(Update: Thanks to Daniel’s important hint in the comments l I added Brother Bear and Home on the Range to my analysis – which I initially totally forgot. Interestingly, the text doesn’t even need a change, since both movies did nothing exceptional on the box office front and continued the trends I write about.)
Soon, Disney will try to redeem its name in the world of 2D animation with The Princess and the Frog. Personally and frankly I couldn’t care less since I’ve begun to dive into the world of anime and watched some highly creative stuff they’ve done. But that’s only me, one little blogger with a mad mind, so that’s okay.
Not regarding my personal taste regarding Disney movies I’ve done some “research” and put together all important numbers from all Disney (Update: 2D/classical) animated flicks since Little Mermaid.
Well, what can I say: it can only go up…
If I were one Disney exec living in the high skies of power at that time, I clearly would have had some nightmares regarding those numbers in the later years. And of course I also would have had massive parties with sex, drugs, Rock’n roll and all the other nasty stuff at the beginning of the so called Disney Renaissance.
Seriously, the revenues of the four first animated movies starting with Little Mermaid are mesmerizing, it goes up and up and up – until it so strikes out in a slope any skier dreams of. Pocahontas – in combination with the rise of 3D – ruined everything for Disney animated movies forever. The only spikes at the end of the line are Tarzan as well as Lilo & Stitch. And those two spiked don’t even come close to the old days of glory.
But it gets even worse for the Disney execs:
The graph above shows the ratio of production costs to grosses. This means that if a movie has a ratio of 200% it earned double the amount of money as it cost (not counting marketing costs or DVD/VHS).
The first big surprise is the fact that Aladdin made much more money for Disney than Lion King – which is kinda obvious since Lion King cost more than twice than Aladdin. The other big surprise is the downhill slope which seemingly never ends after Aladdin. With one exception late in the game it only goes down and I wouldn’t be surprised if any exec would have consulted his psychiatric counselor of choice on a daily basis.
Seeing those numbers I hoped for some kind of Deus ex machina regarding those numbers. Just as the viruses and bacteria wiped out the aliens in The War of the Worlds, I hoped that at least the international revenues would reverse everything.
Yeah, sure, world…hate me. My hopes were utterly destroyed, of course. As you can obviously see, everything on the international market (including USA) is more or less the same with only minor differences. Nevertheless there is one interesting detail: Treasure Planet is the only animated Disney movie ever to not even come close to the one hundred percent ratio. This movie truly bombed horribly. Home on the Range is the second lowest movie which almost reaches the mark.
But there is even more for your reading pleasure. Up to now I was working solely with pure economic values for the analysis, yet there are of course other factors like viewer opinion. So the following chart connects both revenues and respective IMDB ratings:
As you can see this graphs at least gives a possible hint to some connection that might exist between ratings and revenues. Since I am still in training to read tea leaves, I leave this chart to your interpretation.
So, what have we learned from these statistics?
One thing is clear: after Aladdin and Lion King, animated movies from Disney went south economically, which Disney never was able to overcome. Although some later movies as Tarzan gained more money than their predecessors, higher production costs diminished potential revenues for Disney, hence reducing the ratio further instead of increasing.
Pocahontas, in every way possible, is the big sin of the Disney Corporation (although the last movie – Home on the Range – ranks even worse regarding IMDB rating). If I were an exec who lived through the hells and horrors of that time and found out those numbers, I certainly would have slugged anyone responsible for Pocahontas.
But that’s only me thinking hypothetically.
In any way, I’m eager to see whether or not The Princess and the Frog will be able to end this Cycle of Doom.
What are your expectations?