Side-by-Side: Who watched ‘The Lion King’ & ‘Toy Story 4’?

Jul 31, 2019 | Insights

Below we’ll be looking at two of the year’s biggest films, both products of the unstoppable, quality family entertainment behemoth that is the Walt Disney Company: The Jon Favreau directed remake of ‘The Lion King,’ and the fourth installment of Pixar Animation Studios’ beloved ‘Toy Story’ series.

We analyzed the data generated by the people who said they went to see these films, overlaying more than 85,000 dimensions (demographics, brand and media affinities, favorite influencers, personality traits, and much more). The resulting insights revealed each audience’s priorities, passions, and tribes, and provided invaluable knowledge of the nuanced differences between the members of the public each film attracted.

About this project

Time to gather the data & insights below: <10 minutes
Time to analyze data: ~1 hour
Time to write this analysis start to finish: <2 days

You are encouraged to contact us if you have any questions.

Below is a quick summary of the films — Those well-versed in such things are more than invited to scroll down to the audience insights just below.

The Lion King

The first film whose fans we’ll be analyzing is the CGI-based remake of 1994’s “Disney Renaissance”-era classic, 2D cel-animated film, ‘The Lion King.’ The approximate re-telling of ‘Hamlet’ — set in the kingdom of an African jungle, populated by talking and alternately sweet, wise, majestic, goofy, wisecracking, and/or scheming, preening, villainous animals — has continued to enthrall and delight children, and adults, in the many years since it topped the box office, and received nearly universal praise.

This 2019 remake was directed by Jon Favreau, a man no doubt regarded fondly by Disney’s top brass. In 2008, folks were skeptical about Disney’s plans to take their then recently acquired Marvel Comics properties and spin them out into a vast series of interconnected films. We know how that played out (this year’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ has toppled ‘Avatar’ as the top-grossing film of all-time), but had it not been for the work Favreau did directing 2008’s ‘Iron Man,’ and his hard fought for, and inspired, casting of Robert Downey, Jr. in the lead, none of it would have happened.

Toy Story 4

To say that 1995’s, John Lasseter directed, ‘Toy Story’ was a game-changer would be a ridiculous understatement. The “Disney Renaissance” that began in the late-80s proved that animated films could still be as profitable, and critically well-regarded, as any films released. ‘Toy Story,’ however, which was distributed by Disney, was the first-ever computer animated feature film. It, in turn, revealed the commercial viability of this new advancement of an art form as old as film itself.

The fourth installment, which was released about a month before this writing, has grossed $380 million domestically — and will earn quite a lot more as the year goes on — with its worldwide total currently standing at over $860 million. Initial reports of the film under-performing, as it turned out, were greatly exaggerated.

Why We’ve Gathered You Here Today

Below we’ve taken a dive into the data generated by the most active and enthusiastic cinema-goers each of these films has attracted. An overlap in viewers is inevitable, and expected, but there are differences evident. In the below, we’ve identified where the audiences’ affinities align, and more crucially (and subtly) where they differ.

StatSocial’s data is sourced from earned engagement (e.g. what people read, like, follow, share, talk about, etc.) of over 300 million consumers. Our analysis of all the content people engage with creates over 85,000 unique attributes per consumer. As a result, we provide an in-depth breakdown of an audience’s interests, affinities, media preferences, hobbies, allegiances, to which of our Digital Tribes they belong, and thanks to our partnership with IBM Watson™ and the integration of their Personality Insights™ service into our analysis, even personality types.

Our reporting reveals things that could not feasibly be learned through hundreds or, truthfully, hundreds of thousands of surveys and focus groups. StatSocial peers beyond the manicured and curated identities of social media, and digs into what really makes the various segments of any given audience tick.

While what you’ll find below may seem like a lot of data, it is only the tip of the iceberg of the insights StatSocial has on offer, regarding these (and all other) audiences. That said, we’re experts at tailoring the analysis to our users’ needs, so the data is never overwhelming.

An Explanation of the Insights Below:

The insights below are mostly sorted according to our index score. The score shows the degree to which the corresponding demographics, behaviors, and/or affinities being reported either exceed, are in line with, or fall short of the baseline. For this study, the baseline we’re using is the average American across the web.

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Our reporting customarily begins with the basic nuts and bolts demographic details of whom, precisely, we’re looking at. We will not be bucking custom today.


EXPLANATION: The index score reflects the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in excess of, is in line with, or falls short of our baseline (here, the average American social media audience). So, 58.91% of the ‘Toy Story 4’ audience is male. This exceeds the baseline by 1.18 times.

Both films show a decided lean toward male theater-goers, with men and boys making up an especially comfortable majority of the ‘Toy Story 4’ audience.


In keeping with what is explained in the caption to the previous graphic, 37.46% of the ‘Toy Story 4’ audience is between ages 18 and 24. This percentage over-indexes our baseline by 2.12 times.

Note — StatSocial does not collect or organize data for people under the age of 18.

In the case of both films, the 18–34 set is most profoundly represented. This makes sense for two immediately evident reasons, many in their 20s-to-mid-30s are parents of small children. Also, however, this is a generation who grew up with ‘The Lion King’ and the ‘Toy Story’ films.

What is particularly noteworthy, however, is that such a significant portion of ‘Toy Story 4’’s fans are between 18 and 24 years of age (a percentage exceeding our baseline by 2.12 times).

A number of factors could be relevant here: While there have been ‘Lion King’ sequels throughout the years, they were direct-to-video affairs, and not particularly well-regarded. There were also television spin-offs that did not precisely set the world on fire. So, for many, there really is just the one film.

On the other hand, those in the 18 to 24 bracket not only grew up watching ‘Toy Story’ films at home, they probably got to see one or two in the theatre, as children. It is an ongoing story in which they’ve been invested their whole lives.

Also, to a generation raised on 3D computer animation, it seems that 2D hand-drawn animation presents to them the way black and white films and TV shows do to many who are slightly older.

Ironic though it may seem, considering that ‘The Lion King’ (2019) is being hailed as a mindblowing piece of computer animation, it is associated with a property some younger people may regard as a bit old-fashioned.

This is a theory, of course, but the numbers are what they are.


EXPLANATION: The index score reflects the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in excess of, is in line with, or falls short of our baseline (here, the average American social media audience). So, 35.56% of the ‘Toy Story 4’ audience earns over $100k a year. This exceeds the baseline by 1.71 times.

Most striking here is that while the portion of the ‘Toy Story 4’ audience earning under $100k annually falls a bit below the baseline, the portion earning over six figures exceeds our baseline by 1.71 times.

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EXPLANATION: The index score reflects the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in excess of, is in line with, or falls short of our baseline (here, the average American social media audience). 12.91% of the ‘The Lion King’ audience are fans of the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise. This exceeds the baseline by 2.60 times.

If anyone from Disney is reading (first of all, hello, you can contact us through this link or via Twitter, if you’d like to learn more), we would suspect these results would not disappoint.

Being associated with one of the few successful film franchises not produced by Disney does nothing to deter folks from visiting the happiest place on Earth.

Thus far, Disney has no piece of ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘The Fast and the Furious,’ ‘Jurassic Park,’ or the Madea films. But, accepting that they may one day own one or all of them, they have had the film rights to ‘Deadpool,’ since the Fox acquisition was completed.’

On that note, while Sony still holds the film rights to the Spider-Man character (hence last year’s outstanding ‘Into the Spider-Verse’), and the MCU has been borrowing him, it is the Disney produced franchise that is rating so strongly here.

Fans of ‘The Avengers’ exist among the collected fans of ‘The Lion King’ to a degree that exceeds their presence among the average U.S. audience by 8 ⅔ times. This is significant when considering just how many fans those films have.

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EXPLANATION: The index score reflects the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in excess of, is in line with, or falls short of our baseline (here, the average American social media audience). 17.77% of the ‘The Lion King’ audience are avid Amazon shoppers. This exceeds the baseline by 4.66 times.

Disney brands abound on both lists, but account for half the items on the ‘The Lion King’ side. That the ‘Toy Story 4’ fans show favor for Marvel to a degree exceeding our baseline by 10 ½ times must be noted.

A family visiting Orlando does not pass up the opportunity to pose for a picture with Han and Leia’s angry, whiny, buff son (who, spoiler alert, has done some really bad stuff). Apparently, if you try to hug the park’s Kylo, he will yell at you.

But the quantity of Marvel fans among the ‘The Lion King’ crowd is larger than even that, and more so, they love Orlando’s Walt Disney World to a degree exceeding the average U.S. audience by 16 ⅘ times.

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EXPLANATION: The index score reflects the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in excess of, is in line with, or falls short of our baseline (here, the average American social media audience). 12.67% of the ‘Toy Story 4’ audience are admirers of Mark Hamill. This exceeds the baseline by 6.82 times.

Goodness gracious, there is Disney to spare when observing the most beloved influencers with the members of these audiences.

Three actors, who may not have realized when this photo was snapped that they’d soon be featured in the highest grossing film of all time. They are, of course, Robert Downey, Jr., Chadwick Boseman, and Chris Evans (Iron Man, Black Panther, and Captan America, respectively). And they are all among the favorite influencers with both audiences being looked at here.

On the ‘The Lion King’ side, the only performer to lack an overt Disney association (apart from having appeared on ‘Hannah Montana’ in 2007) is Dwayne Johnson.

Johnson, it should be noted, is currently in pre-production for ‘Black Adam,’ a DC Comics related film, featuring one of SHAZAM’s greatest arch nemeses, and being made for Warner Bros. (i.e., the MCU’s theoretical competition).

The strong love shown for Lupita Nyong’o by fans of ‘The Lion King’ (exceeding the baseline by 10 ⅖ times) is pretty significant. The Oscar winner is associated with both Disney’s ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Black Panther’ franchises (there’s not been a ‘Black Panther’ sequel yet, but it’s coming).

Demonstrating to just what an extent these ‘Toy Story’ enthusiasts are the genuine article, fans of Tim Allen — Buzz Lightyear, himself — can be found among this audience to a degree that exceeds the baseline by 7 ¾ times.

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EXPLANATION: The index score reflects the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in excess of, is in line with, or falls short of our baseline (here, the average American social media audience). 3.99% of the ‘Toy Story 4’ audience are fans of the ‘American Horror Story’ franchise. This exceeds the baseline by 3.99 times.

It was always clear that Disney’s acquisition of Fox would not include the news operations. What was less clear was whether or not they’d be acquiring Fox’s broadcast television network. As it turns out, they have not and will not.

So, the top TV show among the ‘The Lion King’ audience — the music industry-centered, prime time soap opera, ‘Empire,’ which finds favor among this audience to a degree exceeding the baseline by 6 ⅕ times — is not associated with Disney.

Black-ish’ — which finds its fans among the ‘The Lion King’ crowd to a degree 2.84 times greater than our baseline — is on the Disney owned ABC network. And as the hand of the mouse has fingers extending into many pies, ‘Sportscenter’ is the beloved flagship program of the Disney-owned ESPN.

While Disney may wish they had something to do with ‘Stranger Things,’ they do not. But it finds substantial quantities of love on both sides. On the ‘Toy Story’ side of things, ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ is an animated series on the Disney XD network, and ‘American Horror Story’ — fans of which are among the ‘Toy Story’ collective to a degree 3 ½ times greater than our baseline — is an FX program, which now places it under the auspices of, say it with us now, D-I-S-N-E-Y (Why? Because they like you!), who acquired the FX networks in their Fox deal.

Admit it. You would so binge watch an ‘Empire’/’Stranger Things’ crossover. No matter what it would be, there is no way it wouldn’t be insanely entertaining.

A hint of the more youthful, college-aged aspects of the ‘Toy Story’ crowd peek out again, with entries such as the generally excellent (just ignore the show’s fandom) ‘Rick and Morty,’ and the quasi-David Lynchian, live-action revision of ‘Archie’ comics, ‘Riverdale,’ rating so highly.


EXPLANATION: The index score reflects the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in excess of, is in line with, or falls short of our baseline (here, the average American social media audience). 22.48 of the ‘The Lion King’ audience are fans of country music. This exceeds the baseline by 1.82 times.

These lists are really rather strikingly similar. Both audiences love theme parks most of all, and there are many great ones dotting the landscape of our United States. But two, in particular, come to mind as being exceptional. We’ll leave it to you to guess to which two we might be referring.

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You can read a blog entry detailing this very special set of data by clicking this link, but we’ll also summarize things here.

StatSocial Digital Tribes is a model of the U.S. population broken down into 100 distinct market segments. Seeing which Tribes are present, and in what proportions, grants our users quick, crucial, and unprecedented insight into the humans who make up a given audience.

Combining our demographic and affinity data, with our Personality Insights® (powered by IBM Watson), we have been able to gather these utterly singular segmentation models. Both sides of the data coin are factored in — the demographic and the psychographic — enabling StatSocial to provide brands, publishers, media buyers, and agencies a comprehensive, in-depth understanding of their target audiences.

The graphics below show the 10 best represented Tribes among each of the audiences being explored. An ever-so-brief summary of the shared affinities, demographics, and/or personalities of each tribe is then provided.

EXPLANATION: The highlighted text in each synopsis features a summary of the index score. This quantifies the degree to which members of the corresponding Digital Tribe can be found within either the ‘The Lion King’ or ‘Toy Story 4’ audience, and compares that quantity to the average American online audience. For example, the occurrence of members of the Basketball Jones tribe within the ‘Toy Story 4’ audience is 3.50 times greater than what you’d find within the average U.S audience.

More in-depth descriptions of each Tribe referenced below, and the remainder of our 100 Digital Tribes can be seen by clicking here.

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As was just referenced in the Digital Tribes section…

Among the great many things StatSocial will tell you about any audience, one of the most distinctive, revealing, and essential, is a breakdown of the various personality types to be found among the group that is under our microscope.

Thanks to StatSocial’s proud partnership with IBM Watson™ and the integration of their Personality Insights™ service into our reporting we can report on 52 unique personality traits with as much confidence as we do those metrics which to some might seem more concrete.

Visit IBM Watson’s site here to learn more about what they do.

The strikingly similar personality profiles speak to not only the inevitable crossover between these audiences, but the temperamental similarities even among those who only favor one film over the other.

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Deeper digging will confirm and bolster our observations, but here we see that the ‘Toy Story’ audience is more limited in their scope of interests, or is made up of largely likeminded people. Both sides dig entertainments ostensibly geared toward younger people, but there is slight evidence of greater diversity on the ‘The Lion King’ side; potentially in many respects, including culturally, economically, and in terms of affinities.

Additionally, the ‘The Lion King’ fans, perhaps unsurprisingly, demonstrate a more profound dedication to Disney properties of many descriptions.

There is so much more to be learned here, though (or perhaps you’d prefer to learn something directly related to another industry, or an entirely different company, product, or platform). Reach out to StatSocial and we’ll gladly talk to you about it.

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