The Wall Street Journal published a story last weekend about Hollywood’s struggle to recoup its costs on big-budget tentpole films, but there’s one bright spot the WSJ (along with the rest of the mainstream media) always fail to recognize and that’s that animation is more successful than ever before.
Despite Turbo’ stumble at the box office and Henry Selick’s diss that American animated films are all the same, audiences around the world can’t get enough of big-budget CG animated features. Check this out:
Only six films have grossed $500 million dollars or more at the worldwide box office in 2013, and three of those films are animated. Let’s put this into perspective: animation studios have released just five animated features this year with a production cost of over $75 million and three of those films became half-billion grossers; on the other hand, live-action filmmakers have released over 20 films this year that cost $75 million or more, and only three of those films have achieved a similar mark. The evidence is clear: expensive animated tentpoles have a much better chance of being profitable than their live-action counterparts.
Leading the way amongst animated films at last week’s box office was the mega-hit Despicable Me which landed in 3rd place with $16.4 mil in its fourth U.S. weekend, boosting its domestic total to $306.8 mil. The film added $24.5 mil from foreign markets for an overseas total of $354.5 mil.
Monsters University continued a similarly strong run, earning $2.9 mil in its sixth U.S. weekend and $15.6 mil from overseas. The film’s totals are now $255.5 mil domestically and $321.6 foreign. The film has yet to open in markets like China and Italy, and by the time it’s all over, the film should become Pixar’s fourth highest-grossing movie ever.
The only animated clunker in theaters right now is DreamWorks’ Turbo, which had a sophomore frame gross of $13.7 mil, good enough for fourth place and a U.S. total of $56.2 mil. The film had a slim 35.5% decline, but it was slim only because the film couldn’t decline much further from its already meager opening weekend. Turbo managed to pick up $12.5 mil from 30 overseas markets pushing its foreign total to $41.9 mil. After two weekends, the film’s combined gross is $98.1 mil.
More animation is coming soon, too. Sony’s Smurfs 2 will be released this week, and Disney’s Planes next week.