Drawn to the theatre: animation rules in 2011

Drawn to the theatre: animation rules in 2011

If you think watching cartoons means staying in your p.j.s on Saturday morning, think again.

In a challenging year at the box office, you’d better not show your face at the local multiplex…just your voice.  ;)

As Rio flew to a $40 million dogro (domestic gross) opening this weekend, it looked very likely to join its animated siblings as box-office dynamos.

Looking at our 2011 Movie Box Office: 40, 80, 1, 2, 3 page, the leader (and one of only two movies in the 100 million slot) is Rango, at 118m.  Other animated movies on our list are:

Rio is too soon to count in the average, and Hop will still gain, but the average of those three is $99.3m.

Compare that to the live-action movies that have made at least $40m dogro and were released in 2011, with an average of only $65m.

Why do today’s audiences prefer animation to movies with, you know, actual human beings on the screen?

There are probably a few significant factors:

3-D: all of these animated movies were released in 3D, which adds a premium to ticket prices, driving up box office grosses.  However, 3D is clearly not a guarantee of box office gold (see Drive Angry…but only if you want to be in the small group of people who have).  ;)

Short run times: the four movies on the list average 95.5 minutes, versus 110 for the live-action movies.   Shorter movies can mean more showings in a day.    If these are just being seen by kids and families, you might think that the evening showings might be light.  However, many young adults grew up accepting animation as something seen by grown-ups (The Simpsons, South Park).  Those evening showings may not have toddlers, but that doesn’t mean they are empty.

It’s an event: when you have kids, it’s good to have something that takes up a chunk of time.  Kids have very busy minds, and there are a lot of ways to keep them entertained.  Unlike a TV show, going to a movie takes up a couple of hours.

Lack of live-action kids’ movies: I Am Number 4, Wimpy Kid, and Justin Bieber are all on our list, but they may skew older than Gnomeo or Rio.

Animated movies have legs: animated movies (and kids’ movies generally) tend to have a fairly long box office life.  “What do you want to do with the kids?” “We could take them to Rango.”  “Didn’t they see that a couple of months ago?”  “Sure, but they won’t care.”

They end in the letter O: just kidding.  :)  Rango, Rio, and Gnomeo…but not Hop.

Does this mean animation means all hits, all the time?

Not quite… Mars Needs Moms has dogroed about $21m…with a budget of about $150m.

That’s worth noting…these animated movies aren’t cheap, and can take a relatively long time to make.

Still, Hollywood would be a lot healthier so far this year if they’d kept those pesky flesh-and-blood actors off our screens.  ;)

Will the trend continue?

Here are some upcoming animated movies in 2011 that should challenge their live-action competition:

Those certainly aren’t all the animated movies this year.  Think I’ve missed a blockbuster?  Feel free to let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

One Response to “Drawn to the theatre: animation rules in 2011”

  1. Movies before Memorial Day 2011 « The Measured Circle Says:

    […] wrote previously about how well animation was doing this year (half the movies that have made over $100m are […]

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