It's Comcast's Universal Pictures unit and not Disney that wears the "animation crown" these days.
Universal's Super Mario Bros. Movie opened to $204.6 million domestically over its first five days of release, making it this year's biggest North American theatrical premiere so far. Adding in the $173 million the movie has made internationally, the film -- a collaboration between Universal's Illumination unit and video game maker Nintendo -- now has a global box office revenue total exceeding $377 million.
The boffo theatrical opening is interesting for several reasons, and not just because it reveals a bit of post-pandemic revitalization for the domestic theatrical exhibition business.
For one, it shows that Comcast/NBCUniversal can cut windows from theatrical premiere to streaming debut on Peacock down to just seven weeks, as it did recently with Knock at the Cabin, and still open its movies big.
But maybe even more notable is the fact that, according to LightShed Research Partners analyst Richard Greenfield, Universal now "wears the animation crown," which no longer belongs to Disney.
Universal and Illumination, which the studio co-owns along with Super Mario Bros. Movie producer Chris Meledandri, are coming off last summer's blockbuster success of Minions: The Rise of Gru, which generated nearly $940 million at the global box office.
Disney-Pixar's last hit came in 2019 with Toy Story 4.
Greenfield re-tweeted his January appearance on CNN's Squawkbox, (opens in new tab) during which he wondered if Disney was too distracted trying to compete on the broad-reaching programming level of Netflix to remain relevant in the more specialize area of family animation.
"If you think about what Universal Studios has done in animation over the last couple of years, relative to Disney, Disney's been crushed animation-wise, and that's just a big problem."
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!