaining. Buoyed by rapturous critical notices, "Inside Out" scored the second best debut ever for Pixar, behind only "Toy Story 3's" $110.3 million opening, and the highest opening weekend ever for an original, non-sequel property, passing "Avatar's" $77 million start. The brainy family film picked up $91 million from 3,946 playdates. That was a significant jump on the $60 million-plus opening that Disney had projected.
"Inside Out," which unfolds largely inside the mind of a young girl struggling to come to terms with her family's move, represented a big gamble for Pixar. Produced for $175 million, it had a concept that defied an easy sales pitch and could have gone soaring over the heads of younger moviegoers. Instead, critics praised the film as ranking alongside previous Pixar greats such as "Up" and "Wall-E" in pairing cinematic daring with emotional uplift.
It wasn't just reviews. Production delays on "The Good Dinosaur" meant that 2014 was bereft of a Pixar release, putting a two-year gap between the animation studio's films and driving interest in its latest title.
There was one casualty at the box office. Open Road's "Dope" did not perform as well as the studio had hoped. The Sundance Film Festival favorite sparked a bidding war when it debuted in Park City, but the picture's off-beat sensibility (its a comedy about nerds living in South Central), was difficult to convey to audiences. "Dope" pulled in a disappointing $6 million from 2,002 locations, good enough for a fifth place finish.
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In third place, Fox's "Spy" showed some staying power, slipping 29% to $10.5 million and bringing its stateside total to $74.4 million. Disaster film "San Andreas" scored fourth position after snagging $8.2 million, pushing its domestic haul to $132.2 million.
Among art house releases, new indie distributor The Orchard kicked off the sex comedy "The Overnight" to an estimated $61,523 this weekend on three screens in New York and Los Angeles, for a per-screen average of $20,507. The company plans to expand the film next weekend and will have it playing on more than 300 screens by the July 4th weekend.