After opening in theaters last week, The Angry Birds Movie 2 is struggling, like its cast of avian characters, to take flight. In its opening weekend, it earned an estimated $10.5 million in the U.S. — a disappointing result for an established franchise. An estimated $19.4 million overseas performance brings its global weekend performance to $29.9 million. Since its opening, which happened earlier in other parts of the world, the film has grossed $46.4 million worldwide.
Sony Animation’s feature is a follow-up to 2016’s The Angry Birds Movie, which was based in turn on the mobile game fad by Finnish developer Rovio. The first film opened to poor reviews but solid box office takings, reaching $38.1M in its opening weekend in the U.S. The sequel faces the reverse situation: critics were kinder, giving it a 76% score on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing (as opposed to the original’s 44%). That hasn’t convinced the public. Sony launched the film unconventionally early in the week, on a Tuesday, but even with those extra three days, the film’s domestic six-day cume stands at $16.2M.
Domestically, The Angry Birds Movie 2 was outperformed by The Lion King, which took $11.9M in its fifth weekend. To be fair, the Angry Birds franchise counts most of its fans abroad — the first film made nearly 70% of its $352.3M outside the U.S. Even so, the sequel is set to end its run far short of that figure. Even its global total this week, from 30 different territories, couldn’t match the $39.4M made by runaway hit Ne Zha in China alone.
The film’s lackluster performance continues something of a trend this year. Time and again, animated features based on a franchise or other intellectual property — and not made by Disney — have stumbled at the box office. Neither Warner Bros.’s The Lego Movie 2 nor Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets 2 has managed to gross even half as much as its predecessor. In May, Uglydolls received a wide release, and was rewarded with a dismal $8.6M opening weekend.
According to some early analysis, the Angry Birds franchise has simply run its course — the game is now ten years old. But its poor performance could also be attributed to a broader disenchantment with unoriginal cg family features. Two years ago, Cartoon Brew wrote about the fad for animated films based on toys and games, as detailed in a New York Times article. These cookie-cutter movies contrive stories out of essentially non-narrative brands. Audiences may simply be tiring of them.
Then there’s the Disney factor. The Mouse House, which is now Hollywood’s biggest player by a large margin, seems to be immune to this downward trend. Its two most recent animated blockbusters, Toy Story 4 and The Lion King, derive from existing franchises, yet both have cracked the $1 billion mark globally. The Lion King is now among the ten highest-grossing films of all time. These films, alongside Disney’s other properties, provide formidable competition. As Deadline notes, “it was hard to date [The Angry Birds Movie 2] in a Disney-filled family summer.”
Earlier this month, Cartoon Brew spoke to Thurop Van Orman and John Cohen, director and producer respectively of The Angry Birds Movie 2, about how they pushed the film in a different creative direction than its predecessor.