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Toy Story 3 Box Office: Record-Breaking Pixar Debut

Toy Story 3 Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear Woody Buzz LightyearToy Story 3 with Woody (Tom Hanks), Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (Ned Beatty), and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).
  • Toy Story 3 box office: Maybe domestic audiences aren’t all that sick of sequels. On its way to becoming the biggest domestic release of 2010, Lee Unkrich’s computer-animated comedy adventure has shattered Pixar’s opening-weekend record.

Toy Story 3 box office: Pixar’s domestic opening-weekend record shattered

June 18–20 weekend box office: Directed by Lee Unkrich, Walt Disney Studios/Pixar’s computer-animated comedy adventure Toy Story 3 beat Disney’s (ridiculously modest) estimates, grossing $110.3 million from 4,028 North American (U.S. and Canada only) theaters as per figures found at boxofficemojo.com.

Partly thanks to inflation and higher 3D/IMAX ticket prices (which can add up to 40 percent to the cost of a “regular” movie ticket), Toy Story 3 has become Pixar’s first animated feature to pass the $100 million mark on its first three days out. Previous Pixar blockbusters like Andrew Stanton’s Finding Nemo and Brad Bird’s The Incredibles opened with a little more than $70 million – at a time when movie tickets were cheaper and 3D flicks were a thing of the distant past.

That’s the good news for Toy Story 3. The not so good news is that this $200 million production disappointed pundits who had been expecting an opening as high as $125 million.

Disney, for its part, claimed to have been “expecting” an $85–$90 million debut, but let’s be real: DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek Forever After may have underwhelmed analysts with its $70.8 million opening a few weeks ago, but Shrek the Third took in $121 million on its debut weekend three years ago.

Internationally, Toy Story 3 scored $44.8 million in 25 markets.

In the Toy Story 3 voice cast: Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, 1993; Forrest Gump, 1994), Laurie Metcalf, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, and Oscar nominees Joan Cusack (In & Out, 1997) and Ned Beatty (Network, 1976).

Top global blockbuster of 2010

Update: Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 ultimately collected $415 million domestically and $652 million (possibly incomplete) internationally. Worldwide total: $1.067 billion – thus guaranteeing sizable profits.

Its top international markets were Japan ($126.7 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($116.6 million), Mexico ($59.4 million), France ($40.5 million), Spain ($33.2 million), Brazil ($23.6 million), Italy ($18.9 million), Germany ($17.1 million), Argentina ($16 million), South Korea ($12.2 million), Hong Kong ($11.5 million), Colombia ($10.6 million), and Chile ($8.8 million). Note: Individual figures for Australia are incomplete.

One of only two movies (alongside Avatar) to earn more than $400 million in the U.S. and Canada in 2010, Toy Story 3 turned out to be the year’s top release both domestically and internationally, ahead of:

Admittedly, Avatar earned more money than any other movie in 2010 – $466.1 million domestically, nearly $2 billion internationally – but James Cameron’s 3D extravaganza came out in mid-December 2009. (International figures include Dec. 16–31, 2009.)

The most successful animated movie ever?

In the domestic market, Toy Story 3 is currently the eighth most successful animated feature ever (as long as one chooses to ignore inflation), trailing only Incredibles 2, The Lion King (2019), Finding Dory, Frozen II, Shrek 2, Toy Story 4, and The Lion King (1994).

Now, if Box Office Mojo figures are accurate, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs grossed $66.6 million in the U.S. and Canada during its initial run in 1937–38. At 2010 average (U.S.) ticket prices, Walt Disney’s blockbuster would have scored approximately $1.33 billion in the domestic market – or nearly $300 million more than what Toy Story 3 earned worldwide at the time.


Toy Story 3 Box Office” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “Toy Story 3 Box Office: Record-Breaking Pixar Debut” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about Toy Story 3 and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.

Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear Toy Story 3 image: Pixar | Disney Enterprises.

Toy Story 3 Box Office: Record-Breaking Pixar Debut” last updated in October 2022.

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1 comment

Terrence -

Ahh..the common “wet blanket” tactic whenever a movie sets some record: Bring up the adjusted for inflation numbers.

I don’t dispute that Gone With the Wind and Snow White will reign supreme if we rank by adjusted grosses. But guess what, that’s not how the industry tallies things. They go by raw gross. You can’t punish today’s movies for inflation, 3D surcharges, and Imax by somewhat placing an asterisk on their numbers. I’d like to see the movies of yesteryear be released in today’s world. I’m confident the majority of them won’t come anywhere near those admission totals in today’s highly competitive marketplace wherein moviegoin isn’t much of a novelty, but more so just another entertainment option for many.

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