The My Little Pony Movie leaked just before it hit the theaters thanks to an overseas movie worker posting the film online. But if this leak hurt the movie, Hasbro is still likely to make a modest profit, which was likely the goal. Opening weekend brought about $10 million, slightly more than expected. The production budget has not been announced, but is likely somewhere around that same number (as opposed to some of these detailed CGI movies that can cost $100 million or more.)
The movie’s advertising budget is also an unknown, but likely low as well as it seems to be aimed at its already-established and loyal audience. Hasbro seems to have bet on its brony community to do the bulk of the advertising free of charge, and that bet has paid off. Armies of bronies have kept communities updated through conventions, Facebook groups and fan news sites.
Although profits from the movie are likely to be modest, there are many circumstances to consider. Judging by the low budget and the fact that it’s Lionsgate’s first major animated movie, it’s fair to guess that this movie was largely experimental. Hasbro, partnered with Lionsgate, is testing the waters and getting a feel for the movie market.
But most important to consider is Hasbro’s apparent marketing focus: merchandise.
The day after the movie premiered, the rest of Season 7 leaked online. This wasn’t the first time these episodes made it online and it probably isn’t accidental (although the movie is another matter.)
At around Season 3 and Season 4, Hasbro made more of an effort to keep episodes off of YouTube. But that effort went lax and Hasbro even began releasing its own episodes on YouTube the same week they premiered on Discovery Family.
The likely reason for that is because bronies spend a lot of money on swag. It’s not uncommon for a brony to fill an entire room with stuffed animals, figurines, posters, and then to wear several different My Little Pony T-shirts to conventions or just running around town.
Just from viewing the movie, brony fans can tell which characters, locations and vehicles were added with marketing in mind. Already, stores are filling up with sky ships, anthromorphic cats, costumes and sea ponies. While the movie is likely to make a modest profit, the true test on whether or not Hasbro’s plans have succeeded will come in about two months.
Because it’s certainly no coincidence that the movie was released and the episodes leaked so close to Christmas.