(Bloomberg) -- Inside Out 2, an animated film from Walt Disney Co.’s Pixar, grossed $154.2 million at the box office in the US and Canada, besting Dune: Part Two as the movie with the biggest opening weekend of the year. 

In a reprieve for theater chains such as AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Regal owner Cineworld Group, which have suffered from a dearth of Hollywood films in the first half due to last year’s twin actors and writers strikes, Inside Out 2 scored the biggest opening weekend since 2023’s Barbie. That Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. release grossed $162 million on its debut. 

Internationally, Inside Out 2’s took in another $140 million, Disney said on Sunday. Domestically, it was Pixar’s second-biggest debut, behind The Incredibles 2 in 2018.

“If it was ever in doubt, people continue and are still willing to go to the cinema to see great movies, and with 92% critics and 96% audience scores on RottenTomatoes, there’s no better example of this than Inside Out 2,” Tony Chambers, Disney’s executive vice president for theatrical distribution, said in a phone interview.

The strong showing marks a comeback for Pixar — the storied studio behind A Bug’s Life and Up — which has struggled in recent years after the Toy Story spinoff Lightyear failed in cinemas in 2022 and Elemental, in 2023, opened to the company’s worst performance ever before gaining momentum later. 

In the near term, Pixar’s turnaround strategy will focus on balancing original concepts with sequels and spinoffs in popular franchises such as Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo, President Jim Morris said in an interview last month. 

The domestic ticket sales of Inside Out 2, a critically acclaimed sequel to the 2015 film that follows five anthropomorphized emotions who direct the thoughts and actions of a young girl, trounced an estimated range of $85 million to $115 million from industry tracker Boxoffice Pro. 

Disney’s film studio, led by entertainment division co-chair Alan Bergman, has suffered setbacks in recent years. The unit that includes the movie business hasn’t turned a profit since April 2022. Bergman has said that he’s looking to this year’s titles — including Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, which has grossed $374.5 million since its release in May, Inside Out 2 and August’s Alien: Romulus — as key to returning to past form. 

Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger, who returned to lead the company in November 2022, has made fixing movie studio a priority, delaying some titles as far out as 2031 to ensure better quality.

(Updates box office numbers in first and second-to-last paragraphs.)

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