Onward Conjures Up First-Place Finish

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No quest worth its salt is ever easy.

Just ask the folks behind Onward. Pixar’s latest flick had to dodge controversy, leap competitors and wrestle the pesky panic over the coronavirus in order to reach the hallowed box-office mountaintop. But reach it Onward did—planting its tattered flag to flap over every other movie in the land.

Sure, Onward didn’t finish its quest without a few scars. The film earned “just” $40 million domestically, which was below what many had expected. It collected $28 million overseas, too. With coronavirus fears growing in the United States and still blanketing much of the movie-watching planet, one might expect Onward’s box-office run to log lower numbers than it otherwise would have. Still, a win is a win. Onward will continue to move forward in the coming weeks.

We continue to see plenty of sightings of The Invisible Man at the box office as well. Last weekend’s No. 1 pic slipped to second, earning $15.2 million in North America. It’s now taken in $52.7 million.

The weekend’s other big new release, The Way Back, finished way back in third place with $8.5 million. Ben Affleck’s R-rated inspirational flick about a high school basketball coach struggling with alcoholism also slid below expectations. But the season’s not over yet.

The blue protagonist from Sonic the Hedgehog continues to gather up the green, sweeping up another $8 million to push its total domestic tally to $140.8 million. That makes it the year’s second highest-grossing movie (Box Office Mojo lists 1917 above it, but the war flick was released in 2019). It’s earned $154.8 million overseas, too, giving it a worldwide take of just about $295.6 million. Talk about your Sonic boom.

The Call of the Wild closes the book on the weekend’s top five with $7 million.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

charitysplace 18 days ago
I saw Emma instead of any of these. And I may see it again this weekend -- that or I Still Believe. I'll also likely see A Quiet Place II.

Onward just looks... weird.
Edna Konrad 19 days ago
I feel like movies in general are going to suffer for a bit. Corona virus really seems to have people scared, and more an more cases are showing up in America. A lot of theaters are already closed down in Asian countries. It's going to be a struggle. I feel bad for movies from smaller or independent studios. Pixar at least has the coffers of Disney to fall back on (though it probably won't need to), other studios will have to work hard to recuperate.
The Mouse Of Non 18 days ago
Listen, the coronavirus ain't gonna stop me from seeing A Quiet Place Part 2 or Black Widow. I don't care if I get the virus or not, I'm seeing those movies.
Edna Konrad 18 days ago
Good for you. I'm probably gonna see Onward as soon as I recover from my cold (or was it the Corona Virus??).

But still, a lot of people aren't like us. Especially in countries where the outbreak is worse.
The Mouse Of Non 18 days ago
Yep that's true!! The global market is a lot bigger than people realize...
Anonymous 16 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Mouse, I've got some very bad news regarding AQP2.
The Mouse Of Non 16 days ago
@FCG 

Yep, I saw. Pretty ticked off about it. They better release it soon or else I'm gonna be real mad. John Krasinski is supposed to go on SNL that weekend too so they better not cancel that too.
Anonymous 19 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Adjusted for inflation, that is Pixar's worst opening to date. Maybe putting in a lesbian cyclops wasn't such a good idea.

Joking aside, I feel like Onward is failing because of its lousy marketing. The whole film just had a DreamWorks feel to it (and that's rarely a good thing for people like me) and they kept showing the same joke of the older brother getting shrunk over and over again. 

Also, Soul, another Pixar movie, is coming out this June, and it looks WAY more interesting with its teaser trailer alone. Depending on if Soul is a success, this will be the third time Pixar releases two movies in one year with only one of them being a success. The Good Dinosaur bombed back in 2015 while Inside Out made money hand over fist, and the same thing happened in 2017 with Cars 3 and Coco.

So I think the lesson here for Pixar is to only release one movie a year from now on. Pixar movies are almost always better than most animated movies, and when they release more than one in a single year, a Pixar movie feels like less of an event.
E Hayes 19 days ago
I haven't seen Onward, but in regards to Pixar unifying and doing one movie a year in order to make it be more like Pixar, this would just decrease the number of Pixar movies, it wouldn't cause them to automatically be better.  They split their teams and they work on each movie an average of 4 years.  According to IMDB, the Onwards director directed Monsters University for Pixar.  However, Soul is directed by Pete Docter, who has been with Pixar from the beginning. 
Also, if Pixar animators aren't busy working on their own movies, they wind up getting drafted by Disney Animation to work on Disney projects since Pixar is  owned by Disney.  If you read the credits from Disney animated movies, there are a number of Pixar employees in every one.  So, reducing the number of Pixar films would just decrease whatever factor is left that makes Pixar different from Disney.

Also, if you want to keep Pixar from being like Dreamworks, making only one movie a year is actually going to make them more like Dreamworks.  Dreamworks has made only one movie a year since HTTYD2 did not do as well as they'd hoped.  And, yes, technically they released 2 movies last year, but Abominable was only overseen by Dreamworks.  Dreamworks has wound up releasing Netflix cartoons with much of the animation outsourced because of this.  If Pixar only made 1 movie a year, then they'd be pulled on the same path of making cartoons that are good, but don't have the budget to pull off expensive and experimental animations. 

Also, having more than one team working on one film at a time is the Disney way.  According to the Bancroft Brothers' Animation Podcast, in the 90's there were animation studios in California, Florida, and France.  Apparently, Disney sent the stories that they thought would be the best successes to the California studio, but it turned out that Florida and France also pulled off blockbuster movies as well because the different teams wanted to prove themselves.  So, predictions are not always accurate.
Anonymous 19 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

When I say that Onward looked like a DreamWorks movie, I meant that it looked like a movie that appealed mostly for kids, unlike most of Pixar which can be enjoyed by everyone.

And DreamWorks used to release 2 or even 3 movies a year, while Pixar up until 2015 would only release one movie a year. And so far, every time they make more than one movie a year, one movie turns out better than the other. I'd rather have 1 great movies than two that are just ok.

Also, you're wrong; DreamWorks released Kong Fu Panda 3 and Trolls back in 2016.
Anonymous 19 days ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

So what's your point? Onward is still underperforming, and Soul still looks way more interesting. While we'll have to wait and see if it's a financial success, I'd bet that it will be.

All I'm saying is that if Pixar wants to avoid making more movies that make them loose money, then making more than one movie a year may not be the best strategy. Pixar has so far to release a movie that was their only movie for the year and didn't loose money, so I personally think they should go back to that strategy; it made the release of their movies feel more special.
Chuck Anziulewicz 19 days ago
I saw "The Invisible Man" over the weekend, bookended by two female friends.Throughout the film the three of us were, by turns, yelling and cringing and screaming and flinching. The movie was almost unbearably intense at times, and the unpleasantness Elizabeth Moss' character had to suffer would drive anyone to madness, but the payoff was worth it. The movie is also at times quite bloody and violent. I wouldn't recommend it to my mom. But for moviegoers who like this sort of thing, 9 out of 10 stars.