The Disney magic that made 'Incredibles 2' a hit: animation and superheroes

How Disney turns old stories into box office gold
How Disney turns old stories into box office gold

"Crushes," "shatters," "smashes."

No, those aren't adjectives used to describe Elastigirl fighting the evil Screenslaver in "Incredibles 2." Those are the words used in the media to describe the film's record-breaking opening weekend.

The highly anticipated sequel, which features Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter as voices for the parents of a superhero family, nabbed an estimated $182.7 million domestically this weekend, a record opening for animated film.

"Incredibles 2" was setup for big success thanks in part to an opening on the family friendly Father's Day weekend and glowing reviews from movie critics. But why did it break records and box office expectations, beating "Finding Dory" by nearly $50 million on its opening weekend? One reason could be because "Incredibles 2" hit the blockbuster sweet spot for Disney: animation and superheroes.

"'Incredibles 2' perfectly combined Disney's two greatest areas of expertise, and the results were irresistible to audiences who have come to trust that nobody delivers these genres like Disney," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.

Since its inception, Disney has been synonymous with animation. The studio made seven of the top ten highest-grossing animated films of all time, including four in the top five, according to comScore (SCOR). That includes hits from Disney Animation such as "Zootopia" and "Frozen" and "Finding Dory" and "Toy Story 3" from Pixar, which Disney acquired in 2006.

Disney has in recent years added superhero films to its content arsenal.

The company cornered the superhero market after acquiring Marvel Studios in 2009, racking up a string of record-breaking hits. The studio produced six of the top ten highest grossing superhero films of all time, including four in the top five.

"Incredibles 2" played to both of Disney's core audiences.

incredibles 2 family
"Incredibles 2" played to both of Disney's core genres: Animation and superheroes.

"'Incredibles' is a superhero movie and a kid-friendly animated flick," wrote Forbes' Scott Mendelson. "All it had to do was not be terrible."

"Incredibles 2" also tapped into moviegoers' sense of nostalgia. The original "Incredibles" was a big hit with when it was released in 2004, so anticipation has been building for a sequel over the past 14 years.

Dergarabedian cited another reason for "Incredible 2's" incredible success.

Related: 'Incredibles 2' crushes animation box office record

"Adding to the excitement, a dearth of animated family fare in this early summer marketplace created a pent-up demand that was clearly underestimated," Dergarabedian added. "The result was the biggest animated debut by a country mile."

Disney is sticking to what it does best for the rest of its summer with Marvel's "Ant-Man and the Wasp" coming out next month and with "Christopher Robin," a live action film that includes animated CGI characters based on "Winnie the Pooh," to be released in August.


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