Why Inside Out 2 is now the highest-grossing movie of 2024

Source: YouTube/Pixar

Joy. Anger. Envy. Anxiety. Embarrassment.

These emotions are familiar to people young and old, and experts say that multi-generational understanding helped propel Inside Out 2 to become the highest-grossing film of the year so far.

Just two weeks on from its cinema release, Variety reports the animated feature has drawn in $US724 million (more than $1 billion) globally, overtaking this year’s previous leader, Dune: Part Two.

Produced with a budget of $US200 million ($300 million), it’s fair to call the box office results of Inside Out 2 a resounding success.

Victoria University senior lecturer in screen media Marc C-Scott told The New Daily audiences were drawn in thanks to multiple factors, including the trust in animation studio Pixar built through decades of hit movies.

As a sequel released almost a decade after the original movie, Inside Out 2 also likely benefitted from nostalgia, with C-Scott noting groups of adults attending when he went to see the film.

The narrative being centred around different emotions also likely had a big part to play in the film’s success. 

Specifically, the character Anxiety (voiced by Maya Hawke) seemed to resonate with many adult viewers.

“[It] potentially opens a conversation between parents and children,” C-Scott said.

“‘What did you think about the film?’, then you can transition to conversations that you may want to have with your kids.

“The part in Inside Out 2 where Anxiety manipulates the imagination to project the worst-case future scenarios into the brain was far too real for me I’m afraid!” one person wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“Really this [film] is about … emotions personified,” Queensland University of Technology Digital Media Research Centre chief investigator Ruari Elkington told The New Daily.

“And we’ve got new emotions being added to this; the notion of anxiety … one of ennui.

“We always go to the cinema for an emotional engagement, and for this film, it’s quite literal. In many ways, they’re really holding up these emotions and saying, ‘This is coursing through all our minds.'”

Elkington said Inside Out 2 is also simply a good film enjoyable for all ages.

Inside Out 2‘s performance stands out in stark contrast to other films projected to be hits that failed to live up to box office hopes, such as Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.

Although the number of films hitting it big at the box office may be reducing over the years as more films are pushed onto streaming channels and cost-of-living pressures bite, Elkington emphasised the cinema industry is not on its last legs.

“The [Australian Bureau of Statistics] Census data tells us [going to the cinema is] the single most popular cultural activity in Australia,” he said.

“Films will come and bomb, films will come and have massive success, but cinema-going as a habit … has been alive and well for over 100 years in Australia.

“Whether it be … things like radio, to colour TV, to VHS, to DVD, to streaming, there’s always been this idea of cinema … going the way of the dodo. And I just haven’t seen that happening.”

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