Which Animated Feature Genres Are Audiences Looking For?

Viewers are seeking more comedy, adventure and fantasy titles, a Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll finds.
Sony Pictures Animation; Courtesy of Disney•Pixar; Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
From left: Sony's 'Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse'; Disney's 'Toy Story 4'; Warner Bros.' 'Lego Movie 2'

With Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse arriving in theaters this weekend and bringing a new wave of attention to animated features — not to mention an unusual level of critical excitement — animation has become a staple part of most movie viewers’ menu, according to a new Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll. 

Some 70 percent of the 2,202 adults polled between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2 have a favorable view of animated products, with just 23 percent having an unfavorable view. Live-action movies, for comparison, have a 73 percent favorability and 19 percent unfavorability. Women are more likely to be in favor of animated projects than men, with a 56-point net favorability for the former, versus 37 points for men.

The favorite genres audiences have when it comes to animated fare? Comedy, adventure and fantasy scored highest, with 62 percent, 57 percent and 55 percent of those answering enjoying those genres, respectively. The least popular genre for animation was horror, surprisingly, at 54 percent dislike — all the more surprising because it came below documentary, at 52 percent. Romance was next on the list, with 50 percent disapproval in a result that might surprise anyone who’s seen a Disney animated movie at any point in their lives.

Most animated films are watched at home, by a considerable degree, the survey found. A total of 40 percent of those polled said that they usually watched animated features via a streaming or on-demand service, compared with just 12 percent who watch in theaters. (For those curious, those numbers are almost identical to those for live-action movies: 41 percent via streaming or on demand, 12 percent in theaters.)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, parents are more likely to see animated features in theaters (27 percent of parents reported that to be a regular occurrence), but they are also significantly more likely to stream animated movies than the general public, with 46 percent reporting that to be the case, compared with 33 percent of non-parents.

The most popular terms to describe animation from those polled were positive — 80 percent would use “creative,” with 76 percent also going for “entertaining” — with “boring” and “dull” being roundly rejected as adjectives, as 64 percent and 65 percent of those polled said that those respective terms did not describe animation. (It’s not all good news, however; 48 percent also described animation as “childish,” with 51 percent calling it “unrealistic,” although that might just be accurate in a form that regularly includes talking animals.)

In terms of upcoming animated features, The Lion King and Toy Story 4 are the most eagerly anticipated releases with 60 percent and 48 percent of respondents likely to watch in theaters, respectively, while 34 percent said the same of Sony’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Overall, women were more likely to see animated movies in theaters than men (although Spider-Verse bucked that trend, as 38 percent of men more likely to keep up with the multiple arachnid-inspired heroes, compared with 31 percent of women).

Of the 2,202 people responding to the survey, 1031 (47 percent) were male and 1171 (53 percent) female. Eighty-one percent were white, with 13 percent black and 10 percent Hispanic. Of those taking part, 60 percent were parents.