The end of the week, Imagi's Astro Boy hits
1200 3000 American movie screens, and the big question is, how will it do? The answer to that question will help determine the viability of Imagi as a force in the AnimationLand.
"Astro Boy" was completed in June. Many fans of animation around the world are eagerly waiting to see the film -- a proof that Imagi US$40 million outlay to promote the movie has not been in vain.
But some observers are wary of the company itself as it has had to climb stiff hurdles to be where it is today. In January, it conducted intense negotiations to secure a bridge loan facility of up to US$16.6 million ... [And] sources in the industry point out that the profit-sharing deal between Imagi and Warner Brothers -- the distributor of "Astro Boy" -- does not favor the Hong Kong company ...
Imagi, as indicated above, hit a rough patch early this year, but it's hung onto the large office space it leases at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. As a studio rep told me: "The company intends to press on with Gochomon whether Astro Boy turns into a mega blockbuster or not ...." (We'll see how that turns out.)
My guess is that the film will perform well domestically. Reviews have been encouraging, and high-end animated features have been on a roll of late. Plus the people I've talked to who have seen it maintain Astro Boy delivers the goods.
However, there is my definition of "performing well," and the definition that Hollywood's slide rule brigade carries around in its head. Is $120 million enough? $140 million? I have no earthly idea.
My guesstimate is that Astro Boy will collect between $60 and $85 million from the citizens of the U.S. and Canada, and another $100 to $150 million in the rest of the world. Is this enough to have the owners turning handsprings back in Hong Kong? Your guess is as good as mine. Probably better.
Come the weekend, we'll apply the Koch Box Office Calculator to AB's initial grosses, and decide if my prognostications are realistic or delusional. Up until now, its been mostly American animation studios that have raked in big bucks across the globe, but that could always change.
Nothing, after all, is forever.