Sunday, July 30, 2006
We now move into week two of a three-week miniglut of CG features. Last week Monster House managed second place in a very crowded box office weekend. This weekend, MH is expected to battle DNA's The Ant Bully for third place. The Ant Bully is getting mixed reviews (54% positive so far on Rotten Tomatoes). One could argue that the film probably won't do so well because the audience if fatigued from so many other CG features this year, but I think the bigger problem is that Ant Bully looks too much like animated films we've already seen. . . As usual, updates to follow. SATURDAY UPDATE: The big news is it appears that The Ant Bully is tanking. We hate to jump to conclusions after just the Friday opening, but 5th place with an estimated $2.65 million points towards a sub-10 million dollar first weekend, and an eventual domestic gross of well below $50 million. This is not exactly stellar news for Warner Bros. or DNA. Monster House did a little better, pulling 4th place on Friday ($3.6 million), which is about par for the course after it's $22.2 million opening weekend. Cars has finally dropped out of the top 10. SUNDAY UPDATE: "MH" pulled in another $11,500,000 (if the estimates hold up), coming in at #4, and "Ant Bully" landed at the fifth spot in its debut. "Ants" total was $8,145,000. Tellingly, "Monster House", even though it's in 500 more theatres than the insect saga, pulled a higher per-screen average ($3,256 to $2,670). So despite the big name voice talents and the Tom Hanks connection, "AB" simply couldn't find a sizable audience. Perhaps it was because it seemed to be a retread of CG pictures that had gone before, or maybe Warner Bros. just didn't get its act together distribution-wise, but Sam Goldwyn's long-ago axium once again proved true: "When people don't want to come and see your movie, you can't stop them." SUNDAY UPDATE II: Oh yes, and "Cars" fell 50%. It now has a domestic total of $234,649,000. This, while not quite as high as "Finding Nemo," still makes it the second highest-grossing film of the year. Which brings to mind this from The Onion (which we have updated slightly): STUDIOS SUE PIXAR, DEMAND BAD MOVIE "Stop making the rest of us look bad," demand Hollywood executives Hollywood — The eight major Hollywood studios have filed suit against CGI animation company Pixar for its consistent record of quality movies. The complaint alleges that with its seventh consecutive profitable and critically acclaimed film in Cars,” Pixar is overturning a decades-long public relations campaign waged by Hollywood studios to convince the public that it’s impossible to consistently make high quality films. “If Pixar doesn’t get with the program, we’re going to have to fundamentally change the way we do business,” groused Paramount chairwoman Sherry Lansing, whose studio hasn’t produced a hit film in several years. “I repeat my recommendation to Steve Jobs that he pay John Travolta and Halle Berry $20 million each to provide voices for an effects-laden remake of ‘The Fox and the Hound.’” Plaintiffs in the suit are Paramount, Universal, MGM, Fox, Disney, Warner Bros., Dreamworks, and Sony Pictures. All eight studios have worked together since 1980 in a sophisticated PR effort to make all Americans believe that it’s inevitable most films will be poor to mediocre. The campaign has included payoffs to critics, training for film school professors, and talking points distributed to corporate spokespeople. Because of the successful campaign, executives have successfully built a system in which they spend tens of millions of dollars each year on development and end up producing as many critically and commercially successful films as a monkey throwing darts at a board would, according to scientific studies. Asked for comment, a Pixar spokesperson said he believes the suit was motivated by studio executives’ indignation that Pixar and Apple CEO Steve Jobs refused to send them each a free iPod Photo. According to the studios’ talking points, it’s impossible to consistently make more than 50% of films be high quality, with an average hit to miss ratio of 1:2. But with its six profitable and acclaimed films, Pixar is beginning to make many Americans questions why it actually seems possible to consistently make successful films. “Those guys are ruining it for everybody,” said Warner Bros. president Alan Horn. “We can’t possibly be expected to stay in business when we’re up against a studio that doesn’t have dozens of unqualified young executives with little or no background or interest in film meddling in the creative process of all their movies.” “It just goes to show what I’ve always said,” added Universal Chairwoman Stacy Snider. “It should be illegal for companies outside of Los Angeles to produce motion pictures.” The complaint asks that a court award the eight studios $1 billion in damages or compel Pixar to hire 118 unqualified development executives, option the rights to 38 scripts and books it has no intention of turning into films, and immediately greenlight sequels to “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo” with $100 million-plus budgets and hire directors whose only experience is in music videos to oversee them.
Posted by Kevin Koch at 10:31 AM