Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cartoon Costs

Den of Geek says:

... The Princess And The Frog reportedly cost around $105m to make, and took in $104m at the US box office. Elsewhere, it added $162m to its total, meaning from cinemas alone, it brought in $267m.

Tangled's figures are scarier. Because, on face value, it did well. It took in $199m in the States, $389m elsewhere, and before it hit DVD and Blu-ray, it had grossed $588m from cinemas alone. The problem? The negative cost, before marketing and distribution, was apparently a staggering $260m.

These are the kinds of commentaries that are crazy-making. Because despite the qualifiers ("apparently," "reportedly"), they give the impression that the public-record shows what this or that motion picture actually cost.

Now, somewhere deep in the catacombs of the Disney Co. or Time-Warner or Viacom, some overworked accountant has a record of what amount of loot was spent on which picture. But nobody in InternetLand knows. Everyone is guessing. Entertainment companies cook the books all the time, for any number of reasons. It's been going on since the days of the Nickelodeon.

Tangled may or may not have cost a quarter billion dollars. It all depends on what the studio chooses to tally. Development on the feature started while Shrek Uno was still a gleam in Jeffrey Katzenberg's eye, so the picture was in its gestation period a looong time. And there were a lot of salaries riding on Rapunzel's long, silky hair.

But let us drill down to the nub, shall we? Nothing prevents our fine entertainment conglomerates from moving costs to some other movie's production number, or charging development to "studio overhead" to make stockholders less unhappy or participants of "net" profits less rich. Long ago, charges for Disney's Oliver and Company were shifted to Disney's Great Mouse Detective, just like that. And back when Warner Bros. Feature Animation, then located on Brand Boulevard in sunny Glendale, was circling the drain, a mid-level exec told me:

"Know how much Quest for Camelot really cost? Up above two hundred million dollars. But the main lot just went ahead and put a big piece of that onto feature animation's overhead." ...

(This was probably a wise thing to do, since the picture grossed a towering $22 million domestically, and it wouldn't have looked real good to have a theatrical cume that was 10% of production costs.)

But to the larger point (yet again): When somebody writes about how much a movie cost, or how much a movie made (and remember, there are various cash flows from lots of sources over lengthy periods of time) they are most likely using inaccurate data.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

He left off that Tangled is still the #1 DVD in 2011 with 86 million in sales so far.

Also, Tangled merchandise at the Disney store and other retailers have probably made a pretty penny for the Disney Co.

Anonymous said...

What's the point, anyway? Don't invest in Disney feature films because they aren't "really" profitable? Try selling that one.

Floyd Norman said...

In the entertainment industry you never know which lie to believe. An animation executive one told me I was making too much money.

Must have been that new Rolls Royce I was driving.

Anonymous said...

Well, all signs internally point to that Disney execs (Rich Ross and Bob Iger) were extremely happy with Tangled's performance, and are enthusiastic about the current lineup of films.

Tron, on the other hand...

Anonymous said...

Tangled may have cost a mint but it looked great.

Michael said...

Saw that article earlier and rolled my eyes. Any talk of Tangled's budget is just going to be hoodoo. After all, they pretty much developed 4 or 5 separate movies over the period of about 10 years. Only a fraction of those hundreds of millions went into what we wound up seeing in theaters.

Would love to have some public movement on the slate post-Pooh, though.

Anonymous said...

The Tangled merchandise did OK. NOT "great." And you won't be seeing much of it any more. Movies like Toy Story and Cars are evergreen, as is Pooh.

I was surprised at how little Pooh has made to date:

$5,552,074 world wide.

Not a good sign. Apparently people are leaving after the Pooh film and not staying for the Nessie short out of boredom.

Anonymous said...

"...Nothing prevents our fine entertainment conglomerates from moving costs to some other movie's production number, or charging development to "studio overhead"..."


The executive producer at IMD got caught by Disney hiding cost overruns for ACC into the pre-production budget columns of MNM. That didn't help IMD when it was time to decide whether to close it or keep it open.

Anonymous said...

The Tangled merchandise did OK. NOT "great."

I'd like to know where you get that information, because all internal reports at the hat building talk of huge revenues from tangled merch, and more to come.

Anonymous said...

...and you believe those people in charge? roflmao

Anonymous said...

Internal reports at the hat building indicate that Tangled merchandising lost money.

Inside the Hat said...

Fine. Here you go, you dumb fucks.

http://www.earningswhispers.com/newsarticle.asp?symbol=DIS&article=158431849&adate=5/10/2011%204:15:02%20PM

"Consumer Products revenues for the quarter increased 5% to $626 million and segment operating income increased 7% to $142 million as improvements at the Disney Store North America and Merchandise Licensing were offset by a decrease at Publishing.

The increase at the Disney Store North America was primarily due to comparable store sales growth and improved margins reflecting the strength of Tangled and Toy Story merchandise. Improved Merchandise Licensing results reflected the strong performance of Cars and Tangled merchandise."

Argue those facts you pieces of shit. Or continue trolling. Whatever. But your lies have been exposed.

Steve Hulett said...

Gee. Somebody rumor-mongers. Then somebody cites specifics with SOURCES.

Who you gonna believe?

Anonymous said...

Actually both could be true. Disney very well could have benefited by licensing Tangled to a ton of companies - they rarely make their own merchandise and when they do they still have the Disney subdivision pay a license fee to the Parent company.
But those companies (after they paid their licensing fees) may have found themselves not moving the merchandise like they had hoped.
That wouldn't initially impact Disney because they still made their cash up front, but it would impact how these companies view them in the future and whether they're anxious to license the next movie from Disney.

And "inside the hat" you really need to get outside a little more often and try growing up.

Anonymous said...

I dont think you can spin it. I think the numbers speak for themselves. Looks like Tangled is a hit both at the box office, home dvd sales, and merchandise. Nice job Disney.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 9:46. In the rarefied air of Disney corporate, losses are not necessarily "actual" losses. They are only relative losses compared with goals and projections. It's true, the way DCP is structured, it's difficult to imagine them actually "losing" anything. That is not to say that no one is held accountable when goals aren't met. Expect to see the supervisors fired and the department cleared. There is no safe space in the organization. Ask Michael.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting sources, Inside the Hat.

But try to keep the discussion civil. Insulting people just makes you lose credibility.

Anonymous said...

I think posing blatant lies is much less civil than using words mommy doesnt like you to say.

Anonymous said...

No, both are crummy.

Anonymous said...

"Argue those facts you pieces of shit. Or continue trolling. Whatever. But your lies have been exposed."

And according to that link, most of the CR revenue came from Toy Story 3, not tangled.

Facts. They're hard to believe, but there you go.

Just stop making things up.

Anonymous said...

You have to recognize the fact that "head inside Mickey's hat" is a conservative and doesn't know what real facts are. As all conservatives they latch onto a talking point and figure if they can yell louder than everyone else it must be true.

By this Summer you won't be able to find hardly any merchandise to support tangled in Disney's own stores (assuming there's any there now) and that tells the real story of whether Tangled is the merchandise juggernaut that Asshat pretends it is. If it was as huge as he dreams it would be evergreen - as is Cars and Toy Story.
He should go crawl back into that asshat and let the grownups talk.

Anonymous said...

And according to that link, most of the CR revenue came from Toy Story 3, not tangled.

I'm sorry, where are you reading that? Could you please provide a quote, because I read the whole report and it didn't indicate anywhere that TS3 outperformed Tangled in consumer products. In fact the only quote I found was the one provided by Inside the Hat. Are YOU making stuff up?

Man. The commenter provides cold hard facts, yet you dimwits still spew garbage (see above poster) and pretend it's fact?

I sincerely think there are non industry trolls hanging out here just to talk trash.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, yeah, I read it too and I'm not seeing where it indicates Cars or Toy Story merchandise did better than Tangled. In fact, one could argue that Tangled was mentioned twice and Cars and TS3 was only mentioned once.

Who are these people who are so negative? Ex Disney employees?

Anonymous said...

It does--look at the release dates in correlation to the profit span. Tangled did mild business. Toy Story 3 did gangbusters.

Tangled was a fun cartoon. And it did better at the WW box office than anticipated. But it did NOT set the world on fire either at the box office or at the toy stores. Not at all.

Anonymous said...

I went back and looked and the only dates listed are April of 2010 and April of 2011. (year over year changes). Are you looking at a different chart?

Anonymous said...

The person stating that Tangled did mild business is either a troll, misinformed, a bitter ex Disney employee, or all three.

Anonymous said...

Compared to the cost (for whatever reasons) it WAS mild. Take some basic economics classes.

And Tangled toys did OK when the film came out, but not any more--and no where near the Pixar films.

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOD FOR THE LAST TIME, EITHER QUOTE SOURCES OR S H U T U P

Did you even READ the above report?

Anonymous said...

It's painfully obvious both in the report and on the shelves: Tangled did not do well via consumer products. Disney does NOT consider it an "evergreen" product. There will be no sequels. It is not part of their business model.

Just the facts. Get over it.

I love the film, too.

Wesley Dumont said...

you guys are in animation. why do angry?

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