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Ambitious Animation Goals Will Force Disney to Step up Its Game

Nintendo and Illumination
Credit: Illumination, Disney

Disney is not untouchable. This is definitely the highlight of what we have learned this year amid an increasingly picky theater audience. Moviegoers are becoming immune to repeated bashes of nostalgia from live-action remakes and want something familiar yet fresh. The Barbie movie has just proven this singlehandedly, but another huge success earlier this year may be a wound that keeps coming back to haunt Disney in the future.

Universal keeps beating Disney Animation

Credit: Universal

A Changing Audience

When Illumination partnered with Nintendo for the Super Mario Bros. Movie, fans were hopeful but skeptical. Nintendo’s Italian plumber is almost as recognizable as Mickey Mouse, but Universal’s animation studio has built up a reputation for slapstick humor that can sometimes be annoying. Throwing Chris Pratt in as the voice of Mario and Nintendo’s biggest enthusiasts had a lot to worry about.

However, the Super Mario Bros. Movie was a huge success. It went on to gross over $1.3 billion worldwide since its release in April. The film is now the most financially successful video game movie ever and the third highest-grossing animated film ever. Illumination took something familiar but largely unexplored to find success, something the Walt Disney Company has been struggling with recently.

Disney’s latest animated films have not brought anyone to the box office in large numbers. Sure, Encanto charmed audiences when it came to Disney+. However, its theatrical performance was nothing to write home about. Furthermore, many argue that the film succeeded in streaming mostly due to its incredibly catchy music and not the plot. Strange World was an even bigger disaster. The movie was one of the most forgettable in Disney Animation Studios’ 100-year vault of titles. It lost the company a lot of money and started showing a studio that seemed out of ideas.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie stuck to Illumination’s reputation for humor, which was incredibly aimed at young audiences but worked extremely well. The studio focused on simply providing an enjoyable experience for parents and children to connect and have fun. It didn’t need to be anything more, and now Illumination has a repertoire of beloved characters and a major player backing them for the future.

Strange World

Credit: Disney

Nintendo and Illumination Plan a Future Together

Nintendo and Illumination are now rumored to be collaborating on multiple projects to bring the video game company’s many intellectual properties to theaters. All of these projects could give Disney a run for its money, and the studio shouldn’t underestimate it.

Nintendo has a wide array of franchises rivaling anything Disney has nowadays. The appeal is timeless, and adults still love and are invested in these characters they grew up with over time. Their appearances may have evolved due to graphical upgrades, but the core of each character has remained the same. Franchises like The Legend of Zelda, Kirby, Star Fox, and Pokémon have a major presence in a current market dominated by video games. Pokémon is a more profitable entertainment franchise than anything Disney has ever put out, and it’s not even close.

Mario movie erotic image

Credit: Illumination

Disney has also changed its characters over time as it navigates an oversaturation for its audience with live-action remakes. Critics have increasingly pushed back against these films and haven’t connected as much with new characters as in the past.

It will be interesting to see if Disney can recover and adapt to this changing market. Many other studios have also treaded on its title this year. Dreamwork’s recent Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and Netflix’s Nimona received critical acclaim, and neither needed a gigantic budget or live-action remake.

About Michael Stoyanoff

Michael is a Disney fan with an entertainment background and passion for writing. Living in Orlando, he has been around the theme parks for over a decade. In his free time he enjoys running, playing video games, and traveling the world. He also loves hanging out with his dog, Mr. Pippers the Pug.

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