Netflix has invested heavily in original animation and received a great deal of critical success as a return on that investment. In terms of hours viewed, however, the streamer’s original feature titles haven’t fared nearly as well.
Premiering October 28, Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild failed to break into Netflix’s weekly Top 10 English-Language Films list in its first week on the platform, while Illumination’s Sing (2016) and Dreamworks Animation’s The Boss Baby (2017) both achieved the feat during that same period.
The only Netflix original animated feature released this year to break into the company’s Top 10 weekly list was Chris Williams’ The Sea Beast, becoming the streamer’s most-viewed original animated film while doing so. It is a small sample size to be sure – Netflix’s only other feature-length animation titles released so far this year are Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood, Entergalactic, The House, and Wendell & Wild – but if Netflix is recruiting talent like Selick and co-writer/producer Jordan Peele to make animated films for them, a Top 10 debut seems a reasonable expectation.
Not all hope is lost. Selick’s films don’t fit into an easy aesthetic mold and it could take time for audiences to discover it. And, perhaps like previous Selick’s earlier features A Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, real success for Wendell & Wild will come in the form of annual holiday viewings.
Between now and the end of the year, Netflix will release three more original animated features: Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, and Scrooge: A Christmas Carol. How those films perform relative to the streamer’s acquisitions and catalog content will say a lot about the effectiveness of Netflix’s original animation efforts.
So, what exactly has performed well on Netflix? Below, we’ve listed the animated features that have appeared on Netflix’s Top 10 English-language films list in 2022, as well as how many weeks each film spent on the list. It’s notable that every single film, regardless of whether it’s a new or older release, is cg animated, as well as the fact that every film is targeted towards children or family audiences. (Wendell & Wild was rated PG-13.)
Despicable Me 2
The Sea Beast (Netflix original)
Back to the Outback (Netflix original, released 2021)
The Boss Baby
Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness
The Secret Life of Pets 2
Riverdance: The Animated Adventure
Shrek Forever After
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
The Angry Birds Movie
Pictured at top: Wendell & Wild