By that standard, a $5 million opening is actually rather impressive. In fact, looking back at the last 10 years of animation releases in the U.S., I could not find a single instance of a $5M+ U.S. launch for a European animated film that was produced without upfront involvement from an American producer or distributor. In fact, the last foreign-produced animated release to top $5M in its opening frame was the South Korean/Canadian production The Nut Job back January 2014. (I’m not entirely certain about the production arrangement on the recent Nut Job sequel, though American distributor Open Road Films was involved from the beginning, unlike the first film.)
The $30m production Leap!, which was released as Ballerina internationally and has already earned over $50 million outside of the United States, will add at least another $15 million from its American release, which isn’t too shabby.
Aardman’s Shaun the Sheep Movie opened with $4M in the U.S., on its way to $19.4M, and I’ve been told by people close to the production that those numbers were considered a success, especially since the film had already earned its money back outside of the U.S. As the number of animation offerings expand in the United States, it’s important to remember that not every film can be judged by the same metrics, and that a $40m opening weekend isn’t always necessary for a foreign feature to be considered a success.
Speaking of European animated features, Enrique Gato’s Tadeo Jones 2: The Secret of King Midas launched in Spain this weekend as the no. 1 film in that country, pulling in $2.8m. It’s the strongest start for a Spanish film since December 2015, according to Deadline.
The film, which follows the adventures of a Chicago construction worker with a passion for archaeology, is a follow-up to the 2012 feature Tad, The Lost Explorer, which earned over $50 million worldwide, including almost $24m from Spain alone, where it became that country’s highest-grossing homegrown animation release of all-time.
Paramount Pictures International jumped on board after the success of the first film, acquiring worldwide distribution rights to Tadeo Jones 2. It’ll roll out the film in dozens of countries throughout the fall and winter. A U.S. release doesn’t seem to be planned at the moment.