Saturday, November 1, 2014

Big Box Office

Big Hero 6 is six days away…

Anticipation has been bubbling up, and unlike Frozen, the pre-release hype for this film is arguably pretty damn big. With Frozen, the hype arguably came afterwards. Sure, Frozen was destined to be successful since it opened with a really good $67 million last year, but there was a lot of pre-release skepticism. Even from fans of Walt Disney Animation Studios' recent output. Despite coming off of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen had a lot of its detractors before it opened. Don't believe me? Remember all the moaning and groaning about how "awful" it looked? Remember how it was "Tangled on Ice! How unoriginal!"? Other people took some comments from animator Lino diSalvo out of context, Cartoon Brew ran with it, you would've thought that Disney committed a crime against humanity or something.

When the movie opened, all of that flack disappeared in a flash. Now all you heard was "Frozen is awesome", "Frozen is Disney's best in years!", "Frozen is one of the best animated movies ever!", and so on. Oscars, accolades, ridiculous box office performance, everyone singing 'Let It Go', Olaf (who was one of the most criticized elements of the marketing) was everywhere and everyone was quoting him…

I've seen very little skepticism over Big Hero 6, it's as if Disney has really gained the public's trust thanks to Frozen. Baymax is huge, and rightfully so, he's a very appealing character. What's better than a cute, comical robot that looks like a big white balloon? Others are very happy to see that the film's titular team is very diverse, others like that it promises Marvel-esque action and a big scope. All of the trailers have been pretty successful in selling the movie, I think. Disney did well marketing the film, and analysts are predicting a big gross is in store for it. Box Office Mojo, for instance, thinks it's going to make around $215 million, putting it above Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph. Other sites are beginning to sing a similar tune…

From the beginning, I was thinking that Big Hero 6 would land somewhere in the 200s in terms of the domestic box office performance. It obviously wasn't going to be Frozen-sized from the get-go, because Frozen is one of those once-in-a-blue-moon phenomenons where all the stars line up for it. But was Frozen the summit of a momentum mountain like The Lion King was back in 1994? The Lion King came off of a string of films that topped each other one after the other…

Leaving out the relatively unsuccessful The Rescuers Down Under (which Jeffrey Katzenberg pretty much killed as it was barely hopping out of the gate), here's the 1989-1994 streak…

  • Oliver & Company - $53 million
  • The Little Mermaid - $84 million
  • Beauty and the Beast - $145 million
  • Aladdin - $217 million
  • The Lion King - $312 million

And of course after The Lion King, nothing Disney Animation made since outgrossed Aladdin domestically until the release of Frozen. Only two films came close, 1999's Tarzan and 2010's Tangled.

Here's what Frozen came off of, leaving out 2011's Winnie the Pooh, which was similarly dumped by the higher-ups…

  • Bolt - $114 million
  • The Princess and the Frog - $104 million
  • Tangled - $200 million
  • Wreck-It Ralph - $189 million
  • Frozen - $400 million

Ralphy made a little less than Rapunzel, it didn't perform like Beauty and the Beast beating out Mermaid. That being said, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were made at a time when the general public - meaning adult moviegoers more than anything - was beginning to really warm up to Disney Animation and animated features in general after years of mostly ignoring it.

After Walt's death and the 1967 release of The Jungle Book, there was a little stretch where Disney's animated films did well but not extremely well. The Aristocats and The Rescuers were money-makers but they didn't dent the Top 10 of their respective years, Robin Hood on the other hand did in 1973. The Fox and the Hound did well in 1981, but it was no Time Bandits or Raiders of the Lost Ark. On the other hand, Mermaid did very well (more so internationally than here, denting the Top 10 worldwide), but Beauty and the Beast soared past that 2 years later both domestically and internationally. Disney Animation was sitting with the big leagues again! Then Aladdin, coming off of the very popular Beast, went even higher.

Again, the 1989-1994 streak was a climb and it was also a much different era. More films go past $100 million domestically now, so if you're in the Top 20, you're probably good. Nowadays, animated features have become more commonplace and normally make big bucks, so it's no big deal if Ralph made a little less than Tangled. What mattered was that Disney Animation's film were doing well again.

Anyways, the real question I ask here is: How are Disney's other animated films going to do? It's probably too soon to think ahead, but…

Let's say Big Hero 6 lands somewhere between $200-250 million. Zootopia? Well, if it's marketed wisely like this film, it could easily collect another $200 million. The concept is really cool and it's animals, there's already a lot of appeal there. I'm sure that alone will work in the film's favor, but the trailers do need that "pull" that'll get the audiences coming in. Big Hero 6 had that in the balloon bot, Frozen had it, Tangled had it, Ralph had it. In order to do well, a movie (dead horse beating time!) needs to look good from the get-go, there's got to be something in the marketing that'll make many audiences across the nation say, "I want to see that!"

The big question concerns Moana. Right now, it's being hyped up as a sort of "next Frozen". It has an Oceanic heroine, it's supposed to be epic in scope, it'll probably be a musical, and it's a holiday 2016 release. Also, it's from Disney's dream team: Ron Clements and John Musker! This has "big hit" written all over it, and I'm sure it'll be a big smash when it dives in theaters two years from now. The people who made Frozen so big are going to want more like it, but this time they'll have to wait for it rather than get it immediately. This is a good reason why I love the current era of Disney Animation.

Instead of feeding audiences the same thing each time out like they did during the Renaissance, Disney Animation is offering a variety of different stories. Big Hero 6 is certainly a 180 from Frozen, and thankfully so. Wreck-It Ralph is no Tangled. Even then, Tangled and Frozen feel pretty different despite being based on fairy tales and having a similar art style. Zootopia is probably going to be dissimilar to the films preceding it. Moana may have a female lead and might end up having musical numbers, but the story sounds nothing like Tangled or Frozen. Again, trying something new with each film while also revisiting traditions every once in a while. It'll keep audiences and fans satisfied, for sure.

I love the slate the studio has, it's very diverse and there's a lot of variety. It's not the 90s string of films, where every film had to be a reheat of Mermaid/Beast/Aladdin/Lion King, where they "had" to have Broadway-style songs, good-vs-evil stories with romances (or hints of it, at least), big bad villains, and massive climaxes at the end of each film. Things got generic, audiences caught onto that. When Disney Animation wanted to break free from that with experimental films like Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet, executives got in the way and mostly ruined things. The former opened well but dipped afterwards on top of getting mixed reviews, no one even bothered to see the latter whether it was bad or decent or good - it looked bad from the marketing. Even 9/10-year-old me at the time was not convinced. Lilo & Stitch is a survivor from this era, and it is so because it wasn't meddled with as much as some of the other films that were in production at the time, on top of having an overall strong core.

Those times are thankfully no more. Wreck-It Ralph got to be the big, smart, heartfelt, video game-set action film it wanted to be - and it looked great, people went to go see it. Big Hero 6, based on the early reviews, was allowed to be a great superhero epic. The real reason why Walt Disney Animation Studios is making good films again is because they are being allowed to do so. The creatives rule the day, with well-written stories that don't pander to any age group. Executives who see animation as nothing more than an asset and a kiddie thing are no longer in charge; Iger's Disney is thankfully - mostly - hands off. John Lasseter runs the show, and we all know his background.

Big Hero 6 doing well is going to be a miracle. The fact that it's so hotly anticipated makes me really happy. Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 are going to be what films like Atlantis and Treasure Planet should've been. Films made entirely by passionate filmmakers and not suits, and films that will be successful and be well-known for years to come. Walt Disney Animation Studios, ever since Lasseter took over, has a bright future ahead. It just keeps getting bright and brighter…

As for Big Hero 6 alone, I'm sure it's going to be truly successful. $200 million+ domestic, and a $300 million overseas total. Maybe even higher. I'm thinking it passes $55 million on opening weekend, while opening a bit lower than Frozen. Maybe around $57 million, perhaps? Then it'll score a good multiplier like almost any good animated film, and cruise past $200 million. $215 million does seem about right. I think it also has strong international appeal, so I do see the film making over $300 million worldwide and catching on. It most likely won't be as big as Frozen, but it will make a mark, indeed. If Disney's higher ups have a problem with it not making a ridiculously large $1.2 billion, I'm just going to have to have a talk with them…

What are your box office predictions for Big Hero 6?


  1. I'm gonna beat a dead horse as well, but Roy Conli's comment saying that a hand-drawn film is out of the question if someone has a great pitch for one gives me great hope as well. Nobody said WDAS was done with hand-drawn, I just think Disney wants to wait until the time is right to take another shot at it. Either that or see if James Lopez's Hullabaloo does well.

  2. I disagrees with you about the audience' concensus of Frozen right now. Yes, it was a huge hype and everyone loves it. But now, everyone starts bashing it because its apparently 'cool' to hate on popular things. These hates are everywhere on the internet, if you just can through the comment section of BH6. Which is sad and irritating, considering Frozen doesn't deserve all those hates.

  3. Ehhhh, I consider that to be the vocal minority. Loud as hell, but ultimately minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

  4. "Despite coming off of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen had a lot of its detractors before it opened. Don't believe me? Remember all the moaning and groaning about how "awful" it looked? Remember how it was "Tangled on Ice! How unoriginal!"? "

    This is why I'm glad there was no Twitter in the 1970s.

  5. I hate CGI Walt Disney Animation Studios movies like Frozen and Wreck-it Ralph. How many CGI Walt Disney Animation Studios movies like Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph do we need, Disney? Bring back traditional animation Walt Disney Animation Studios movies, Disney. Animation is not always about CGI you know. I miss traditional animation Why CGI Walt Disney Animation Studios movies still only have November? Why CGI Walt Disney Animation Studios movies cannot release on other month like June? Bring back summer, Walt Disney Animation Studios. I miss Walt Disney Animation Studios summer releases. CGI Walt Disney Animation Studios movies needs summer releases really badly. I'm sick of November. Man, 2010s is a very difficult decade for traditional animation. A majority of animation has moved on to CGI causing traditional animation get stuck on TV nowadays. America doesn't care about traditional animation and you have to use CGI to do America's animation outputs like CGI Lucky Charms commercials. This cause to damage traditional animation and animation in general like stop motion animation. Why America making new animation has to go by CGI? I want my animation goes by different styles of animation in general like traditional animation. Animation needs to stop going by technology. Man, traditional animation is still going downhill even with Toon Boom. Now the only way is inventions. That's why animation doesn't care about animation nowadays because animation only appeals kids marketing/comedies/jokes/CGI. Animation does not appeal animation in general like story and mature content. Animated movies rarely nominated Best Picture (except Beauty And The East, Up and Toy Story 3). Why, America's animation, why? By the way, great blog and I'm looking forward to see Big Hero 6 when it came out this Friday. I can't wait for Big Hero 6. :)

  6. Will Disney ever do another hand drawn animated feature? Does Bob Iger believe in Hand Drawn Animation?