But ever since the pandemic began, animation has had a diminished presence at the U.S. box office, in stark contrast to a country like Japan, where animation has continued to boom. The year 2020 was obviously a lost cause and no animated film came close to 0M. It was surprising, however, that no animated film netted 0M in 2021, a year in which over 10 live-action films hit the century mark.
The last film to top 0M was Frozen 2 back in 2019. That film was one of six animated films to reach the milestone that year. In fact, over the last decade, at least five animated films have reached 0M at the domestic box office annually.
2021 (to date): 0
— cartoonbrew.com – Animation News (@cartoonbrew) October 11, 2021
But studios also have plenty of reasons to release films theatrically in 2022. The key reason being that they’re presenting the strongest slate of animated features in quite a few years. Every studio looks like it has a winner of one kind or another, including Dreamworks Animation’s The Bad Guys, Warner Animation Group’s DC League of Super-Pets, Disney-Pixar’s Lightyear, Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru (as well as its untitled Super Mario film), Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and Disney’s Strange World.
For the first time in over two years, an animated feature has cracked 0 million at the domestic box office.
Whatever happens, Sing 2 marks a solid start to the year. At a time when a lot of feature animation artists are frustrated that their work is being seen exclusively on tvs, Illumination’s latest is a psychological boost for the animation industry and serves as a reminder to studios that some families still want to experience animated features in theaters.
Animation is booming, but the theatrical market is anemic. The number of animated features that grossed 0M+ annually in US:
The dry spell for animation has finally ended at the U.S. box office.
The film is NBCUniversal/Illumination’s Sing 2, which picked up an estimated .95 million in its third weekend, pushing its total to 9M. The strong third weekend performance of the Garth Jennings-directed pic is even more impressive considering that it also became available for home rental last Friday.
What will happen in 2022 remains an open question since so much of the box office recovery depends on factors outside of the quality of the offerings. Here are some things we don’t know yet: Will theaters remain open in the United States and operate at full capacity? Will there be additional coronavirus surges later in the year? Do parents feel comfortable taking their children to theaters? Will studios actually release films in theaters?
Low animation box office in 2021 was partly by design. For example, Disney sent Luca straight to streaming and Sony did the same with The Mitchells vs. the Machines and Vivo. But other films that did receive theatrical releases, and in more normal times likely would have hit 0M, like Disney’s Encanto and Dreamworks’ The Boss Baby: Family Business, sputtered at the box office.