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Box Office Report

‘My Little Pony: The Movie’ Opens In 4th; ‘Despicable Me’ Passes ‘Zootopia’ In Global Box Office

New in theaters this weekend was Lionsgate/Hasbro’s My Little Pony, directed by Jayson Thiessen, which scraped up a solid $8.8 million (estimated) for a 4th place opening.

The feature-length toy plug was aimed primarily at young girls and their moms. It resulted in a $3,481 per-screen average from 2,528 screens. Opening weekend audience was 59% female and 41% male, with 51% of the audience age 25+.

Though the film is a 2D/3D hybrid, the main characters are 2D, marking the first time that a film with 2D animated characters has receive a wide release in the U.S. since 2015’s The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

While some box office pundits have called the opening weekend numbers a disappointment, it’s actually a solid opening for MLP. Here’s a few factors to consider:

* Firstly, the budget for this film was tiny. Hasbro has declined to release any figures, but based on wide-ranging data for similar films – and the fact that it was financed in-house by Hasbro – it looks like a $5-8 million production. For comparison, The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature opened with almost the same amount yet that film cost $40M to produce.

* Lionsgate doesn’t expect $30M+ openings for its animated fare because they’re not in the family film biz like other major animation studios. They look to acquire low-hanging kiddie fare – and MLP is a success in that department. MLP should end up outgrossing all of their other wide releases in this category over the last few years: Rock Dog, Norm of the North, The Wild Life, Shaun the Sheep Movie.

* Hasbro’s main business is selling toys, and a few extra million of box office won’t tilt the scale in terms of the toy manufacturer’s overall business. The company reported in 2014 that the My Little Pony IP generated $650 million in revenue from toys and accessories.

* If there’s anything to criticize about the film’s performance, it would be its international launch. MLP opened this weekend in 49 markets abroad with a paltry $3.8 million. Its biggest overseas territory was Germany where it delivered $676,000.

Meanwhile, Illumination/Universal’s Despicable Me 3 continues its record-setting run at the global box office, and has now surpassed Disney’s Zootopia to become the 5th highest-grossing animated film ever released.

DM3 joins Minions as the second non-Disney Company animated feature to land in the all-time animation top 5. The film is also just $4 million shy of overtaking Finding Dory for the no. 4 spot.

Here’s the worldwide box office for the top 10 all-time highest-grossing animated films (as of Sunday, October 8):

  1. Frozen (Disney, 2013): $1.276 billion
  2. Minions (Illumination, 2015): $1.159 billion
  3. Toy Story 3 (Pixar, 2010): $1.067 billion
  4. Finding Dory (Pixar, 2016): $1.028 billion
  5. Despicable Me 3 (Illumination, 2017): $1.024 billion
  6. Zootopia (Disney, 2016): $1.023 billion
  7. Despicable Me 2 (Illumination, 2013): $970.8 million
  8. The Lion King (Disney, 1994): $968.5 million
  9. Finding Nemo (Pixar, 2003): $940.3 million
  10. Shrek 2 (DreamWorks, 2004): $919.8 million


  • Marc Hendry

    before this, has there been a wide-release feature that was animated with Toon Boom rigs?

    • Nope. This movie’s the first of its kind.

    • ToonBoom_Animator

      Yeah none that I can think of! At least not theatrical features.

      I hope this trend continues, would be a great way for 2D guys like me to work on some theatrical features for a change instead of TV stuff.

      • Matt Norcross

        Don’t count on it. 2D animation as a theatrical method has suffered a supply-and-demand problem for the longest time.

        • ToonBoom_Animator

          True! There are a few more TV shows based 2D movies coming out though. Bob’s Burgers and Teen Titans Go are the next two on the agenda.

          Whether those are actually animated in North America remains to be seen though… could be they’ll ship them overseas as usual which kind of stinks.

      • The Simpsons Movie was also done in Toon Boom Harmony. It’s 2D for characters, but including 3D for backgrounds and objects.

        • Marc Hendry

          Isn’t the Simpsons (including the movie) animated using hand-drawn animation, using toon boom for colouring/inking?

    • Arturo Baccio Cruz

      simpsons movie

      • MadDoggyca

        Fantastic MR fox as far as I know was also one even though it was more done in canon style art

  • mash potato

    Did the leak factor into MLP’s opening numbers? Clear copies got loose into the wild days before official opening, some filesizes suggest they were meant for cinema projectors.

    Hasbro’s got a hole so big more than just the movie got leaked.

    • Zak Wood

      Bronies are too Loyal, Little Girls know jack about movie leaks, and Non-Fans of the show don’t care

  • Inkan1969

    The MLP movie was overloaded with songs that the makers used as a crutch to move the plot along. But still, I thought the tone and the production values of the movie were on the same level as movies from Disney or Pixar or Illumination. The film had plenty of harrowing scenes to earn its PG rating, and was pitched more for a general audience instead of little girls only. And I thought the art looked beautiful on the big screen, particularly in some moments where the art was more stylized than normal. I really think MLP is the best of the wide-release mainstream movies to come out in the US so far in 2017. I hope more people check the movie out.

    • Ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi

      The songs were nice. I appreciate that they even took the time to write new songs instead of rehash 80s oldies like everybody else.

    • Bob

      If you aren’t a brony does this movie hold up? From my point of view, someone who has no connection to my little pony, it seems garish visually and uninteresting plot wise…

      • Inkan1969

        I agree that the scenes in the trailer are garish. They’re mostly from the first setting, where for some reason the background is more simplistically drawn than in the TV series. But the settings after the first one have much more detail and are more visually interesting. And I thought the film’s action scenes were well staged.

        Some of the show’s main characters get lost in the background. But I thought the rest retained their personalities from the series, and I found the new characters compelling.

        • Dustin Koski

          They used the shots with simplistic backgrounds in the trailer because the viewer’s attention is supposed to be focused on the characters and the expensive voice acting.

          • Inkan1969

            The designers of the movie’s end credits have gotten permission to post stills from the credits.


            I really think the end credit art is some of the most beautiful art I’ve seen for a mainstream movie.

  • ThatGuy

    The movie looks amazing. Just beautiful but it suffers from “Wanna-be-Disney” syndrome

  • David Pauwels

    I think it’s a very solid 90 minute episode that stands up there with some of the best 2-part episodes. The songs are catchy, the jokes are tight. My 6-year-old daughter and I are big fans and we both loved it.

  • Anonymous

    It hasn’t been released in Spain yet.

  • You say it’s 2D animated, but it’s not animated in the traditional sense. I’m pretty sure the movie is using similar tools to shows like Jake and the Neverland Pirates and The Lion Guard, and those are digital productions meant to simulate traditional animation. Again, much more sophisticated animation from the show and a lot more depth to the image, but the characters aren’t “drawn” but done up with puppet tools. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    • HaBla

      You’re not wrong, but it still qualifies as 2D.

    • William Gooch

      They are digitally colored, but they are mostly hand drawn. It’s not true puppet animation.

      • Anonimator

        I’ve heard it was puppet animation, actually, but with a lot of drawing involved.

        • siskavard

          It’s Toon Boom

  • It’s not out in Spain yet — nor in the UK,* France, Russia, the Netherlands or Italy. Might have something to do with it!

    * A limited preview release in Scotland apart.

  • Kenneth W Servello

    MLP has been targeting a general audience for quite a few years,so… was a great movie, and the animation was pretty cool.

  • Mares Fillies

    I’m a 26 year old college guy, and I went to the movie screen tonight. I must say that despite my worry that Hasbro would go the “General Audience” route they actually went and catered to the fans. I’m pleasantly surprised most kids stuff like Comic Book superheroes and the like do not stick to their source material. Hell, they even continued off where the comic book left off. Now that is true love for the fans.

    I’m glad to have gotten to know these 6 mares. They truly are special. Also damn, Twilight Sparkle look sooooo good in Toon Boom. Total treat. Well, worth the 15 – 20 dollars to be transported to Equestria for ~ 2 hours.

  • Kelly Shea

    MY 5 year-old daughter loved the film; she’s been so excited to see it ever since we learned about the big screen movie earlier in the summer. I’m not going to critique the plot or characters or anything else, since I don’t really care (It’s a kids movie, c’mon now), I only care about whether or not my daughter was happy.
    And she was. Going to see this movie was something we could do as a family & I know that was special to her, as it was to me & my husband. We loved seeing her happy little face singing along in the movie (even though she didn’t know the words) & dancing too!

  • TalonsofIceandFire

    Although the movie hasn’t done all that great critically, I at least hope there is enough of a financial incentive to fix any flaws the movie had. Disappointed that this film isn’t going to be theatrically released in China. If Your Name and Big Fish & Begonia are an indicator, they seem open-minded when it comes to 2D animation.

  • JonathanisPrimus

    This is a fairly important release for Hasbro. Not because it’s sink or swim for them financially – it could flop and their financial reports wouldn’t look that different. No, because it’s the beginning of them taking on their properties directly. A Hollywood studio didn’t produce this film. Hasbro did.

    This is meant to be the first in what the company hopes becomes a line of animated feature films. IIRC, they have a very ambitious goal of being able to launch at least one new theatrical film every year. Most, if not all of the production work going forward will be done by Boulder Media in Ireland. Hasbro bought them out and has been expanding them dramatically. Right now they’re working on a fully CG animated theatrical Transformers film, alongside a variety of TV and web projects. Hasbro is also developing Stretch Armstrong, Hanazuki, and Littlest Pet Shop animated features.

  • natef

    I can only hope that the movie, mediocre as it is, still gets more people curious about the series. I still think they can make a great feature-length story if they treat it as an opportunity to truly develop the characters on a grander stage as opposed to just getting more celebrities involved.

  • Wish the opening number was higher as this movie deserves to make more
    money than something like Emoji Movie. It wasn’t great, but decent enough.