Editorial – Can Disney’s Frozen hit $1 Billion USD Global Gross? (Update: Yes)
While we await the launch of what is arguably the biggest movie of 2014 (so-far) namely, The Lego Movie, it is interesting to take a quick look at what is shaping up to be one of the biggest stories of the “year” and that is the success of Disney’s Frozen. I think most box office prognosticators thought that the film had a decent shot at Tangled numbers ($591 million global) but no one thought that it could be in the position it is in today and that is having a chance at hitting $1 billion USD in global gross.
As of today Disney’s Frozen is sitting at roughly $360 million Domestic and $504 million International for a combined take of $864 million global gross. That means it needs to roughly make an additional $136 million to hit the vaunted $1 billion mark.
For the record, there are currently only 17 movies, not adjusted for inflation, that have made more than $1 billion in global gross and they mostly consist of the “usual suspects” meaning, there are a ton of sequels on the list. If you remove every single sequel from this list it whittles it down to just…four movies. Those four out of the 17 movies to hit $1 Billion global gross are:
|15||Alice in Wonderland||$334,191,110||$691,276,000||$1,025,467,110|
Additionally, there is only one animated (3D or 2D) film in the top 17 and that is none other than Disney’s Toy Story 3 which sits at #11 with a combined global gross of $1,063,171,911.
If Disney’s Frozen manages to hit $1 billion it will claim many records, including being the highest grossing original animated film from any company (not including inflation). As it sits now at $864 million global gross, Disney’s Frozen is behind other stable mates that include The Lion King ($987 million) and Finding Nemo ($936 million).
I just sincerely hope Disney executives do not get greedy and attempt to make Frozen 2 as I’d like to kindly remind them of one huge reason why their Renaissance (that started with The Little Mermaid) eventually fizzled out – making cheap straight-to-video sequels to their IP that had cut-rate animation and less than effective plots.
Although Pixar has managed to keep the money rolling in making sequels like Cars 2 or Monsters University I hope everyone there like John Lasseter realize what got them into their industry-leading position today by taking risks with new IP and somewhat untraditional plots that managed to excite both children and adults.
Ranting aside, let’s take a look at Disney’s Frozen now.
Ever since opening last November, Frozen has enjoyed amazing weekend box office holds excluding its second weekend after Thanksgiving. Since then it is basically dropping in the low 20% per week which is amazing to say the least. Other Winter Season films that premiered at around the same time have all but concluded their runs already, including the much vaunted The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug which has ended up far behind Frozen in domestic gross with an underwhelming $254 million. Thankfully, it is saved by a massive $600 million International take.
During its last weekend (Super Bowl weekend), Frozen was still the #2 film at the US box office with a mere 2% drop mainly because Disney released the film in a special sing-along version that boosted awareness and caused much repeat business. By this Friday Frozen should be sitting around $363 million before the biggest impediment to its success hits, namely The Lego Movie which represents direct competition for the family market.
Families haven’t had a real alternative as The Nut Job has only managed a weak $50 million domestic gross and hasn’t be able to pull viewers away from Disney’s Frozen juggernaut. The Lego Movie will be a much more formidable competitor as nearly everyone has pegged it to make $40-$50 million this coming weekend. As of this writing The Lego Movie is sitting at a ridiculously high 100% Fresh rating over at Rottentomatoes. Surely, this number will begin to slide as more critics chime in but so far the buzz is good to excellent and if it manages to keep a 90%+ rating it will translate into boffo box office numbers. Simply put, if Frozen manages to hold well this weekend even against such strong direct competition it will have a clear path to $400 million domestic.
This is important as Frozen really does need all the help that it can get as its International roll-out is winding down. If Frozen manages to hit $400 million domestic it only requires an additional $100 million International which is certainly doable. Last weekend the film made roughly $24 million International as it is still playing in 45 countries but its grosses in these areas is quickly eroding as the film winds down.
That means we’re going to end up talking about the same country once again.
Remember my posts from last summer about Star Trek Into Darkness’ box office results? Which country ended up boosting its gross and basically making the film save a degree of “face?” It’s the same country that Guillermo Del Toro should be thanking for turning Pacific Rim into a minor success.
Yes, that country is none other than China, the #2 box office nation in the world.
Frozen only has two major markets left to open in, one of which is China and the other Japan. If history is any judge than these two countries alone should boost Frozen’s gross anywhere from a combined $60-100 million. If that happens then it is a lock that Frozen tops $1 billion globally.
3D Animated films are hit or miss in China with titles like Despicable Me 2 doing well while something like Wreck-It Ralph outright flopping hard. In other words, much like I mentioned in my Star Trek Into Darkness posts, it is very hard to read what the Chinese audience gravitates to. However, one big factor in Frozen’s favour is that it has perhaps the best opening weekend possible as it is premiering right in the middle of Chinese New Year, the biggest holiday period for the country. This should at least help the film boost its gross and I’m sure Disney is hoping that it ends its run somewhere north of $50 million.
As for Japan, the country usually likes any 3D animated film to the tune of around $25-50 million although last summer’s Monsters University completely blew away expectations to hit an amazing $90 million. Suffice it to say if Frozen hits those numbers than it will fly way above the $1 billion global mark.
The film needs another roughly $200 million from this point forward if it intends on passing Toy Story 3 to become the biggest animated hit of all-time not counting inflation. Now, that is going to be a much tougher hurdle to pass as it requires the International gross to be in excess of $150 million going forward. It’s not impossible but that’s a really tall order considering the film has been playing now for three months.
Expectation: Frozen will break through $1 billion global but it’s not going to pass Toy Story 3 as that’s a bit too much to ask.
Even if Frozen falls short of the $1 billion mark one thing is for certain: Disney animation is back and “for the first time in forever,” it is making more than Pixar.
Update 2/20/2014: As of today Disney’s Frozen sits at $958,950,586 total worldwide gross meaning that it is assured of crossing the $1 billion mark. It’s still holding up remarkably well domestically as it claws its way to $400 million while overseas the film continues to do well in China where it seems to be performing better than Monsters University. The film still hasn’t opened in Japan so the total gross will certainly be much higher. The film’s biggest foreign territory is South Korea where it has made upwards of $67 million USD.
Update 3/4/2014: Frozen hit $1 billion USD global gross this past weekend. With approximately $388.7 USD domestic in the bank it still has a good shot at flopping over the $400 million domestic mark by the end of its run. Overseas it has made roughly $611.5 million. South Korea continues to be the film’s biggest international market earning about $71.9 million. Frozen opens soon in Japan which should enable the film to challenge Toy Story 3’s final global gross of $1,063,171,911. If it can surpass Toy Story 3’s global gross it will become the biggest 3D or 2D animated film of all-time not taking inflation into account.
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