Sunday, 1 October 2017

Might the movie do better in the UK than the US?

An interesting compilation of vague first impressions of the movie here on NeoGAF by ShinySylvee; that page itself is spoiler-free, but some of the links from there are not. Apparently the embargo on full reviews expires today, so the vague things above will probably be overshadowed – but the first signs are that the film was received pretty well. Okay, now to the main stuff.

This post is spoiler-free

This weekend sees the first public previews of My Little Pony: The Movie on the other side of the Atlantic. Inevitably, that's going to mean lots of people spewing spoilers all over everywhere, which isn't something I'm looking forward to but is probably something that's unavoidable. However, it also means people wondering about how well the film will do at the box office.

In the US, MLP's wide release on 6 October is going up against Blade Runner 2049, a behemoth by comparison – and one which has received ecstatic early reviews from the critics. (At the time of writing, it has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 98%.) It would take a miracle of epic proportions for Pony to match either BR's critical reception or its commercial performance, and I don't expect it to get close on either score.

Here in the UK, however, we have to put up with waiting another fortnight, until 20 October, to see the film. (I've seen a few hints of some 19 October previews, but I have no hard information.) And you know, there's not a great deal of competition on that date. The Lego Ninjago Movie arrives on the 13th, and that's the only big release I can see to target much the same audience.

Now, it's hardly a new thing for a film to flop in the States and do well over here. Watership Down did exactly that in 1978 – it's generally seen as a cult film in the US, but it was a major commercial hit in the UK. More recently, The Golden Compass did pretty well here and pretty badly in America, though its philosophy (real and perceived) might have had something to do with that.

I'm speculating here, but perhaps with MLP it might also be a factor that the G4 hypewagon is a little newer in the UK. It's only really since about 2014 that Hasbro UK have really pushed hard with bringing merch to us; previously, we tended either to have to import at inflated prices or, at best, wait a year or two for anything to appear. Similarly, our fandom, though small, is still quite strong.

One factor will be whether or not the UK's largest cinema chain, Odeon, decides to show the film. We already know that numbers two and three on the list, Vue and Cineworld, will – but Odeon carrying it would make a big difference. As things stand, it will be more prominent than Equestria Girls, but not that much more. It would be great if British cinemas went all-out with the MLP movie.

So, while I hope My Little Pony: The Movie will do at least well enough to put the memory of the commercial failure that was its 1986 namesake to bed, I don't expect it to be a $100 million blockbuster or anything. It doesn't need to be, really, as long as it drives toy sales enough. But it wouldn't altogether astonish me if it turned out to be a bigger hit outside its North American homeland.


  1. The movie has to be successful no matter what, it will be a huge boost for the franchise, financial and popularity, I pray for its success.

    1. The 1986 movie was a major flop. Did it kill the My Little Pony brand? No. The 2017 movie isn't something that will kill Hasbro if it fails. Naturally I want it to be a success and be, as you say, a huge boost for the franchise – but while it's important for Hasbro, it's not a life-or-death thing for the company.

  2. Some interesting points raised. I'm very glad that it won't be in competition with the LEGO Ninjago movie. Regardless of how those 2 actually compare, they're still both kids movies featuring big brands.

    Interesting that you put Vue and Cineworld 2nd and 3rd. I'd have thought Showcase might be further up, but I'm only going on the cinemas I've seen around.

    I definitely want to see Bladerunner 2049 now.

    1. I have to be honest and say I think Ninjago would have beaten MLP had the two gone head to head. The Lego brand just has stronger recognition across the age spectrum, especially since The Lego Movie.

      Using Wikipedia, which I know isn't always entirely accurate, Odeon has about 120 cinemas, Vue has 85, Cineworld 82 and Showcase 20. I'd guess you get a different impression because Showcase is based in the East Midlands – its first three cinemas were Nottingham, Derby and Peterborough.

      Everything I've seen about Bladerunner 2049 suggests it really is very good. I doubt I'll see it until it's available on a home format, but I might well do so then.

    2. Fair enough.. that explains it then! During the (fairly long) periods where I don't venture further beyond the boundaries of my own city, the only cinema I'm faced with is an enormous Showcase, hence the bias. But now I know. :)