Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mid January Derby

Now with super-sized Add On.

The Princess and the Frog departs the Top Ten as new entrants shoulder past it. The Nikkster provides early numbers.

1. Book Of Eli (Alcon/Warner Bros) NEW [3,111 Theaters] Friday $11.7M, Est 4-Day Weekend $35M

2. Avatar (Fox) Week 5 [3,285 Theaters] Friday $10.5M, Est 4-Day Weekend $50M, Est Cume $500M

3. Lovely Bones (Paramount) Week 6 [2,563 Theaters] Friday $5.7M, Est 4-Day Weekend $25M, Est Cume $23M

4. Sherlock Holmes (Warner Bros) Week 4 [3,173 Theaters] Friday $2.9M, Est 4-Day Weekend $12M, Est Cume $182M

5. Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squealquel (Fox) Week 4 [3,246 Theaters] Friday $2.6M, Est 4-Day Weekend $15M, Est Cume $195.7M

6. It's Complicated (Universal) Week 4 [2,673 Theaters] Friday $2.4M, Est 4-Day Weekend $10M, Est Cume $91M

7. The Spy Next Door (Lionsgate) NEW [2,924 Theaters] Friday $2.3M, Est 4-Day Weekend $12M

8. Leap Year (Universal) Week 2 [2,512 Theaters] Friday $1.9M, Est 4-day Weekend $7M, Est Cume $18.7M

9. The Blind Side (Warner Bros) Week 9 [2,408 Theaters] Friday $1.6M, Est 4-Day Weekend $7M, Est Cume $228.5M

10. Up In The Air (Paramount) Week 7 [2,107 Theaters] Friday $1.5M, Est 4-Day Weekend $6.5M, Est Cume $64M

I'm guessing that TPandTF reaches the hundred million mark this MLK weekend. (The rumor mill has it that Dis Co. management has decided -- with 20/20 hindsight -- that having "Princess" in the title of their movie wasn't the best marketing ploy. Oh well ...)

Add On: At the wire, Avatar prevails at #1 for the fifth week in a row ($41.3 million, with a $491.8 million total.)

Behind Cameron's opus at the final turn #2 The Book of Eli reaps $31.6 million, while #4 Alvin and Cohorts now has $192.6 million in its gunny sack.

And at #13, The Princess and the Frog has shed 843 theatres while earning $2.7 million. The feature now has $96.2 million at the North American box office.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the original title the Frog Princess and they changed that to avoid the Swan Princess comparison? You would've thought at that point they might have thought a little harder about the name.

If the name is what they're blaming then they aren't looking hard enough. But that might be suggesting something they don't want to hear right now about putting all their eggs in JL's basket...

Has he had any success since being annointed to take ove Disney?

Anonymous said...

You may enjoy reading "Fast Fade", the story of how British filmmaker David Puttnam was put in charge of Columbia Pictures, with disastrous results, from the years 1986 - 1988.

Puttnam was involved heavily in the creation of the films Chariots of Fire, The Killing Fields and The Mission before his arrival at Columbia.

When Puttnam was offered the helm of the company, he had to work with the projects already in the pipeline...including the Cyndi Lauper/Jeff Goldblum movie "Vibes", the tired body-switching Judge Reinhold vehicle"Vice Versa" and Bill Cosby's "Leonard, Part 6", considered one of the worst scripts ever written.

Lets reserve judgment on Lasseter until--like Puttnam--he is given the opportunity to guide projects from their inception, instead of coming in late in the process. Puttnam didn't even get that chance at Columbia, ousted immediately for the poor performance of films he couldn't stop because they were too far into production.

Anonymous said...

And now they are changing the title of "Rapunzel" to something else because marketing is telling them to.

Dumbest decision I've ever heard of.

Anonymous said...

Frog was JL's from the beginning wasn't it? And the amount of reconfiguring he did on Dog and several others make them his as well (of course witrh those he could hide by blaming others).
So when does he start accepting sole responsibility for projects? 5 more years? 10 more years?
Considering he could've killed any project in house one would assume he thought he could make them work...?

Anonymous said...

Lets reserve judgment on Lasseter until--like Puttnam--he is given the opportunity to guide projects from their inception, instead of coming in late in the process.

Late in the process?! JL picked the directors, the project, greenlighted it, sat in one every pitch, the works. He DID "guide it from its inception".
[cue sad trombone here] Oops!

This mismanaged film was a sop to marketing and focus-grouping from the beginning with JL at the helm all the way.

Maybe now it'll dawn on some of you that the success at Pixar hasn't been all about John Lasseter but is the result of a combination of various, different and sometimes younger guys.

Anonymous said...

Frog was not Lasseter's from the beginning, I believe. In fact, I think Ralph Eggelston was pitching the idea quite some time before, which led to the credit he got on the film...in other words, he had to be bought out/get the credit. Someone more directly involved in the film from its inception can certainly give a more detailed and accurate history.

Regarding Lasseter having the ability to kill any project when he came on board, I believe that is far from true: for example, my understanding is that he despised the products of the direct-to-DVD department and hated the idea of a series of Tinkerbelle DVDs where she talked...he felt that it was stepping on the history of the character, and tried to kill the project vigorously...

...but the series of Tinkerbelle/fairy films were already well underway, and were tied to a giant push of girls' fairy merchandise. John had to relent, settling for story changes to the films, and even appears in the intro to the first film speaking excitedly about how "now Tinkerbelle talks!". You can almost detect the gun to his head just outside the camera frame.

As far as when John deserves to take sole creative responsibility for the projects, I think that would be a soft deadline that's begun passing.

If you wish to talk about putting all eggs in one basket, blaming the death of the profitability of 2D animation at Disney Feature on one film would be a more apt example.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it, the "Frog Princess" title was changed because of the, um, French connection...

Anonymous said...

The Tink DTVs was aaccepted so he could axe the DTV sequels.But you're talking apples an doranges.

He is in full control of features and could have very easily axed any the films that weren't in full scale production. He didn't and he is responsible for Frog no matter who originally pitched it. No one forced his hand to make Frog - but go ahead and apolgize for him anyway.
I agree with whoever said it before, his next film should be the Emperor's New Clothes.

Anonymous said...

Show of hands - how many who are complaining about Lasseter now are the same people who were ecstatic when he took over?

That's what I thought...

Anonymous said...

Show of hands - how many who are complaining about Lasseter now are the same people who were ecstatic when he took over?

That's what I thought...


And..so what? What's your point?

Why shouldn't everyone have been happy when JL took it over(or rather when it was handed over to him as part of his deal)? That was far from stupid-he DOES have a great organization in Pixar and he deserves quite a bit of respect for that. He's also, obviously and vocally, a devotee of the good old stuff from Bill Peet to Joe Grant and not forgetting his love of Miyazaki etc. What's not to have been thrilled about?

How were they to know how little actual power he would wield when push came to shove, when Iger pushed out Cook, or what effect one single guy-who believe it or not is not 100% all alone responsible for the success of Pixar's films-what effect that one single guy can have when he's spread too thin-two days here. three days there?

He came into a demoralized and gutted department in FA, and while in principle he was given the keys to the building he was also handed a set of brutal strictures: CUT budgets, CUT staff.

That's almost always a kiss of death btw-you just have to spend money to truly expand, get things juiced and make money. You absolutely HAVE to be able to bite the bullet and ride it out if one or two films aren't blockbusters. There was only a modest success in Bolt and a disappointing result from Frog. In the meantime, there's been a virtual hiring freeze and layoffs-in story, in visdev. This from one of the world's BIG corporations that can well afford to invest and risk a lot more where their flagship division is concerned. Don't believe for a second that they need be so cheap. They aren't perceived like Wall Street brokers, much as they pretend they have to cancel Xmas parties to avoid looking "bad" to stockholders. Come on.

How about this: at the same time they've practically operated Disney on a shoestring, Pixar has been aggressively expanding, hiring artists while those same people have been laid off at Disney. Adding more films to development. Expanding.

Push comes to shove, where is Jl more invested? Can he really be in two places at once and care about the internal, on the ground workings of both studios equally? Who's the Lasseter of the hat building? Is there anyone even remotely considered for such a role?

Don't point & laugh at people who honestly had reason to hope for the best when they've had the rug pulled out from under them and frankly been shined on bigtime. Not after working as hard as they have on a "trial" basis for so long now. It's not their fault they only work for Walt Disney Animation and not Pixar. They did their best, which is pretty damned good.

It's management that's everything in the end. And who exactly is management?
Who?

Anonymous said...

" all their eggs in JL's basket..."

Nope. JL has no say over Robert Zemeckis "animation" projects, or Tim Burton's pair of animated features for Disney, or Guillermo Del Toro's upcoming slew of animated features.

But the studio has now relegated the feature animation unit to make kids films, instead of just good family films. They figure they can get those out of Pixar.

Anonymous said...

How were they to know how little actual power he would wield when push came to shove, when Iger pushed out Cook, or what effect one single guy-who believe it or not is not 100% all alone responsible for the success of Pixar's films-what effect that one single guy can have when he's spread too thin-two days here. three days there?

...and that's exactly the point. Yet by the tone of the posts here (yours being the exception), you'd think that Lasseter was solely responsible for everything PatF-related.

David said...

Sigh. John Lasseter is not responsible for how well a fil m performs at the box office. That's beside the point. The point is that under his leadership, the films themselves have gotten BETTER. I don't think anyone can argue that – and that to me is his real success and the real reason they brought him on. Whether or not the films are profitable has a lot more to do with marketing (there are plenty of great films that make no money and plenty of terrible films that make plenty).

Anonymous said...

Here we go. If a 2d film doesnt do well, it is the fault of marketing. I think 2d is simply a little "long in the tooth".

I finally saw "Avatar". It wasn't a great film, but it was a fantastic experience.

IMO 2d animation is over as the mass entertainment experience it represented in the 90's. No amount of marketing is going to change that.

Anonymous said...

Give people something new and fresh, and they will see it.

2d animation in the Disney house-style is over. It's tired and played.

BUT...

2d with a unique style and vision, and a fresh energy, combined with a compelling story, would do well, IMO. Think of the hundreds, if not thousands, of different graphic styles out there that are interesting and inviting. Many could still be "accesible" to a broad audience, especially if the story is really good.

The conventional look of 2d for the last 70 years is nice and great, and was good for its time. There is no inherent reason it needs to look like that. Come up with an entirely new and interesting look, without regard to the tired traditions of the past.

Anonymous said...

**there are plenty of great films that make no money and plenty of terrible films that make plenty).**

Astro Boy is indicative of the former, and Ice Age Whatever is a perfect example of the latter.

As for Frog...the movie looked very childish to me. And mucus-secreting frogs don't say "cuddly stuffed toys" the way Simba said "cuddly stuffed toys". As characters, frogs pretty much suck (even has-beens like Kermit). And you can put fat loud alligators in that category too.

Anonymous said...

Did you work on Astro Boy?

Anonymous said...

Oh god, here we go with the Astro Boy crap again...

(not that I thought AB was crap, but there are some here who thought watching it as a religious experience, and never shut up about it)

Anonymous said...

AB...thought watching it as a religious experience, and never shut up about it

People really liked Astro Boy?

Wow, there wasn't one thing about that movie that I thought was good. Not story, not animation, not lighting...nothing.

If someone likes that movie, I would have to question them as artists...or as even coherent.

Anonymous said...

J.L. had over half of "Meet the Robinsons" redone when he took over. He had "American Dog" go back to square one , completely retooled under new directors as "Bolt". What Sander's had done during development of "American Dog" was deemed unusable by J.L. and they started over . "Bolt" and "The Princess & the Frog" were made totally under J.L.'s watch.

Personally I think both "Bolt" and "PATF" were pretty good movies. It's a shame that neither one connected with audiences in a big way. But "pretty good" isn't enough to turn Disney Animation around. He needs a full-blown hit along the lines of "UP" or "Finding Nemo" to come out of Disney.

But the point is , if anyone wants to keep pleading "well, let's give J.L. a chance , he's still new on the job and it's going to take a while to turn things around" ... that just doesn't fly anymore. He's had control since "Meet the Robinson's" was sent in for major (expensive) revisions under his orders. I think it's clear now that dividing his time between Pixar and Disney is not working. Someone needs to be running Disney Animation who has 100% of their time devoted to making Disney Animation a success.

Anonymous said...

Give people something new and fresh, and they will see it.
2d animation in the Disney house-style is over. It's tired and played.

>>>>>>>>
I agree Disney house-style is over. However, I think in general, the 2d process is too limiting to do anything really fresh.

"Fresh" is what people are responding to in Avatar. Avatar has a cartoon/comic book level of story sophistication. However, visually it is being perceived as something new and fantastic.

CG has unlimited ways to make variations of "fresh". 2d is a prisoner of its production process.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with you about the allusion to Avatar, which is sort of what I was getting at about the audience craving something new and fresh.

But I think 2d is more a prisoner of its past than its production process.

They are still trying to replicate the look of ink-and-paint on cel. The drawings are still trying to channel Milt Kahl. But there is no inherent reason why it must look this way, only tradition. Why are the credits section the only parts which begin to take advantage of the drawing aspect?

The popular graphics and art worlds have moved on from flat colors painted-by-numbers onto acetate cels. There is no limit to what could be done graphically in 2d, if only there were the willingness. Walt was experimenting with this in Fantasia, but even that is only the beginning, and he was limited by technology. With the aid of computers, there is no style 2d couldn't venture into.

Anonymous said...

There is no limit to what could be done graphically in 2d,
>>>>>

I completely agree.

When persons on this board use the term 2d, they often seem to be talking about the process used 10 years ago that kept them employed.

For better or worse, I think that ship has sailed.

Anonymous said...

OF COURSE Princess and the Frog failed because of it's title!

I mean, God forbid they actually point to the fact that you never care about the main character--- or you never really feel the relationship grow between Prince Naveen and her-- or the songs aren't catchy at all-- or you never really get a sense of what her magical journey through the bayou was all about-- or you didn't feel her grow as a character--

Just make a good story. This thing felt like a series of Disney-feature cliches that they felt they needed to force in there.

Just terrible.

And I really don't understand the logic of not having any recognizable characteristics in Tiana when she is "en-Frogged". Why not?

And that firefly stuff at the end-- why? You never really felt that he was that important anyway.

I don't know. I was completely rooting for it-- I love traditional animation more than any other form of filmmaking and believe in it-- but I can completely understand why it performed as it did. I actually think it performed better than it deserved to.

So it worries me that they point to the film title, rather than point to the story problems themselves.

Anonymous said...

The Princess and the frog story is exactly the kind of story you get when you hire Ron and John to direct. That was a J. Lasseter call.

Ron and John's comedic storytelling style peaked out in 1992 with Aladdin. Chevy Chase was really funny in 1975. "Take my wife please" brought down the house in 1945.

Certain creative sensibilities evolve and others get stale and become caricatures of themselves.

Anonymous said...

"The popular graphics and art worlds have moved on from flat colors painted-by-numbers onto acetate cels. There is no limit to what could be done graphically in 2d, if only there were the willingness. Walt was experimenting with this in Fantasia, but even that is only the beginning, and he was limited by technology. With the aid of computers, there is no style 2d couldn't venture into."

I agree. The Sue Nichols designed graphic sequences in "PATF," while out of place and redundant from the overall films point of view (and there were too many), were outstanding, fun, and fun to watch.

However, if the entire FILM were planned and designed this way, it could be interesting. The challange, of course, is to create character designs that animators can emote with enough to carry the story and audience.

Floyd Norman said...

Wow! A lot of blame being tossed around here.

Back in the seventies, a group of African American film makers gathered in Hollywood to develop an animated feature that would showcase black talent and have a black sensibility. Our composer was Smokey Robinson, and our amazing designer was the talented Phil Mendez. We were determined to do something new with animation, even though we knew our chances were slim.

Nothing has really changed since the seventies. Animated “black films” are still basically Oreo cookies. Perhaps things will change one day, but not anytime soon. It’s been easier to elect a black president than appoint a black producer at a film studio.

Anonymous said...

Well thank GOD they are changing the title of Rapunzel. All the teenage boys are going to flock to that movie once they give it an edgier name! They are going to drop their game controllers and run....no....sprint to the theater because they know that even though the movie is actually the Rapunzel story, who cares because their ticket stub is going to say "Tower Assassin Blonde Bondage 3: This Time With More Machine Gunz"

Anonymous said...

...so no one supposes all the "Disney is racist" backlash affected box-office as well.

I've heard a lot of comments from Black mothers who refuse to take their kids (or themselves) to see the film, because the prince isn't Black, Tiana spends most of the picture as a frog, there's voodoo involved, etc...

Anonymous said...

No. I think it was more of a "Disney is making another formulaic 2d film" backlash. IMO

god said...

"There is no limit to what could be done graphically in 2d"

yes there is. It has to be animatable.

Also, many styles have been tried in the past. UPA, collage, paint on glass,rotoscope, abstract, you name it! But the style is almost irrelevant when it comes to feature animation. Story is more important than style. Then you need characters. How are you gonna animate a character in an abstract style? You could do some bold styles of illustration, but you have consider the cost of production, or a pipeline structure for it.

It's too easy to simply say, "you can do anything in 2d"

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