The trajectory of American theatrical animation just changed forever with a massively successful opening weekend for Sony’s Sausage Party, directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon.

Based on a story by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Jonah Hill, Sausage Party pulled in a $34.3 million, good for second place behind Suicide Squad and the best-ever launch for an animated release in August. And because the film was playing in 1,150 less theaters than Suicide Squad, Sausage Party claimed the highest per-theater average in the top 10 with $11,042.

The storyline you’re going to hear throughout the mainstream entertainment press today is that Sausage Party outperformed expectations and can be considered a major surprise. But why is it a surprise that a high-quality CG-animated film that offered something unique and different would be a hit with audiences?

Late-Thursday night, before even the Thursday preview numbers had been released, we posted the industry’s predictions along with our own:

We added these notes:

In fact, the first time we suggested that Sausage Party could open in the $30-40 million range was late-July:

And again, in early-August:

Not so surprising anymore.

Typically, I don’t much care for predicting box office returns, but in this case, it was important to make the point that the film industry routinely underestimates the demand for variety in animation. It was very obvious that Sausage Party had the makings of a hit, and yet the industry refused to believe it until filmgoers had to spell it out for them.

Whether you liked Sausage Party or not, recognize that it is a big step forward for the American animation industry. And in the short-term, brace yourself for a deluge of raunchy R-rated animated comedies because if Hollywood is good at anything, it’s repeating formulas rather than making projects that are unique and different like Sausage Party.

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