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


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