What Makes the Franchise Unique Amongst Family Movies


2022 marks the conclusion of the Hotel Transylvania film series with the release of Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. Originally intended for release in theaters, the film was delayed and sold to Amazon Prime. The release marked a milestone as, alongside Toy Story and Shrekthe Hotel Transylvania film series is one of the rare animated franchises to reach the quadrilogy.

It also arrived ten years after the release of the first Hotel Transylvania in 2012. Since that original film, the franchise focuses on the adventures surrounding monsters who reside in a plaza hotel where monsters can relax and get away from humans due to fear of persecution, all under the ownership of Drac (Adam Sandler), his only daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her boyfriend / husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) the film series deals with Drac learning to grow and adapt to a changing world, as he must open up both his hotel and himself to new possibilities. The film features a wide variety of celebrity voice casts from Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Fran Drescher, Kathryn Hann, Keegan Michael Key, Mel Brooks, David Spade, and Molly Shannon and showcases a variety of monsters, many of them homages to the classic Universal Monsters.

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At a time when the animation industry was dominated by Pixar, Walt Disney Animation, Dreamworks, and Illumination Entertainment, while Adam Sandler’s live-action movies were losing their way with audiences and critics, the Hotel Transylvania movies found a way to stand out among the rest. Yet what is it about this franchise that was so unique and how did it end up becoming such a consistent hit with audiences? Thanks in part to the animation style, the tone, and the family-friendly embrace of the monsters is what turned Hotel Transylvania into a box office successful franchise.

Animation Style of Hotel Transylvania

CGI animation tends to replicate a certain sense of reality, but the Hotel Transylvania films embrace their animated nature by having exaggerated expressions and physical movements, which embraces the artificial nature of animation. The Hotel Transylvania films are less influenced by the work of Pixar animation or even Walt Disney animated features but more by the over-the-top cartoonish movements found in Tex Avery and Chuck Jones Looney Tunes. The franchise uses these characters’ supernatural nature as a quick explanation for the gravity-defying actions the characters make. These are not realistic characters or realistic designs, so why should they follow the conventional rules of realism?


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Much of this is thanks to the work of franchise director Genndy Tartakovsky, who directed the first three films in the franchise. Tartakovsky has a rich background in animation, having created a vast array of animated series like Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jackand the original 2D Star Wars: Clone Wars animated shorts. While Samurai Jack and Clone Wars show his strengths as an action director, the animator’s rich knowledge of animation and love for the art form comes into play through the old-school influences of the franchise.

Primarily Comedy Franchise

Everyone knows going into a Pixar movie there will be a certain level of emotional maturity that is likely to make audiences cry. Thanks to Shrekthe DreamWorks animation films have a self-referential nature to them with a lot of pop culture references and jokes for older audiences, although later films like the Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon franchise pushed the emotional maturity.


The Hotel Transylvania films, though, are primarily silly comedies. There are emotional moments, like the reveal of Dracula’s wife’s death in the first film, but the series’ primary focus is on exploring all the visual and humorous concepts these monsters allow for. This is more apparent in the sequels, as the structure of the films becomes more of a series of humorous sketches. The movies barely feature villains, and the few that exist are almost afterthoughts. Given the presence of Adam Sandler and many of his comedic friends, the Hotel Transylvania movies have a lot in common with his Happy Madison productions. These are good-time vibe films, about enjoying colorful characters with the primary goal to make the audience laugh with jokes, slapstick, or visual gags in the background.


Box Office Success of Hotel Transylvania

One thing worth noting about the Hotel Transylvania film series, until Sony Pictures sent the fourth film to streamingis that each film grossed subsequently more money than the previous film at the box office. Hotel Transylvania grossed $ 148 million domestically, with Hotel Transylvania 2 grossing $ 169 million domestically.

In 2012, Hotel Transylvania’s opening weekend of $ 42 million made it the biggest opening weekend for the month of September, the record later broken three years later by Hotel Transylvania 2 with $ 48 million. This gave Sony Pictures the confidence to release the third movie, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation in a prime summer slot. Yet just because this franchise worked in the off-season did not necessarily mean it could succeed in the summer. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation grossed $ 167 million domestically, down two million from its predecessor, but the worldwide total of $ 527 million made it the most successful entry in the franchise. At a time when other animated franchises like the Cars movies or the How To Train Your Dragon trilogy were earning less with each installment, the fact that Hotel Transylvania kept growing spoke to the endurance of the films.


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This ever-growing box office success made Sony Pictures’ decision to sell the movie to Amazon all the more confusing, as the franchise has been a consistent moneymaker and a winner with family audiences over the past ten years.

Introduction To Classic Monsters For Younger Crowds

One of the things that have made the Hotel Transylvania films so enduring after all these years is the fact that they are family-friendly movie versions of the classic monsters. This makes them a great entry point for younger audiences members, like this for many will become their first exposure to the classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, a werewolf, and more. These animated films give kids a safe comfortable association with them, taking elements that may frighten them and teaching kids a valuable lesson in knowing there is no need to be scared. Then thanks to the exposure, kids who watch the movies will seek out these characters in other mediums.

This also in effect makes them perfect annual viewing around Halloween for families. Parents can show their kids the Hotel Transylvania films during the holiday as a friendly spooky alternative, and kids will associate the franchise with the holiday as something they want to revisit themselves or with their kids later on. In the same way that The Nightmare Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus have endured as family-friendly Halloween classics, the Hotel Transylvania films will surely be around for generations to come.



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