Inside Out 2 & The Quiet Re-Emergence of the Family Movie

inside out 2
Inside Out 2 is a rebuttal to the idea that high ticket prices and concession costs are driving all or most families away from theaters. Photo: Courtesy of Disney+
Scott Mendelson
June 17, 2024

The $155 million domestic opening of Inside Out 2, which puts the Pixar sequel on track to dethrone Dune: Part Two ($712 million) as this year’s biggest global earner, appears to validate an axiom of the post-pandemic theatrical business: Overall box office may be down, but demand for family-friendly movies is as strong as ever. The big grossers this year, after all, are either franchise flicks, like Bad Boys: Ride or Die or outright family-targeted franchise offerings—Godzilla x Kong ($570 million), Kung Fu Panda 4 ($541 million), Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes ($375 million thus far), and The Garfield Movie ($217 million and counting). 

This is the conclusion of a strange journey. Moviegoing obviously became less of a casual activity in the mid-2010s amid rising ticket prices and increasingly affordable home theater equipment. Meanwhile, the domestic box office centralized around a handful of event films per year. The top six domestic earners represented 16 percent of the total box office in 2011. By 2018, the market share for the top six respective grossers amounted to 26 percent of the annual pie.