I was thinking, when it comes to Disney movies, what characters come to mind? Cinderella, Elsa, Snow White, Tiana. So why is it then that male-led Disney movies outnumber female-led by two to one? Do they make more money? I decided to run the numbers and take a look.
|The Little Mermaid||F||1989||40||211||171|
|The Rescuers Down Under||M||1990||37||47||10|
|Beauty & the Beast||F||1991||25||424||399|
|The Lion King||M||1994||45||987||942|
|The Hunchback of Notre Dame||M||1996||100||325||225|
|The Emperor's New Groove||M||2000||100||169||69|
|Atlantis: The Lost Empire||M||2001||110||186||76|
|Lilo & Stitch||F||2002||80||273||193|
|Home on the Range||F||2004||110||103||-7|
|Meet the Robinsons||M||2007||195||169||-26|
|The Princess & the Frog||F||2009||105||267||162|
|Winnie the Pooh||M||2011||30||44||14|
|Big Hero 6||M||2014||??||??|
Standard Deviation: 278
Someone smarter than me can analyze these figures, but it seems that some basic statistical analysis tells the whole story. There may be more male-led movies, but they have a bigger tendency towards failure. Female-led have a lesser failure rate, with the only big loss being Home on the Range (in as far as Roseanne Barr playing a cow can be called female-led). The Lion King is Disney's biggest hit, and remained "the king" with the biggest profit margin until Frozen came along.
Some other notes:
- Wow, I had no idea Rescuers Down Under was such a bomb. That's usually the dark horse of the Disney movies -- one everyone likes as adults looking through nostalgia goggles.
- Disney doubled its budget on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Why? Did they have a troubled production a la Empire of the Sun/The Emperor's New Groove? Did buying the rights to the book cost a lot? What was different?
- Like Rescuers Down Under, I find a lot of people enjoyed Emperor's New Groove (at least through the memes), but the numbers don't show it. Maybe there are certain movies that have a better long tail than other, and I wonder if there's a pattern to that.
- Treasure Planet is Disney's first deficit within this timeline. I haven't seen the movie myself.
- At Tangled, Disney makes a big jump in their budget. It's their first combo princess-CG movie, that might have had something to do with it.
- They say Wreck-It Ralph is a Disney movie, but it sure felt more like a Pixar movie to me. You got a director and a writer known for episodes of "The Simpsons" and another writer known for WALL-E.
That being said, it seems to me that Disney would be smart enough to start using more female-protagonist movies. They don't have to be princess movies, but that does seem to be their bread and butter. Too bad Disney doesn't have some sort of equivalent for boys. Disney Supers? Maybe that's where they're going for with Big Hero 6? Time will tell.