Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Oncoming Animation Mashup

Megamind has held down the Number One box office position for the past two weeks, but that will be coming to an end:

With only a few hours to go before its 12:01 AM Friday premiere, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is past $30 million in advance sales and may be looking at $60 million for Friday's opening day and a 3-day debut weekend total of $130+ million. ...

And Warners execs will be dancing until dawn out on Pass Avenue ...

So where does that leave the two animated entries, Megamind and the oncoming Tangled? Probably as second-place bridesmaids, since Mr. Potter will be sucking most of the oxygen out of the domestic box office for the next few weeks.

Mega has done well during its roll out, but other recent features have done somewhat better. (Despicable Me -- another "lovable villain" movie -- collected $56.4 million during its first weekend of release, while Megamind rolled up $46 million. Both held well in their second weeks, and DWA's third feature of the year will undoubtedly play straight through the holidays.)

In the meantime Tangled, out in eight days, has its own set of challenges, the biggest being its close proximity to J.K. Rowlings' creation in the nation's multiplexes. But the marketing execs on Buena Vista Street in Burbank certainly know more than us mere mortals.

Happily, early reviews for the new Disney fairy tale are sterling:

Tangled proves that sincerity in animated films did not die with the advent of Shrek. ...

An appropriately commingled sense of classic sentimentality and contemporary, gender-equal romance and adventure meet in Tangled, which underscores the still existent pleasures of traditional storytelling. ...

So everything is good, yes? And maybe this mashup will end with both new animated entrants smelling like roses.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, I dont think Tangled has much to worry about with Potter. Sure, it might not be #1 during its first weekend, but people are going to talk about this movie like crazy and it'll make its money. Harry Potter isnt going to surprise anyone, Tangled will.

Anonymous said...

Maybe. Maybe not.

But honestly--have you seen any publicity push for Tangled? Anything close to approaching what Harry Potters been doing? Or Megamind, for that matter?

J said...

"have you seen any publicity push for Tangled? "

And that is what scares me. The little publicity I have seen for Tangled has been all over the map. From pop-contemporary TV-Spots featuring music from Pink or Cindy Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. To Adventurous boy-centres spots showcasing action. I've even seen one or two fairytale-esque style trailers on tv touting it as a classic Disney film (which it is).

But will all this just leave the public confused and not interested? Or will this work for Disney as a mass-appeal move?

Either way the movie is wonderful. And hopefully word of mouth can do for it what it did for Despicable Me. Although Despicable Me had better commercials.

Justin said...

The Harry Potter fans are a finite audience. The domestic gross for the past three films has been nearly identical after taking into account inflation. If you've seen the past 6 films you're going to see this one. If you haven't seen the past 6 you're not going to see this one. Goblet of Fire's opening weekend accounted for 1/3 it's domestic gross. Harry Potter is going to be heavily front loaded which leaves a little room for Tangled to make its mark over the holiday season.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Justin. If people want to see a movie, they see it. If they don't, they don't. There are plenty of cases of movies being huge hits despite being released at around the same time as other huge hits.

We remember the cases where an animated movie had a disappointing opening, and we look for excuses like 'the competition,' but we don't remember how much competition there was when a movie performs spectacularly.

We want to believe that the success of a movie we like is solely due to the quality of the film, and the success of movies we don't like is due to marketing and a great release date and the fact that the audience is stupid.

Likewise, we want to believe that the failure of a movie we like is due to external factors, like release dates and bad marketing, while we're equally certain that the failure of movies we hate is because the public could tell it had a weak story or was just plain crappy.

Anonymous said...

Putting Treasure Planet out one week after Harry Potter 2 was a historically bad, bad Disney idea--But then, back in '02, we hadn't yet had the full DVD-industry mentality that audiences were just going to movies once to "audition" the home video sales--Back then, moviegoers HAD to go back to theaters, and second-week business could still be a major player.
Fans by now are used to Harry Potter movies after six of them, and while there's no question it's lined up to be a smash, it's not as likely to "crush" the poor second-week 2nd and 3rd place victims as in past years. (Nowadays, a second-week smash is more in the case of a "surprise" word-of-mouth hit like Iron Man 2 or Despicable Me.)

If Tangled faces any threat, it's more the "Shopping-mall blues" problem that Princess&Frog faced trying to open after Megamind's first-November and before Alvin's Christmas-vacation sweet-spot. And while early mid-November isn't a disaster for family films as much as mid-December, nobody wants to see Tangled become the same scapegoat for it that Frog became.

Anonymous said...

Putting Treasure Planet out one week after Harry Potter 2 was a historically bad, bad Disney idea

Of course, Treasure Planet was a historically bad Disney film. Lots of good animation in there, but it was a terrible, muddled film, and Harry Potter 2 wasn't the cause of that. When Sinbad failed, was it also because of the films that were released a week ahead?

back in '02, we hadn't yet had the full DVD-industry mentality that audiences were just going to movies once to "audition" the home video sales--Back then, moviegoers HAD to go back to theaters, and second-week business could still be a major player.

Actually, by 2002 DVD sales were already a larger portion of a theatrical film's take than the theatrical release. Further, the pattern of most films making about a quarter to a third of their total domestic theatrical gross was already well established by 2002. You're simply wrong about that, and you can spend a few hours at Boxoffice Mojo proving it to yourself. Harry Potter 2 coming out a week before was not the cause of Treasure Planet having a terrible $12 million opening weekend, and not having a good second or third weekend.

You're engaging in the typical fannish rationalization of why films fail or do well at the box office. You like Treasure Planet, but the rest of the audience didn't. It really isn't much more complicated than that.

Anonymous said...

Treasure Planet was a pretty good movie. It got a 69% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, which isn't too shabby. I think it's true that (lack of) marketing and release scheduling played a part in its underperformance.

Don't forget that in addition to opening a week after Potter 2, Treasure Planet released on the very same weekend as Adam Sandler's "Eight Crazy Nights." No one remembers that movie now, but at the time Sandler was very popular and it likely chopped Treasure Planet's opening weekend take nearly in half.

Anonymous said...

Number one, reviews do not a hit make. There are plenty of movies that get lousy reviews, and make a ton of money, and vice versa. Audience appeal and positive reviews are two elements that have almost no connection.

Number two, Eight Crazy Nights tanked. It was a huge flop, and opened in 5th place its opening weekend. Disney had a long history of intentionally opening animated films at the same time as competing, independent animated films, and when they made films the public wanted to see, the Disney film crushed the opposition.

Disney took a great story with an incredibly appealing protagonist, and turned him into a surly, unappealing teenage asshole. They then screwed up Long John Silver's character, added some lame/embarassing secondary characters, put the whole thing in outer space for no particular reason. There are definitely under appreciated gems in the Disney canon, but TP isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

I saw it and I liked it.

Anonymous said...

[Treasure Planet] got a 69% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, which isn't too shabby.

Yeah, it's not too great, either. Face it, it just wasn't a particularly great film. It's true that a complete lack of publicity doomed it, but it never deserved a hard publicity drive anyway.

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