Coronavirus Fears fail to derail Pixar’s “Onward” as it meets Disney’s Projections for the Box Office Debut Weekend
The animated movie does indeed move forward with successful numbers to prove it
Disney-Pixar’s latest movie, “Onward,” hit theaters on Thursday, March 5th and despite it coming out at the height of coronavirus hysteria, it managed to hold its own at the box office, meet critical expectations, and pave the way for a surplus and possibly the House-of-Mouse’s first 2020 blockbuster.
“Onward” had its initial premiere at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival on February 21st. Leading up to its worldwide release, however, some speculated that the film would be postponed due to the coronavirus, which has been spreading rapidly and keeping folks out of movie theaters worldwide. While most theaters remain open and operating in the US, many theaters in China have closed their doors because of the virus. Considering that Pixar’s last film (“Toy Story 4”) made over $8 million at the Chinese box office during its opening weekend last June, one could understand why “Onward” might get pushed back.
Nevertheless, “Onward” persevered and raked in over $40 million in its opening weekend, right about on par for what critics predicted. This may be a far cry from “Toy Story 4” or “Incredibles 2,” Pixar’s last two films that respectively made over $120 million and $180 during their openings. However, “Onward” expected more modest earnings from the get-go.
The movie is Pixar’s first non-sequel release since 2017’s “Coco,” which earned $50 million its opening weekend, only marginally better than “Onward’s” current figures. Unlike “Finding Dory,” “Cars 2,” “Incredibles 2,” or “Toy Story 4,” “Onward” is an entirely original film and has to herald in audiences without pre-existing IP doing the heavy lifting. On top of that, it also has to deal with the virus.
COVID-19 has already delayed the release of the upcoming James Bond movie, “No Time To Die.” MGM Studios pushed the opening back from April to November in hopes that the virus will pass and theaters will be back in full business by then. Some predict that other potential blockbusters such as “Mulan,” “Black Widow” and “F9” will also get delayed due to the virus.
Nevertheless, “Onward” stuck to its original release date and while figures might’ve been higher had Pixar waited a few months, the movie had a respectable opening all the same. Furthermore, the movie still has additional markets to debut in such as Italy, Korea, and Japan. Also, given that “Onward” is a family film, its earnings will likely increase over the next few weeks as more kids get out on spring break. Thus, we can expect an upsurge in “Onward’s” already reasonable box office success. It will likely be Disney’s first bonafide Blockbuster of the year, and earn the studio a surplus on the film’s estimated $100 million budget.
“Onward” is directed by Dan Scanlon, a Pixar veteran with a previous directorial credit for “Monster’s University” and creative contributions with the studio that date all the way back to 2006’s “Cars.” The movie is about two adolescent elf brothers, Ian and Barley, going on a quest to bring their late father back from the dead using sorcery. Marvel stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt lend their voices to the two protagonists. The cast also includes Julia Louie-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, and many more, all voicing mythical creatures in the movie’s fantastical (yet familiar) world.
A strong and deeply original addition to Pixar’s impressive filmography, “Onward” is touching, funny, memorable, and sweet, Given the studio’s success with the Academy and animation’s uncertain outlook for 2020, “Onward” might just be our first Oscar-winning movie to come out this year.
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