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Who Will Win 2016's Cuddly Animated Animal Showdown?

By Kristy Puchko | Lists | May 25, 2016 |

By Kristy Puchko | Lists | May 25, 2016 |

Earlier this year, Disney thrilled critics, audiences and even us Overlords with their inventive buddy cop romp Zootopia. But this is just one of the furry animal-fronted animated features hitting theaters this year. Can one of this pack break out to topple the new Disney classic?

It’s no easy task. Zootopia currently boasts a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is still in the top ten at the box office, 12 weeks after its opening. And its world-wide earnings to date are $983,771,801.

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Notably, Kung Fu Panda 3 came out months ahead of Zootopia. Despite having the lovable Jack Black and a successful franchise on its side, the sequel only earned $516,833,576 worldwide with a RT score of 86%. Moving forward, what could compete with a Disney juggernaut that’s nearing the $1 billion mark?

Off to a strong start is Sony’s Angry Birds. On its opening weekend, it brought in $38k domestic, and has already made more than $152,000,000 worldwide. Based on the popular video game, it has a branding edge on the original property Zootopia. Plus its voice cast is stacked with stars from Kate McKinnon and Peter Dinklage to Blake Shelton and Frozen’s Josh Gad. It might be rotten, but it’s making bank.

Also playing off a pre-established brand is Ice Age 5: Collision Course. While critics have been panning these flicks since their first sequel, the franchise has continued to bring big fat profits. However, the last installment didn’t beat the third, tapping out at $877k. So this prehistoric clan may be on the decline.

Illumination Entertainment, the production company behind Despicable Me and Minions, will enter the fray with their July release The Secret Life of Pets. Not only does the story tug on any animal-lover’s heartstrings, but also this jaunty adventure features voicework from such adored comedians as Jenny Slate (also in Zootopia), Ellie Kemper, Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks, Hannibal Buress, Steve Coogan, Bobby Moynihan and Louis C.K. So, it could tap into more than kids and parents/guardians.

But that’s not Illumination’s only bid this year. They’ve teamed with Fuzzy Door for Sing, a musical comedy that’s basically American Idol with quirky critters. And they’ve snagged stars like Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Leslie Jones, John C. Reilly and Nick Offerman. With a Christmas release date, it’s clear the hopes are high for this song-driven adventure. And the first trailer is pretty damn charming.

Nonetheless, Disney’s biggest competition might be Disney—Well, Disney/Pixar—because next month will see the release of the long-awaited Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory. The first film enjoys a 99% RT score, and took in $936,743,261 at the worldwide box office. So, how might its follow-up do led by one of Pixar’s most beloved characters?

In comments, tell us which of the above animal-centered animated movies you’re most anticipating.

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Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.