This June saw the return of the beloved Parr family who hadn’t been on the big screen since 2004 in the record-breaking launch of Incredibles 2. The Disney-Pixar movie opening generated $182.6M, beating Finding Dory’s $135M and creating a new record opening for animated films. As the eighth best domestic opening of all time for any type of film, Incredibles 2 can add its name to the list of mega hits that drew in a large audience. The movie appealed to all four-quadrants of moviegoers through its thoughtful timing of the much-awaited sequel and the layered storyline of its superhero family.
In the Hollywood movie industry, films are generally aimed at two of the four-quadrants pictured below (male/female, over/under 25). A four-quadrant film is one that appeals to each of the four major demographic quadrants of the moviegoing audience. Most ‘tent-pole’ movies, the ones that support the financial performance of a movie studio or television network, are four quadrant films. Appealing to a large audience is the key to becoming a blockbuster film that is widely popular and financially successful. Trying to appeal to everybody, however, can be a dangerous path to appealing to no one if the movie loses sight of its core audience.
The Incredibles 2 movie is a four-quadrant success story that is a must-see for the young adult generation that fawned over the first movie in 2004, while not losing sight of its primary family crowd. With an estimated 40% of the Incredibles 2 opening weekend audience being under the age of 17 (26% 11 and under), families gave their stamp of approval as they flocked to the box office to see the film. The summer blockbuster managed to appeal to the family audience that is the backbone of Disney/Pixar animated films, while paying homage to the series original fan group that are now ages 17-24 who accounted for 16% of the total audience share in the opening weekend. Incredibles 2 demonstrates how to draw from four-quadrants without sacrificing one for the other as a much-awaited sequel that continues an epic storyline.
THE INCREDIBLE TIMING
Before the movie begins, the cast and writers of Incredibles 2 thank the audience for their patience in the 14-year delay of the anticipated sequel, saying that they know it will be “worth the wait”. Disney’s Pixar has been in no hurry to follow-up its successful movies like the Incredibles or Finding Nemo, trusting that the love for originals will stand the test of time for both the twenty-somethings that grew up with them and the children that are watching them in preparation for the sequels. With a gap spanning over a decade, Incredibles 2 makes the Parr family a multigenerational phenomenon with a wide fanbase.
The amount of years before the release of the Incredibles 2 movie was just as intentionally used as the time of year it was released. By releasing the movie over Father’s Day weekend, the Incredibles 2 film provided a family-friendly activity for families to engage in on the holiday. The timing of the movie set the stage for Incredibles 2 to be an experience appreciated by families and young adults alike, but it is the storyline that made the film a success.
THE INCREDIBLE STORYLINE
The Incredibles 2 movie hits the Disney sweet spot, combining the strengths the company has acquired through Marvel and Pixar of exemplary family friendly animation and super hero action. With more action than most animated films and a family focus that often alludes super hero films, Incredibles 2 takes the audience on a superhero adventure that they can relate to. Pixar’s filmmakers are known for featuring family life, tapping into their own experience as parents in a way that resonates with their audience. Andrew Stanton, father of two small boys used his awareness of being a son to his father and parent to his children while making Finding Nemo. Pete Docter noticing shifts in his 11-year old daughter’s mood sparked the story that led to Inside Out. This trend continues with Brad Bird, director of Incredibles 2.
Since the first movie, Bird has been transformed by his experience as a parent. He calls the Incredibles franchise “strangely personal” as he depicts the struggles of parenting children in the second installment. In Incredibles 2 Bob Parr, Mr. Incredible, is struck by the everyday battles of math homework and daughters dating. The depiction of family life that often alludes hero movies brings an added element that makes it relatable to all four quadrants. Having both adult and child protagonists gives each demographic a character they could latch onto in a “oh, I’ve been there” sort of way. The trailer below highlights the balance between action, family life, and humor that comprises the storyline of the Incredibles 2 movie that broke box office records for animated films.
Impeccable timing and a captivating storyline creates a perfect storm for the four-quadrant success of the Incredibles 2 movie. The sequel appeals to a large audience without sacrificing one quadrant for the other through its 14-year delay and multifaceted story. This is essential for widespread success and drawing in a crowd large enough to open at over $182M, a truly ‘Incredible’ feat.
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