March Insights From Cinelytic

What is the state of Animation in 2023?

Last month, Cinelytic Insights sampled our full domestic box office (DBO) projections for 2023. So far through the first two months of the year, these projections have proven to be roughly 90% accurate. While, as should be expected, the majority of this box office revenue will be earned by live action films, a respectable portion of the total DBO will be courtesy of family-oriented movies that incorporate animated elements.

Looking at the Top 20 films in regard to worldwide box office performance in 2022 and the two years preceding the onset of the COVID-19 crisis (2018-2019), it’s clear that animation has played a pivotal role in this industry and has often showcased some of the most impressive returns.

Of these 40 films between 2018 and 2019, 12 were G/PG rated titles with animated elements catering to young children and families. The average budget amongst these films was roughly US$156m, while the average worldwide box office gross was about US$827m. Furthermore, five of these same animated features surpassed the coveted global box office threshold of US$1b.

In 2022, the first year of theatrical releases following the pandemic, six titles in the Top 20 catered to families. The average budget amongst these films was roughly US$108m, while the average worldwide box office gross was understandably and significantly lower at around US$415m. While 2022 featured no animated films that crossed the US$1b threshold, Universal Pictures’ MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU came the closest at just under US$940b.

Upcoming releases

When comparing the pre and post pandemic global box office averages, it is clear that audiences have been willing to return to cinemas to view live actions blockbusters in person, while G/PG rated family films found it more difficult in 2022 to garner comparable attention. However, with the first major animated release of this year less than a month away, we at Cinelytic analyzed all six of the most notable upcoming animated titles planned for release between April and August.

We highlighted the April 5th release of Universal Pictures’ THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE to showcase what the Spring and Summer of 2023 may have in store for the family friendly film market. Utilizing an estimated budget of US$175m, global P&A costs totaling an additional US$190m, and 19 key attributes to run the AI output including budget, genre, rating, talent, IP value, etc., the platform projects DBO of US$218.7m and IBO of US$333.4m. In addition, the Cinelytic platform is capable of predicting Home Video and TV revenue ultimately based on real data:

Based on the anticipated global net revenues (including 10 year “ultimates” that encompass BO, HE, and TV net of distribution fees and expenses), the film is projected to result in a highly respectable return for the studio, with an ROI of 264.3% before the talent back-end, which can be very substantial.

However, to make sense of this forecast, one needs to understand the same analyses for the other comparable titles to be released in the following months: THE LITTLE MERMAID, SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE, ELEMENTAL, RUDY GILLMAN TEENAGE KRAKEN and TMNT: MUTANT MAYHEM. The table below outlines the results output by the Cinelytic platform:

As shown above, three additional titles are also projected to result in impressive returns, averaging 252.5% in ROI, with SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE expected to perform the best by a significant margin at 447.7%. The two films that appear to be outliers are Walt Disney Studios / Pixar’s ELEMENTAL and Universal Pictures’ RUDY GILLMAN, TEENAGE KRAKEN.

This makes sense when one takes into account that neither of these films have major stars attached, or the luxury of being directly associated with an already established IP or fan base like their four competitors. Even amongst these two outliers, ELEMENTAL stands alone, and is projected to result in a loss. This can be attributed to what will likely be a notably higher total budget, as has become the norm or Pixar releases.

What’s in store for this year?

While we’ll have to wait and see if this year delivers an animated feature that is as lucrative as something like 2022’s MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU, the total box office haul from 2023 should do a better job than last year of reminding us how exhibitors can perform when moviegoers are not afraid or stopped from enjoying their local theater.

As previously mentioned, Cinelytic has in-depth projections for not only the top major studio releases for the upcoming year but also titles being made available theatrically by several mini-major/independent distributors.

 Please feel free to reach out here if you’d like more detailed information on what our projections say for each major title awaiting release throughout the next nine months.