Finding Dory was where Disney found the treasure it was looking for. A sequel to Finding Nemo, this movie was slated to be a blockbuster hit for the production house. However, no one could have ever predicted the phenomenal success that the movie has enjoyed. The movie ended up breaking a lot of records and left Disney with a number of lessons to continue its winning streak.
2015 was not the best year for Disney. It was almost December and this behemoth producer was still struggling to reach the $5 billion mark. On the other hand, its rival, Universal, had already touched that elusive figure by July, thanks to the crackling success of its fantasy movie, Jurassic World. However, 2016 put Disney back on the map and a lot of the credit goes to Finding Dory. Disney had no problem touching the $5 billion mark by July this year. Finding Dory broke many records in the process. It enjoyed the biggest weekend debut for an animated film at $136.2 million, the biggest Friday opening for a cartoon film at $55 million, and highest ever average per theater at $31,634 for each screen. Finding Dory went on to become the highest grossing film of the year at over $422m in domestic business and, of course, the highest earner for the producer to date.
The secret behind the phenomenal success of Finding Dory can be attributed to the nostalgia that the movie has tapped into. Finding Nemo, where it all began, came out a good 13 years ago and was a ‘90s kids’ favorite. So, when Finding Dory was announced, it was not just another animated movie from Disney, it was a trip down the memory lane for the people who are now in their twenties. People swamped the theaters to relive a beloved memory, and Disney did not disappoint them. So, the target demographic for this movie expanded. The same can be said for another superhit delivered by the production house this year: The Jungle Book, a good movie with great animation. However, it was the nostalgia attached to the franchise that helped fill up the theaters.
A whole generation has grown young in the time that has elapsed between Nemo and Dory. Not only have the kids who watched Finding Nemo grown up, but the artists who worked in it have become big names now. In this case, it was Ellen DeGeneres. Her talk show is hugely popular and the celebrity has not left any stone unturned in promoting the movie. This has certainly given a huge boost to the ticket sales.
The production house has now made a conscious effort towards expanding their target demographic. It is not only doing that by recreating the “classics,” but by making the content of its animation movies more mature. Zootopia, for instance, is a fresh concept. It has no predecessor, but was still not completely advertised as a kid’s movie. The story line is complex with well-developed characters and implicit messages. There is no preaching, but a good story with characters displaying different shades of grey. It also touches upon issues like bullying, racism, and more. This is something that you will not expect from a kids’ movie. So, the recent spree of successful movies that have come out of the Walt Disney studios has a lot to do with its newfound ability to reach beyond the kids and attract the larger population of adults as well. Disney movies are no longer limited to kids and their parents, but for teenagers and adults as well.
Disney appears to have found a formula that is working well for it. The company will dish out many more such revivals to some of its popular older characters and movies. Tapping into nostalgia can be tricky business, because you are promising to revive treasured memories. So, expectations are pretty high.
Disney has ensured that every movie has the distinctive characters and great stories. Creating an immersive world around these two things is another major achievement for Disney’s animated films.
2016 is far from over and Disney has a promising lineup of movies in store. There is Pete’s Dragon in August, Marvel’s Doctor Strange in November, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in December. Movies like Marvel’s Doctor Strange are eagerly awaited and have the potential to create more box office records. Without a doubt, this is going to be an incredible year for Disney.