Animation Sizzles at Summer Box Office

The summer box office has been a mixed bag so far with animated sequels like Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University performing well, while live-action blockbusters like The Lone Ranger and Pacific Rim fail to impress.

Perhaps the biggest surprise so far this season, has been Disney’s The Lone Ranger. The combination of Johnny Depp and a classic franchise that has successfully transitioned to new mediums in the past (the property was originally a radio show that became a top-rated TV series in the 50’s) seemed like sure thing. But Jerry Bruckheimer’s recipe, which had worked so well with Pirates of the Caribbean, seems to have lost its spice, with the film bringing in just $71.1 million worldwide so far, barely scratching the surface of the movie’s estimated $250 million budget.

That’s not to say that blockbuster season has been a complete bust for the studio giant, which is still riding high after May’s Iron Man 3, which raked in $1.2 billion worldwide and remains the highest grossing film of the year to-date. And Disney/Pixar’s more recent Monsters University is proving that franchise’s enduring strength, having brought in $474.2 million worldwide to date, 12 years after the original film, Monsters, Inc., debuted.

But the big winner last weekend was another animated sequel–Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2. The film beat out newcomers Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim to hold the No. 1 spot in its second weekend and has already brought in $472.4 million worldwide. Licensing for the property is managed by Universal Partnerships & Licensing.

Warner Bros.’ Pacific Rim lost out to the minions last weekend, joining the list of big-ticket studio movies that have failed to perform this summer. Despite getting off to a better-than-expected start on Thursday, the film failed to keep up its momentum, bringing in just $38.3 million domestically. Internationally Pacific Rim is fairing a bit better with strong openings in Asia, Russia, Argentina and Mexico, and many territories–including China and Brazil–yet to open.

Warner Bros.’ other blockbuster, Man of Steel, had a good run earlier in the summer though, with the Superman reboot grossing $116.6 million in the U.S. on opening weekend and $619 million worldwide to-date.

The jury is still out on the licensing programs for summer’s blockbuster films, but box office success is generally a strong indicator of retail performance.

The summer is far from over though, with many other films still to come–DreamWorks’ Turbo opens Wednesday followed by Marvel’s The Wolverine on July 26, with Disney’s Planes and Sony Pictures’ The Smurfs 2 arriving in August.

For a look beyond the summer, check out License! Global’s annual Flick Pics report, which highlights licensable film properties slated for the next few years.

Click here to view the Flick Pics report.

*Box office numbers were gathered from