It was a total zoo at the box office this past weekend! Moviegoers had quite a range of new and semi-new releases to screen. From action, to comedy, to thriller, and yes, even family friendly, this weekend had something for almost everyone.

Despite the opening of the highly anticipated J.J. Abrams-produced “spiritual sequel” to 2008’s found-footage monster film of a similar name, 10 Cloverfield Lane, the new suspense-thriller entry in this enigmatic saga came in second place this weekend, losing to Disney Animation Studio's relentless powerhouse, Zootopia. A seemingly disappointing end to the weekend for fans of both Abrams and the original Cloverfield film, but really, it wasn't a bad weekend for 10 Cloverfield Lane at all; with a meager production budget of only $5 million, the film nearly quintupled that amount in earnings its opening weekend.

And Zootopia doubled that amount even - in its second weekend open, the film brought in another $51.3 million in ticket revenue. That's only down about 31% from last weekend, which is amazing! Most animated films drop nearly 40-50% in their second weekend. For example, Frozen's second weekend of national release box office revenue dropped by 53%, Dreamworks’ first Kung Fu Panda dropped 44%, and even last year’s Disney Best Animated Feature winner Inside Out fell by 42%. This is pretty huge. It's safe to say that Zootopia is going to keep dominating the box office listings for a couple weeks to come if it's in a whole 10-22% better shape than some of its predecessors.

But let's not forget our fast-talking buddy Deadpool, which claimed the #3 spot for its fifth week on the charts. Like Zootopia, Deadpool is also doing exceedingly well numbers-wise. For its fifth weekend open, its revenue only dropped about 34% from the previous weekend, which is nearly 3-5% better in comparison to other heavy hitters such as Jurassic World and The Force Awakens for their respective fifth weekend numbers.

This weekend's particular top three (Zootopia, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Deadpool) is something studios should pay attention to, but the cynic in me says they probably won’t. Or if they do, it’ll be for the wrong reasons.

Here’s why they should be taking notes: these three films, though one of them is technically a sequel and the other is a comic book adaptation, are original in nature.

Deadpool has been talked about to death (which is fitting for his character), and many people have been vocal about how we will likely see a slew of R-rated superhero films because of its success, despite the rating not being the reason for the overwhelming positivity. 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of my most-anticipated films of the year so far, and unfortunately I haven’t seen it yet. But my unknowing actually supports my point; I have only seen a few trailers, and most of them have only teased, giving away next to nothing in terms of plot. In our age of the internet spoiling things months before they are released, not to mention trailers giving away entire plots regularly, this is a huge deal. And finally Zootopia is a mystery-comedy about anthropomorphic animals living in a beautiful city that touches on issues of race and gender. We’ve seen talking animals before, but not like this.

Unfortunately, the studios likely only see the foul-mouthed spandex, mysterious video transmissions, or colorful animal societies as massive moneymakers instead of the originality under the skin of these pictures. But if the box office numbers show anything at all, it’s that originality pays, both monetarily and critically. We can only hope the R-rated superhero film or the enigmatic marketing campaign doesn’t become gimmicky and ruined, when the reason these films are so successful are their originality of the actual content, and not their descriptors.

Art is what it is, not how it is described and marketed.

-Adam Stutsman

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