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Last week, those in the know expected The Secret Life of Pets to put up $70 million at the box office. The movie appears to have broken $100 million. At the same time, Finding Dory became the highest grossing domestic movie of the year so far. 2016 has been a phenomenal year for animated films, and it's barely more than half over. At this point, it's on track to be the biggest year for animation that we've ever seen.
It seems that every wide release animated film has put up massive numbers at the box office. From Kung Fu Panda 3 through Zootopia, even The Angry Birds Movie has been a success. And there are several more animated features left to bow. Here's why animation is king of the box office in 2016, and why 2016 will be the biggest year ever for the art form.
Animated Films Have Already Made More Than $1 Billion
The highest grossing box office year for animation was 2013, which saw over $1.6 billion in ticket sales thanks to having three films in the top 10: Frozen, Despicable Me 2, and Monsters University. This year, there are four films currently in the top 10, and animation has already grossed over $1.1 billion, with half a year left to make up the difference. It won't take much for the remaining features combined to be successful. Kubo and the Two Strings will see one more major animation release this summer and even if it doesn't set the box office on fire, it should set everything up for a massive holiday season.
Disney Continues To Be Disney, aka King
When it comes down to it, the Disney name is still king in the world of animation. While other studios have occasionally jumped ahead of the Mouse House, Disney has taken their licks and learned how to improve. It's difficult to not argue that Disney is going through one of its stronger periods right now. Zootopia has grossed over $1 billion worldwide, making it one of the biggest hits the studio has ever seen. Finding Dory is now the highest grossing movie of the year, and the studio isn't done yet.
A New Disney Princess Is On Her Way
The Disney princess has been a popular character since the 1930s. However, in the modern era, people are looking for something different and special from this cinematic mainstay. While Disney's last princesses turned the classic formula on its head, the next one will look very different than her predecessors. Moana will be the first pacific islander princess character, adding an aspect of ethnicity that will be a breath of fresh air for the brand. This will attract both the Disney fans, and those who want to see this new take on the studios most popular brand. If that doesn't work, it has The Rock, too.
There's Quantity, As Well As Quality
There's one simple reason that 2016 is looking to the biggest year ever in the history of animation, the sheer number of films is ridiculous. There are now four major animation studios releasing films annually: Disney, Dreamworks, Illumination, and Laika. Only, Laika, the stop-motion animation studio, is only releasing one film this year. Between them, eight films were planned for 2016, and only half of them have been released so far. This means that the current box office total for animation could literally double before the end of the year.
Animated Films Have Had Legs
It's one thing for animated films to be popular out of the gate, but they've been successful not just on opening weekends, but in the long term. Of the 32 weeks that have passed in 2016, animated films have been number one at the box office for 11 of them, more than a third, including the last five in a row. They even have the edge over the much-lauded comic book movie, which has seen 10 weeks worth of box office winners. However, while the comic book movies begin strong, they also fall fast, while the animated films have remained consistent over longer periods.
Non-Animated Movies Have Failed to Live Up to Expectations
Part of the reason that animated films have remained so popular is because the competition hasn't been very successful this year. Live-action movies expected to make a splash, like Independence Day: Resurgence, The BFG, or The Divergent Series: Allegiant, which should have at least won their opening weekend, have not drawn the audience that they were expected to, meaning that the crowds have gone back to familiar ground. The only movies that have been exceeding expectations have been the animated ones, like The Secret Life of Pets. All of these have helped to make 2016 a banner year so far, and the best seems yet to come.