(Photo by Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection. Thumbnail: DreamWorks SKG, Buena Vista Pictures, Fox Searchlight, Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection)

30 Best Stop-Motion Animated Movies of All Time

Tangible and physical, stop-motion animation is the art of manipulating objects and figures frame by frame, creating the illusion of fluid movement. It’s an almost atavistic art form of ours: Instinct tells us if you have a lump of clay in your hands, start making stuff out of it. Shape a chicken and a fox, mold some pirates, heck, make a movie. It’s what filmmakers have been doing for over a century, so we’re taking a look through time with the 30 best stop-motion animated movies ever made.

In this guide, we’ll come in contact with the different materials and styles used in stop motion. Clay has led to the creation of one of animation’s most enduring man-and-canine duos, Wallace and Gromit, created by Nick Park. His films and studio, Aardman, have an outsized presence in that scene, with the likes of Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep. Paper cutout stop-motion animation is less frequently used. See it at its trippy best with Fantastic Planet, and in The Adventures of Prince Achmed, the oldest surviving animated film.

Puppet stop-motion animation has been the preferred method for venerable directors like Tim Burton (producer of The Nightmare Before Christmas), Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa), and Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox). Anderson collaborated with Nightmare-director Henry Selick to animate the marine fauna in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; afterwards, Selick set up shop at studio Laika, where he gave them their first big hit, Coraline. Laika has been a stop-motion powerhouse since, using a cutting-edge mix of puppets, clay, and computer enhancements to fuel a string of Certified Fresh films, including The Boxtrolls and Kubo and the Two Strings.

We included only movies where stop motion is a majority of the presentation, which opened the way for James and the Giant Peach and Jan Švankmajer’s twisted Alice. So while we adore the individual creature effects by Ray Harryhausen in Jason and the Argonauts and the Sinbad movies, or ED-209 in RoboCop, and even the aforementioned Life Aquatic, you won’t be seeing them here. After we collected the 30 highest-rated movies, we sorted the list by Adjusted Tomatometer, which accounts for the movie’s number of reviews and release year.

Now, read on to discover the 30 best stop-motion animated movies!

#30
#30
Adjusted Score: 74481%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Three residents (Robert Levy, Nancy Andrews, Chris Sullivan) of a small Rust Belt town lead sad, interconnected lives.... [More]
Directed By: Chris Sullivan

#29

$9.99 (2008)
73%

#29
Adjusted Score: 73466%
Critics Consensus: Its storyline isn't as wondrous as its visuals, but $9.99 has a sophistication and handmade charm that sets it apart from the animated pack.
Synopsis: Residents of a Sydney, Australia, apartment complex look for meaning in their lives.... [More]
Directed By: Tatia Rosenthal

#28
#28
Adjusted Score: 83188%
Critics Consensus: A Town Called Panic is a raucous, endlessly creative animated romp with a quirky, adult sense of humor.
Synopsis: In this animated film, Cowboy (Stéphane Aubier) and Indian (Bruce Ellison) plan to construct a barbecue pit for the birthday... [More]

#27

The Boxtrolls (2014)
78%

#27
Adjusted Score: 84178%
Critics Consensus: While it's far from Laika's best offering, The Boxtrolls is still packed with enough offbeat wit and visual splendor to offer a healthy dose of all-ages entertainment.
Synopsis: Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), an orphan, lives with the Boxtrolls -- a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who inhabit a cavern... [More]

#26

Early Man (2018)
80%

#26
Adjusted Score: 90372%
Critics Consensus: Early Man isn't quite as evolved as Aardman's best work, but still retains the unique visuals and sweet humor that have made the studio a favorite among animation enthusiasts.
Synopsis: A plucky cave man named Dug, his sidekick Hognob and the rest of their tribe face a grave threat to... [More]
Directed By: Nick Park

#25
#25
Adjusted Score: 91846%
Critics Consensus: As can be expected from a Tim Burton movie, Corpse Bride is whimsically macabre, visually imaginative, and emotionally bittersweet.
Synopsis: Victor (Johnny Depp) and Victoria's (Emily Watson) families have arranged their marriage. Though they like each other, Victor is nervous... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson

#24
Adjusted Score: 92198%
Critics Consensus: It may not quite scale Aardman's customary delirious heights, but The Pirates! still represents some of the smartest, most skillfully animated fare that modern cinema has to offer.
Synopsis: Accompanied by his ragtag crew, an enthusiastic pirate captain (Hugh Grant) sails the high seas and dreams of besting his... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lord

#23
Adjusted Score: 91449%
Critics Consensus: Have no fear! Mrs Claus spreads holiday cheer in The Year Without Santa, a holiday classic full of unforgettable songs and characters that stays true to the Christmas spirit.
Synopsis: Two elves try to save Christmas after disgruntled Saint Nick (John Goodman) decides to take the year off.... [More]
Directed By: Ron Underwood

#22

Le Roman de Renard (1930)
100%

#22
Adjusted Score: 81269%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: King Lion orders Master Fox arrested for tricking animals.... [More]

#21

Fantastic Planet (1973)
91%

#21
Adjusted Score: 90532%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Planet is an animated epic that is by turns surreal and lovely, fantastic and graceful.
Synopsis: This animated tale follows the relationship between the small human-like Oms and their much larger blue-skinned oppressors, the Draags, who... [More]
Directed By: René Laloux

#20
Adjusted Score: 92688%
Critics Consensus: Arriving with light-hearted cheeriness and the best musical numbers, Santa Claus Is Comin To Town is a magical story told by charming wood-figure animation.
Synopsis: ... [More]

#19

ParaNorman (2012)
89%

#19
Adjusted Score: 95751%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully animated and solidly scripted, ParaNorman will entertain (and frighten) older children while providing surprisingly thoughtful fare for their parents.
Synopsis: Young Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) has the ability to speak with the dead -- and he often prefers their company... [More]
Directed By: Chris Butler, Sam Fell

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 94369%
Critics Consensus: The arresting and dynamic visuals, offbeat details and light-as-air storytelling make James and the Giant Peach solid family entertainment.
Synopsis: Featuring stop-motion animation and live action, this inventive adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's tale follows the adventures of James... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#17

Frankenweenie (2012)
87%

#17
Adjusted Score: 96448%
Critics Consensus: Frankenweenie is an energetic stop-motion horror movie spoof with lovingly crafted visuals and a heartfelt, oddball story.
Synopsis: Young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is a science nerd and outsider at school, but he does have one good friend:... [More]
Directed By: Tim Burton

#16

Missing Link (2019)
88%

#16
Adjusted Score: 97228%
Critics Consensus: Another beautifully animated triumph for Laika, Missing Link is a visual treat with lots of humor, plenty of heart, and even a little food for thought.
Synopsis: Tired of living a solitary life in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Link -- 8 feet tall and covered in fur... [More]
Directed By: Chris Butler

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 97518%
Critics Consensus: Beautifully animated and faithful to the spirit of its classic source material, The Little Prince is a family-friendly treat that anchors thrilling visuals with a satisfying story.
Synopsis: The Aviator introduces a girl to a world where she rediscovers her childhood and learns that it's human connections that... [More]
Directed By: Mark Osborne

#14

Mary and Max (2009)
95%

#14
Adjusted Score: 96954%
Critics Consensus: Mary and Max is a lovingly crafted, startlingly inventive piece of animation whose technical craft is equaled by its emotional resonance.
Synopsis: A lonely Australian girl (Toni Collette) and an elderly Jewish man (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in New York develop an unlikely... [More]
Directed By: Adam Elliot

#13

Coraline (2009)
90%

#13
Adjusted Score: 101330%
Critics Consensus: With its vivid stop-motion animation combined with Neil Gaiman's imaginative story, Coraline is a film that's both visually stunning and wondrously entertaining.
Synopsis: While exploring her new home, a girl named Coraline (Dakota Fanning) discovers a secret door, behind which lies an alternate... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#12
Adjusted Score: 100862%
Critics Consensus: A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon retains the charm of its small-screen source material while engagingly expanding the title character's world.
Synopsis: When a UFO crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, it's up to Shaun the sheep and his animal friends to help... [More]

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 102151%
Critics Consensus: Fantastic Mr. Fox is a delightfully funny feast for the eyes with multi-generational appeal -- and it shows Wes Anderson has a knack for animation.
Synopsis: After 12 years of bucolic bliss, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) breaks a promise to his wife (Meryl Streep) and raids... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

#10

Alice (1989)
95%

#10
Adjusted Score: 95882%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In Czech director Jan Svankmajer's surreal adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic children's book, Alice (Kristyna Kohoutova) follows her stuffed rabbit... [More]
Directed By: Jan Svankmajer

#9
Adjusted Score: 102220%
Critics Consensus: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a subtly touching and wonderfully eccentric adventure featuring Wallace and Gromit.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Steve Box

#8

Anomalisa (2015)
92%

#8
Adjusted Score: 108420%
Critics Consensus: Anomalisa marks another brilliant and utterly distinctive highlight in Charlie Kaufman's filmography, and a thought-provoking treat for fans of introspective cinema.
Synopsis: An inspirational speaker (David Thewlis) becomes reinvigorated after meeting a lively woman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who shakes up his mundane... [More]

#7
Adjusted Score: 103700%
Critics Consensus: The Nightmare Before Christmas is a stunningly original and visually delightful work of stop-motion animation.
Synopsis: The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown's beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual... [More]
Directed By: Henry Selick

#6

Chicken Run (2000)
97%

#6
Adjusted Score: 103668%
Critics Consensus: Chicken Run has all the charm of Nick Park's Wallace & Gromit, and something for everybody. The voice acting is fabulous, the slapstick is brilliant, and the action sequences are spectacular.
Synopsis: This engaging stop-motion, claymation adventure tells the story of an American rooster who falls in love with a gorgeous hen... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lord, Nick Park

#5
Adjusted Score: 103465%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A handsome prince with a flying horse befriends a witch, meets Aladdin, and battles demons to win a princess' heart.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Lotte Reiniger, Karl Koch

#4
#4
Adjusted Score: 107767%
Critics Consensus: My Life as a Zucchini's silly title and adorable characters belie a sober story whose colorful visuals delight the senses even as it braves dark emotional depths.
Synopsis: A police officer (Nick Offerman) and some new friends help an orphan adjust to life at a foster home.... [More]
Directed By: Claude Barras

#3
#3
Adjusted Score: 105619%
Critics Consensus: Warm, funny, and brilliantly animated, Shaun the Sheep is yet another stop-motion jewel in Aardman's family-friendly crown.
Synopsis: All is well at Mossy Bottom Farm, except for the fact that the animals will do anything to get out... [More]

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 110022%
Critics Consensus: Kubo and the Two Strings matches its incredible animation with an absorbing -- and bravely melancholy -- story that has something to offer audiences of all ages.
Synopsis: Young Kubo's (Art Parkinson) peaceful existence comes crashing down when he accidentally summons a vengeful spirit from the past. Now... [More]
Directed By: Travis Knight

#1

Isle of Dogs (2018)
90%

#1
Adjusted Score: 111580%
Critics Consensus: The beautifully stop-motion animated Isle of Dogs finds Wes Anderson at his detail-oriented best while telling one of the director's most winsomely charming stories.
Synopsis: When, by executive decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump called Trash Island,... [More]
Directed By: Wes Anderson

In Theaters This Week:



Strange Magic

18%

Rating: PG, for some action and scary images.

This is an animated, musical fantasy from the mind of George Lucas which also contains elements of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you think it sounds like there’s a lot going on there, you’re right. It all takes place in an enchanted land which has been split in two: There’s the Fairy Kingdom and the Dark Forest. A plucky fairy princess (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood) dares to enter the scary neighboring territory, where she makes an unexpected connection with the mean, lonely Bog King (Alan Cumming). And they do it all in song! Some of the colors and background elements are vibrantly colorful and beautifully detailed, but the characters’ and creatures’ faces are stiff and rubbery in an off-putting way. The music — a mix of pop songs from the past 60 years or so, ranging from Elvis Presley to Bob Marley to Beyonce — is incessant and overbearing. And some of the homelier creatures, including the Bog King (who’s some sort of insect hybrid), might frighten younger viewers. OK for most ages. But I’d go see Paddington first.

New On DVD:



The Boxtrolls

78%

Rating: PG, for action, some peril and mild rude humor.

The adventures in this family-friendly comedy are pretty tame — it’s the details that might freak your kids out a bit. The painstaking stop-motion animation results in a major dark streak and a prevailing grotesquery which may be too much for the youngest viewers. Beneath a quaintly dreary English village lives a population of creatures called the Boxtrolls. They are industrious and mischievous and misunderstood. They also have a young, orphaned boy living among them who’s known as Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) because they all take their names from the boxes they wear: Fish, Shoe, etc. A dastardly and socially ambitious villain with the Dickensian name of Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley) promises the city’s leaders he’ll eradicate the town of all Boxtrolls if they’ll let him join their elite white hat society. Snatcher loves cheese (as everyone in town does) but he’s allergic to it, swelling in disgusting fashion from a single bite. Children are often in peril or neglected, and there’s a subplot involving kidnapping. Suitable for kids around 6 and older.

The Oscar nominees were announced last Thursday, and we here at Rotten Tomatoes have been pretty fortunate to sit down and chat with a whole lot of them. If you’re still unsure who to root for in the Best Picture race, or you’d just like a little more info on the films being honored on February 22, check out our various interviews with the casts and filmmakers of Selma, The Theory of Everything, Nightcrawler, American Sniper, The Hobbit, and more.



 

 

This week on home video, we’ve got a new action thriller from Luc Besson, a mediocre Conjuring spinoff, and Laika’s latest stop-motion feature film. Then we also have a number of notable smaller films, like a Certified Fresh crime drama starring Tom Hardy and an acclaimed documentary about an internet activist. Read on for details:



Lucy

67%

French writer-director Luc Besson has been the brains behind some of the most gleefully brainless thrillers in recent memory, like the Taken franchise, and though he doesn’t get behind the camera as often as he once did, we still get something like Lucy every once in a while. Scarlett Johansson stars as an American ex-pat living in Taiwan who is forced to become a drug mule by a Korean mob boss. When the experimental drug begins seeping into her system, she begins to experience heightened physical and mental abilities, which she utilizes to seek revenge. Besson has a thing for powerful leading ladies, and Lucy seems to be aware of its own silliness, so critics were relatively kind to the film, ludicrous logic and all. It may dumbfound you and confound you, but if you’re looking for a cheesy actioner, this may do the trick.



Annabelle

29%

The very beginning of 2013’s horror hit The Conjuring introduced audiences to the paranormal team of Ed and Lorraine Warren via the story of a mysterious doll named Annabelle. While we wait for the sequel to that film, the producers thought, “Eh, why not throw’em a bone in the meantime?” Hence, last year’s Annabelle, a Conjuring spinoff that includes the same introductory scene from the earlier film and builds off that to explain the origins of the creepy possessed doll that makes things go bump in the night. Unfortunately, critics weren’t too impressed with the story, which, like a lot of horror films these days, simply borrows elements from better predecessors and attempts to jump-scare you into submission. At just 29 percent on the Tomatometer, Annabelle is kind of a poor appetizer for The Conjuring 2, but if you just want to spend more time in that universe, it’ll do.



The Boxtrolls

78%

The stop-motion animation studio Laika had great success with their first two features, 2009’s Coraline and 2012’s ParaNorman, so there was some anticipation for their third, The Boxtrolls. Isaac Hempstead-Wright leads an all-star voice cast as Eggs, a human boy raised by the titular Boxtrolls in an underground home beneath the city of Cheesebridge. The Boxtrolls are misunderstood, however, and when an exterminator named Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) vows to wipe them out, Eggs teams up with this first human friend, Winnie (Elle Fanning), to save his family. If you’ve seen the trailer for this film, you know that its visuals are both typically spectacular and a little off-kilter, which is also indicative of its sense of humor. Though it’s not Laika’s best effort to date, it’s still an entertaining family film that’s fascinating to watch.

Also available this week:

  • The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (93 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary about the programming wiz (and Reddit co-founder) whose tireless efforts in information activism resulted in legal troubles and, ultimately, suicide at the age of 26.
  • The Drop (89 percent), starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini in a Certified Fresh crime thriller about a bartender who gets targeted by the Chechen mob when a robbery goes awry.
  • The Mule (85 percent), a dark comedy about a drug mule who decides withhold evidence by not… performing his bodily functions.
  • The Green Prince (77 percent), a documentary about Mosab Hassan Yousef, a Palestinian who operated as an Israeli spy.
  • William H. Macy’s Rudderless (63 percent), starring Billy Crudup and Anton Yelchin in the story of a grieving father who discovers his son’s demo tapes and decides to form a band to play the music.
  • Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem (52 percent), starring Christoph Waltz and Matt Damon in a sci-fi drama about a computer genius tasked with discovering the meaning of life.
  • White Bird in a Blizzard (49 percent), starring Shailene Woodley in a coming-of-age drama about a young woman whose mother goes missing and who slowly comes to grips with the truth about the disappearance.
  • A Little Game, starring Janeane Garofalo and F. Murray Abraham in a family drama about a young girl who doesn’t get along with her peers but becomes unlikely friends with a local chess master.

Actor Chris Pine, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and directors Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams announced today the nominations for all 24 Oscar categories at a live news conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Read through for the full list of nominees.

BEST PICTURE

DIRECTING

ACTOR in a Leading Role

ACTRESS in a Leading Role

ACTOR in a Supporting Role

ACTRESS in a Supporting Role

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

CINEMATOGRAPHY

COSTUME DESIGN

FILM EDITING

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

MUSIC – Original Score

MUSIC – Original Song

  • “Everything Is Awesome”; Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson from The Lego Movie
  • “Glory”; Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn from Selma
  • “Grateful”; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren from Beyond the Lights
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”; Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond from Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me
  • “Lost Stars”; Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois from Begin Again

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration) for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Maria Djurkovic (Production Design); Tatiana Macdonald (Set Decoration) for The Imitation Game
  • Nathan Crowley (Production Design); Gary Fettis (Set Decoration) for Interstellar
  • Dennis Gassner (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration) for Into the Woods
  • Suzie Davies (Production Design); Charlotte Watts (Set Decoration) for Mr. Turner

SOUND EDITING

SOUND MIXING

  • John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin for American Sniper
  • Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga for Birdman
  • Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten for Interstellar
  • Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee for Unbroken
  • Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley for Whiplash

VISUAL EFFECTS

WRITING – Adapted Screenplay

WRITING – Original Screenplay

    • Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo for Birdman
    • Written by Richard Linklater for Boyhood
    • Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman for Foxcatcher
    • Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness for The Grand Budapest Hotel
    • Written by Dan Gilroy
      for Nightcrawler

 

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

SHORT FILM – Animated

SHORT FILM – Live Action

This week on streaming video, we’ve got a stop-motion animated film from the people who brought you Coraline and ParaNorman, a Certified Fresh crime thriller starring Tom Hardy, and a couple of uplifting stories from the UK. Then we’ve got a pair of noteworthy new choices on Netflix. Read on for the full list:


The Boxtrolls
78%

The titular creatures are kindly, goofy monsters that have raised a little boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) as one of their own. But the nefarious Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) wants to wipe out the Boxtrolls for personal gain, so it’s up to Eggs and his new friend Winnie (Elle Fanning) to stop him.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play


The Drop
89%

Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, and the late, great James Gandolfini star in this Certified Fresh crime drama about a late-night robbery that stirs up trouble within the neighborhood demimonde.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play


Pride
92%

Based on a true story, Pride stars Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton in a dramedy about a group of striking miners whose efforts are aided by a group of gay and lesbian activists.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes


Ways to Live Forever
83%

Based on the novel of the same name by Sally Nicholls, this drama centers on a science-minded boy with terminal leukemia who sets out to accomplish and investigate a series of curious items he’s compiled in a list.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


The Honorable Woman: Season One

Maggie Gyllenhaal gives an electrifying performance in this slow-burning spy series, set within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Available now on: Netflix


The Trip to Italy
87%

In this sequel to The Trip, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are two old friends who hit the road in order to samplie culinary delights and talk about life.

Available now on: Netflix

North American audiences came out in big numbers to see Denzel Washington fight for the little guy as his latest action thriller The Equalizer opened at number one selling an estimated $35M worth of tickets. It was the third largest debut of the double Oscar winner’s career behind just American Gangster ($43.6M in 2007) and Safe House ($40.2M in 2012) and proved once again how bankable and consistent he is as a box office draw. Over the past decade, every single one of Washington’s 12 starring vehicles has debuted north of $20M and was among the top three for its opening weekend. Half of them reached the number one spot.

Equalizer also scored the fourth biggest September opening in history. Sony launched the brutal R-rated crime thriller in 3,236 theaters including 352 IMAX screens and averaged a robust $10,816 per location. Washington’s older-skewing brand of action pics and dramas are not known to be premium-priced events so having 9% of the weekend gross come from IMAX was impressive.

Studio research showed that 65% of the audience was over 30 while the gender split was fairly even with 52% being male. Washington is a reliable draw with adult couples and is seen as someone who does not pick bad projects. Heavy promotion with the NFL and Eminem (who contributed a new song) paid off. Reviews were mixed but paying customers liked what they got as evidenced by a good A- CinemaScore.

The Equalizer opened to an estimated $17.8M from 65 overseas markets including the United Kingdom, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, and Australia. Washington is not as strong of a draw internationally as he is in the U.S with his last three films making more here than abroad. But breaking $200M worldwide is certainly a possibility for Equalizer which cost $55M to produce.

Fox’s adventure drama The Maze Runner dropped 46% in its second weekend to an estimated $17.5M. It was a moderate decline and boosted the total to date to $58M. Produced for under $35M, look for Maze to reach a solid domestic final of about $90M with its sequel already set to release on the same weekend next September.

Opening in third place with respectable results was the creepy toon The Boxtrolls with an estimated $17.3M from 3,464 locations for a $4,980 average. The PG-rated film’s debut gross edged out the $16.8M bow of the same company’s Coraline from 2009, however that film launched in 1,165 fewer theaters for a stronger $7,329 average.

The new Focus release skewed 57% male and earned a decent B+ CinemaScore from audiences. Reviews were generally upbeat. With no competing animated films over the next couple of weeks and the Halloween season getting started soon, Boxtrolls could play well into October and find its way to a final gross in the neighborhood of $70M.

The Warner Bros. comedy This Is Where I Leave You dropped a reasonable 39% in its second weekend for a good hold. The Jason Bateman-Tina Fey pic grossed an estimated $7M and raised its total to $22.6M. Off 46% in its third lap was Dolphin Tale 2 with an estimated $4.8M pushing the cume for Warner Bros. to $33.7M which is off 31% from the pace of its predecessor at the same point.

No Good Deed followed with an estimated $4.6M, down 53%, for a good sum of $46.6M for Sony. Liam Neeson’s action entry A Walk Among the Tombstones tumbled by 67% for a weak sophomore showing collecting an estimated $4.2M. Universal’s cume is $20.9M on its way to a dull $28M.

>Guardians of the Galaxy stayed in the top ten for a ninth weekend and surpassed the lifetime grosses of the first Iron Man, Transformers, and Harry Potter films in the process. Star Lord and pals slipped 28% to an estimated $3.8M boosting the domestic tally to a sensational $319.2M. That puts Guardians at number 33 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters. Higher ticket prices and 3D surcharges helped, but still, for the Groot pic to reach this level is amazing considering that the characters are not well-known in the mainstream world and that it played in a less lucrative time of year. The global gross for Guardians shot up to $644.3M heading to $750M+. A big opening in China is right around the corner on October 10.

The buddy comedy Let’s Be Cops grossed an estimated $1.5M, down 44%, putting Fox at $79.6M. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pulled in an estimated $1.5M as well and fell 45% in its eighth weekend. Paramount’s new cume is $187.2M with the worldwide tally rising up to $342.1M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $97.1M which was up 6% from last year when Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 debuted at number one with $34M; but off 6% from 2012 when Hotel Transylvania opened on top with $42.5M.

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In Theaters This Week:



The Boxtrolls

78%

Rating: PG, for action, some peril and mild, rude humor.

This family-friendly comedy is crammed with painstakingly detailed stop-motion animation. It’s also got a major dark streak and its prevailing grotesquery may be too much for the youngest kids. Beneath a quaintly dreary English village lives a population of creatures known as the Boxtrolls. They are industrious and mischievous and misunderstood. They also have a young, orphaned boy living among them who’s known as Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) because they all take their names from the boxes they wear: Fish, Shoe, etc. A scheming and socially ambitious villain with the Dickensian name of Archibald Snatcher (voiced by Ben Kingsley) promises the city’s leaders that he will eradicate the town of all the Boxtrolls if they will let him join their elite white hat society. The adventures here are pretty tame. It’s the details that may freak some kids out. Snatch loves cheese (as everyone in town does) but he’s allergic to it, swelling in gnarly fashion from a single bite. Children are repeatedly in peril or neglected, and there’s a subplot about kidnapping. OK for kids around 6 and older.

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Ep. 059 – New TV & movies, and Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua
This week’s show kicks off with Sarah discussing new TV shows, including How to Get Away With Murder, Gotham, and Transparent. Then Ryan discusses two new home video releases, Neighbors and The Rover, and Tims talks about new movies, including The Boxtrolls and The Equalizer. Finally, Matt and Grae interview The Equalizer director Antoine Fuqua. (If you want to skip to the interview, it starts at 39:37.)

This week at the movies, we’ve got misunderstood monsters (The Boxtrolls, featuring voice performances from Elle Fanning and Ben Kingsley) and an enigmatic vigilante (The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington and Chloë Grace Moretz). What do the critics have to say?



The Boxtrolls

78%

Witty, original, and darker than your average family fare, Coraline and ParaNorman proved that Laika was a force to be reckoned with in the animation world. Critics say the studio’s latest effort, The Boxtrolls, offers a less compelling story than those films, but it’s meticulously crafted and often delightfully weird. The titular creatures are kindly, goofy monsters that have raised a little boy named Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright) as one of their own. But the nefarious Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) wants to wipe out the Boxtrolls for personal gain, so it’s up to Eggs and his new friend Winnie (Elle Fanning) to stop him. The pundits say The Boxtrolls is visually striking, but it lacks the charm and narrative pull of previous Laika features.(Check out our video interviews with Kingsley and Fanning.)



The Equalizer

60%

The last time Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua teamed up, the result was Training Day, a searing portrait of a crooked cop that earned Washington an Oscar. They’re back together for The Equalizer, but critics say the results are mixed this time; Washington is his usual compelling self, but the script often succumbs to thriller cliches. Washington stars as McCall, a man with a mysterious past who’s trying to keep a low profile. However, when he stumbles upon Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz) a troubled young woman under the thumb of heartless mobsters, McCall decides to take matters into his own hands. The pundits say The Equalizer is stylish and gritty, but the formulaic plot doesn’t always make the best use of Washington’s fine central performance. (Watch our video Q&A with Fuqua, as well as Washington’s best-reviewed films.)

Certified Fresh on TV this week:


Expanding upon the Batman universe, Gotham (90 percent), which stars Ben Mckenzie and Jada Pinkett Smith, delves into the history of the key players of the Dark Knight saga. The critics say Gotham features high production values, a talented cast, and an appealingly stylized approach to the Batman mythos.

black-ish (86 percent) stars Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne in a comedy series about a father who’s concerned that raising his his kids in the suburbs will force them to lose touch with their African American roots. The critics say black-ish is smart, ingratiating, and often very funny.

Viola Davis is an exceptional talent, and critics say she’s the best reason to watch How to Get Away With Murder (84 percent). The pundits say this legal thriller is slick and exciting, which helps it to overcome its sometimes shaky plotting.

Also opening this week in limited release:

Sir Ben Kingsley and Elle Fanning discuss their latest film The Boxtrolls, and in honor of these little stop-motion monsters who come out at night, tell us where they’d like to go after everyone is asleep.

Grae Drake speaks to Sir Ben Kingsley about his role as Archibald Snatcher, as well as what a Knight Meeting is like.



After some discussion about The Boxtrolls, Grae and Elle sword fight with grasshoppers while Isaac does play-by-play, and then Grae threatens to eat one of them.

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