LOS ANGELES • Disney's domination of the box office strengthened over the weekend as Toy Story 4 easily topped box-office charts.
The fourth entry in Pixar's animated series collected US$118 million (S$160 million) in ticket sales when it debuted in 4,575 North American theatres.
While that haul is significantly below expectations, which anticipated a start near US$140 million, it is hardly a disappointment for the critically acclaimed movie.
Despite glowing reviews, boxoffice prognosticators suggest Toy Story 4 underperformed because audiences were wary about the need for another chapter after Toy Story 3 (2010) wrapped up the series so perfectly.
The domestic debut is only a slight jump on that entry, which bowed nearly a decade ago with US$110 million. However, strong word of mouth will likely keep Toy Story 4 in theatres long throughout the summer.
Toy Story 4 ranks as the fourth-biggest launch for an animated movie, behind Incredibles 2 (2018, US$182 million), Finding Dory (2016, US$135 million) and Shrek The Third (2007, US$121 million).
It is also only the third movie this year to cross US$100 million in receipts during its opening weekend. The other two -Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame - were both Disney releases as well.
Overseas, Toy Story 4 picked up US$120 million from 37 international territories for a global start of US$238 million.
Directed by Josh Cooley, Toy Story 4 reunites Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and Bo Peep (Annie Potts) with a band of plastic heroes. New to the gang is Forky, an anxietyridden spork voiced by Tony Hale, who helps teach them what it means to be a toy.
In a distant second place, United Artists' Child's Play earned US$14 million when it opened in 3,007 venues. That represents a solid start for the modestly budgeted horror film, a remake of the 1988 thriller about an evil doll, Chucky. Aubrey Plaza stars in Child's Play and Mark Hamill voices the creepy voodoo doll. It cost US$10 million to produce.
The past weekend's other new release did not fare as well.
Liongate's Anna launched with a dismal US$3.5 million from 2,114 screens. Sasha Luss, Luke Evans and Helen Mirren star in the film.
Falling not far behind Child's Play is another reboot, Disney's Aladdin. The live-action musical pocketed US$12 million in its fifth weekend of release, boosting its domestic total to US$288 million.
In fourth place, Sony's Men In Black: International (MIB: International) made US$10 million during its second weekend in theatres, marking a steep 65 per cent decline from its inaugural run. The fourth MIB film, starring Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson, has generated US$52 million to date.
Rounding out the top five is Universal and Illumination's The Secret Life Of Pets 2, which added US$10.2 million to its North American tally. The animated sequel has grossed US$117 million since debuting three weeks ago.
Overall, ticket sales continue to pace well behind last year's strong summer season.
As big-budget sequels such as Dark Phoenix and MIB: International bring back disappointing receipts, the box office has dropped 6 per cent below last year's record, according to research firm Comscore.