In box office holdover news not related to Top Gun: Maverick, Universal and Amblin’s Jurassic World Dominion continued to play like the Tomorrow Never Dies of summer 2022 (pulling in terrific grosses even while being overshadowed by a zeitgeist-dominating blockbuster). The $185 million dino threequel earned another $26.4 million (-55%) to bring its domestic total to $302.775 million in 17 days. The drop is close enough to Fallen Kingdom (-53% for a $28 million third-weekend gross) to presume that audiences mostly like it at least as much as the last one, even if it’ll have to settle for a “mere” $350-$375 million domestic finish.
Colin Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael’s franchise caper earned $42.9 million overseas for a new $443 million foreign and $746.6 million worldwide cume. It might not crack $1 billion, especially with China delivering half of what it did for the last two films ($227 million and $267 million), but no one at Universal will weep for a sad/shameful $900 million-plus global finish. Speaking of which, this summer is almost certain to have five $700 million-plus grossers (including Minions: The Rise of Gru and Thor: Love and Thunder) and we *could* have five $900 million-plus earners if Thor 4 plays like Doctor Strange 2 and Minions 2 plays like a Despicable Me sequel.
Alas, Walt Disney’s Lightyear will not be cracking $700 million. The well-reviewed but (relative to Pixar) indifferently received Toy Story spin-off earned just $17.7 million in its second domestic weekend. That’s a record-for-Pixar drop of 65%. Lightyear’s “falling without style” drop single-handedly prevented theaters from getting the first “the entire top five grosses $20 million each” weekend since July of 2016. The $200 million sci-fi actioner has earned $88.7 million domestic (suggesting a total just over/under The Good Dinosaur’s $127 million finish) and $63.2 million overseas for a $153 million global cume.
With only Japan left for next weekend, it’s looking like the Chris Evans-led toon will struggle to match Encanto’s $255 million global cume. If Minions: The Rise of Gru opens noticeably better next weekend (after Sing 2 legged out to $400 million), then Disney won’t be able to claim Covid-curve hardship for animated films. Yes, I do think Disney normalizing the notion of big Disney blockbusters being available for “free” on Disney+ (either instead of theaters or very soon after theaters) is doing exactly the long-term damage we all feared it would do.
Nor can anyone claim that the right-wing nonsense over the film’s non-sensual kiss between two married grandmothers is a major factor. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (featuring a gay co-lead in Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez and two gay moms) just passed Captain America: Civil War and Iron Man 3 domestically ($409 million) while passing $950 million worldwide. Jurassic World Dominion features DeWanda Wise in a major supporting role as a Lesbian ass-kicker with a thing for redheads. I’m guessing Tessa Thompson’s (presumed) flirtations with Natalie Portman won’t hurt Thor: Love and Thunder one bit.
Maybe audiences didn’t want a disconnected origin story prequel for a franchise’s co-lead with the actor swapped out for a younger performer in a generic outer-space action dramedy. But enough about Solo: A Star Wars Story. In a normal world, such a cynical IP exploitation going down in flames would teach the company/studio not to try that nonsense again. In a normal world, quality aside (Lightyear, Solo, The Good Dinosaur and Cars 3 are all three-star entertainments), Inside Out and Coco being huge hits while The Good Dinosaur and Cars 3 flop would teach Pixar a valuable lesson.
However, in a world where A) Disney may yet buy the nonsense about right-wing backlash (First Man had many American flags) and B) Disney toss all animated films to Disney+, the commercial failure of a “quasi-deserved to bomb” cash-in can still have terrible consequences. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to the filmmakers who made the pretty good, quite thoughtful and visually stunning Lightyear. It’s also not fair to the filmmakers who never got to see Raya and the Last Dragon, Turning Red and Soul crush conventional wisdom about what makes a global theatrical blockbuster, but that’s where we are in 2022.