'Toy Story 4' tops weekend box office

The new Disney Pixar film "Toy Story 4" brought an end to the summer movie season's rough start with a $118 million opening weekend. The film debuted below expectations of $140 million, but still finished well ahead of the competition.

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Lagging behind "Toy Story 4" were "Child's Play" ($14.1 million), "Aladdin" ($12.2 million), "Men in Black: International" ($10.8 million) and "The Secret Life of Pets 2" ($10.3 million).

The opening of "Toy Story 4," according to studio estimates Sunday, ranks as the fourth highest animated film opening ever, not accounting for inflation. Above it are 2018's "Incredibles 2" ($182 million), 2016's "Finding Dory" ($135 million), and 2007's "Shrek the Third" ($121 million).

The film also comes in as the year's third-largest debut, only trailing behind a pair of other Disney releases: "Avengers: Endgame" and "Captain Marvel."

The sequel, which introduces the child-made plaything Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) to the voice cast that includes Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, played in 4,575 theaters across North America. It also grossed $120 million internationally, including a modest $13.4 million in China, the world's second-largest film market, according to data from Comscore.

The film's opening follows a string of disappointing sequels including "Dark Phoenix," "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" and "Men in Black: International."

Contrary to those films, "Toy Story 4" received great reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 98 percent while audiences gave it an A CinemaScore.

Cathleen Taff, the distribution chief for Disney, said the company was thrilled with the opening and praised Pixar's high standards.

"The Pixar team has always been disciplined about making sure they have a compelling story to tell, and that is especially true when it comes to sequels if you look at their past," said Taff. "Their process of sort of going through the rigor of making sure that this is a story people want told, the end result speaks for itself."

Characters Bo Peep, from left, Woody, Forky, Jessie and Buzz Lightytear pose at the world premiere of "Toy Story 4" on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, at the El Capitan in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

In a summer season that's running 6.5 percent off the pace of last year, according to Comscore, many had positioned "Toy Story 4" as a surefire savior, due, in part, to the enviable track record of Disney and Pixar. Instead, the weekend was down 27.2 percent from the same frame last year.

Although the film opened below expectations, most other studios would love to have a film underperform to $118 million, with an expectation of long-term playability.

"The numbers being bandied about out there pre-weekend were certainly much higher than the number that it came in with," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. "But if we bring it down to earth and put some perspective on this, it was still a franchise-high debut. It was a global opening of $238 million."

Outside Sony's upcoming "Spider-Man: Far From Home," ''Toy Story 4" has no family-friendly competition until Disney's own "Lion King" remake opens July 19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report