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The Good Dinosaur is looking like Pixar's first box-office failure

The Good Dinosaur is looking like Pixar's first box-office failure

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In the volatile world of Hollywood box office performance, no studio has been more of a sure bet than Pixar — up until The Good Dinosaur, that is. As pointed out by Variety, the studio's latest film has been massively underperforming, first opening in second place to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 during its Thanksgiving opening weekend, and then suffering a fairly catastrophic (by Pixar standards) box office drop-off of over 60 percent this past weekend. By way of comparison, Pixar's movies usually drop less than 50 percent from their first weekend to the second, with many of the company's films often seeing a decline of less than 40 percent. That kind of sustained performance — usually generated by good word of mouth and repeat viewings — is what helps the studio's movies stick around and rack up their impressive box office results. The only other Pixar movie to experience the same kind of drop that Dinosaur did was the much-derided Cars 2 in 2011. That film went on to gross over $191 million in the US, but it was also building upon the awareness and goodwill generated by the original Cars.

According to Variety's report, The Good Dinosaur cost around $200 million, with Disney spending another $150 million on marketing costs. To break even, analysts estimate it will need to rake in around $500 million worldwide, but as of right now the film is sitting at just north of $131 million worldwide. There are some foreign territories still oustanding — The Good Dinosaur hasn't opened in China or Japan yet — but it's still a far cry for the performance of this year's Pixar hit Inside Out, which at this point in its life cycle had already raked in more than $180 million in the US alone. After 16 films, something almost certainly had to give, but given the consistency of Pixar's performance it's hard to not see the performance of Dinosaur as some sort of watershed moment in Pixar history.

Technically impressive but narratively underwhelming

In our review, we found The Good Dinosaur to be technically impressive and narratively underwhelming, and the film has certainly faced struggles on its way to theaters. The movie was originally started under the supervision of director Bob Peterson, who was then taken off the project in 2013 due to creative differences. Animator Peter Sohn took over directing duties, in a move similar to what happened on the 2012 film Brave. In the case, director Brenda Chapman was fired from the film after developing it for two years. Pixar is known for a rigorous creative process that puts films through countless iterations, but with the lackluster performance of Dinosaur, it may be a sign that the studio's new strategy of releasing multiple movies a year may be a little harder than it had originally thought.