Spider-Man and the Super Mario Bros. signal a “new era” of competition for Disney

Animation is seen as slow in Hollywood’s recovery from COVID. Two recent movie releases have shown that is no longer the case.

This past weekend, Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (SONY) earned $120.65 million for the first time domestically, according to the studio, topping conservative estimates of $80 million. It was the best opening ever for Sony Pictures Animation and the third-biggest opening weekend for any Spider-Man film.

The film’s gross marks the second-biggest opening of 2023 so far, narrowly surpassing Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 3 (DIS) to land just behind another animated title – Universal’s Super Mario Bros. Movie. Movie (CMCSA).

The films add firepower to Universal and Sony at the US box office, which is dominated by Disney.

“These were huge franchises and characters that people loved, but maybe it’s mainly because of the fact that there’s this pent-up demand,” Sean Robbins, senior analyst at Box Office Pro, told Yahoo Finance. “In the past couple of years, even though movies have come back, the most hardcore content has been animation and family-friendly content. A large part of that is because these movies take a long time to produce and naturally are the hardest hit of all the COVID delays.” .

Animation Film Economics

“Spider-Man: Through the Spider-Verse” (Source: Sony)

According to Robbins, animated films typically require a production window two to three times longer than that of traditional films due to the complex work of animation teams, who have to create every second of the film from scratch.

At the same time, these films tend to be less expensive because they don’t require actual sets and actors. Robbins said that means a potential upside for the studios — especially if the movie is based on a pre-existing franchise with a built-in audience of kids and their parents.

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He continued, “Kids tend to re-watch content they love over and over again, and this is an affordable cost that parents can certainly justify in their family budgets while trying to save money and keep their kids entertained at the same time.”

Robbins said a “Spider-Verse” success could happen, too Its diverse cast of characters is credited with the film featuring the black and Puerto Rican title character, Miles Morales.

“A lot of people of different races are represented in the movie. It’s a broader appeal beyond just the traditional Marvel fanbase that we’re talking about,” he said, adding that positive reviews from critics and audiences likely boosted receipts as well. “People just want to go out and spend money on content they know they can post and feel good about and spread that word of mouth.”

‘changing of the guards’

The successful debut of both “Spider-Verse” and “Super Mario Bros.” Show how Disney, historically the leader in animation, is getting fresh competition from other studios.

In 2022, Disney led the box office with $1.93 billion in ticket sales, or 26% of total market share, according to Delivery time Analysis based on Comscore data.

Universal came in second with $1.64 billion, or 22% market share. Sony is in a smaller bucket, with the 2022 domestic box office coming in at $843.8 million, which is 11% of the market share.

Despite Disney’s position as the largest producer of films, the company has faced struggles recently, particularly with regard to its animation business.

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Last summer, Pixar’s “Lightyear” didn’t quite live up to expectations, taking just $51 million in its domestic debut before hitting just $118 million in theaters ahead of a flashy Disney+ release.

Most recently, the animated movie “Strange World,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Dennis Quaid, cost the company $200 million after opening to dismal reviews during Thanksgiving week, One of the worst swings 2022.

Industry observers blamed the errors on poor marketing plans and public confusion about which titles were theatrical exclusives and which were streaming-only releases on the company’s Disney+ platform.

This, along with bad word-of-mouth reviews, contributed to these films’ underperformance, in Robin’s view.

“I think we are in a new age,” he said. “It’s definitely a bit like the changing of the guards with other animation studios doing well, and Disney isn’t necessarily on the cutting edge of it right now.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger referred to a “Super Mario Bros. movie” during the company’s recent earnings call, pointing to more upside for its theatrical business as the CEO resets the company’s strategy.

“Let me digress for a moment to congratulate Universal on the massive success of Super Mario Bros,” Egger said on the call. “It certainly proves people’s love of being entertained in theaters around the world, and gives us reason to be optimistic about the film industry.”

Universal’s owner Comcast noted the franchise’s success with others like “Despicable Me,” “Shrek,” “Pets,” and “Minions” in its own earnings call.

“These are the results of the strategic decision we made years ago to become a leader in animation and the conviction that we had to continue to invest in even in the depths of the pandemic, and which is now clearly paying off,” CEO Brian Roberts said.

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Alexandra Channel He is a senior correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @employeeAnd linkedin, and email it to [email protected]

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