Universal banks on 'Migration' to widen animation lead over Disney

Universal and Illumination's latest animated film, "Migration," tells the story of a family of ducks who embark on a journey from their New England pond to Jamaica, but end up getting lost in New York City. The film is expected to make around $25 million in its domestic debut, although Universal has more conservative estimates of $10-15 million. While these numbers may not match the $100 million-plus debuts of Universal's other films like "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" and the latest "Minions" film, it is comparable to the success of "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish," which grossed nearly $500 million globally.

On the other hand, Disney's recent animated film, "Wish," failed to connect with audiences, earning only $55.2 million in the U.S. and Canada. This is in contrast to the success of "Trolls Band Together," which made $30 million in its three-day debut and nearly $180 million worldwide. Disney's struggles can be attributed to the impact of the Covid pandemic, as well as a sense from audiences that their content has become too focused on social issues beyond the reach of children.

Meanwhile, Universal's animation arms, Illumination and DreamWorks, have thrived. Films like "Minions: The Rise of Gru" and "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" have achieved box office success, with the latter earning over $1.3 billion. Universal's success can be attributed to its focus on entertaining and simple animated films that resonate with family audiences. Additionally, the studio has been successful in revisiting fan-favorite stories and characters, which helps to capture the attention of both parents and children.

In summary, Universal's "Migration" is expected to perform well at the box office, adding to the success of the studio's animation brand. While Disney has struggled to connect with audiences in recent years, Universal's focus on entertainment and familiarity has resonated with moviegoers. The success of "Migration" could solidify Universal's position as a go-to brand for quality animation, potentially rivaling Pixar in the future.


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