Saturday, September 21, 2013

Traffic Jams and Maximizing Profit

Schedules are, apparently, being shifted.

The animation exodus from 2014 is continuing as Universal Pictures announced that it will move its “Minions in 3D,” a spinoff from the blockbuster “Despicable Me” franchise, from December 2014 to July 10, 2015.

The move comes the same week that Disney said it was moving its troubled Pixar Animation Studios title “The Good Dinosaur” from May 2014 to November 25, 2015. ...

Universal said it was postponing the “Minions” release date not because of production issues but to maximize the film’s box office revenue. ... Sony Pictures will now have to decide whether to move its “Smurfs 3,” which is scheduled to come out just two weeks after the “Minions” movie, to safer ground. The last "Smurfs" film was trounced by "Despicable Me 2" at the box office. ...

Competition among animated films is skyrocketing. This year, 11 animated movies will be released widely, up from six a decade ago. Even with “Minions” and “The Good Dinosaur” moving out of next year, 2015’s animated slate still includes “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” “Rio 2,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and “Planes: Fire & Rescue.” ...

Disney, Sony, Viacom and Fox are usually good at seeing the piles of money sitting in front of their faces. Animated features are the big profit centers among theatrical movies (though our fine, entertainment conglomerates can always overwork the Golden Goose, can't they?)

It's still undetermined how many animated entertainments are "too much." I would submit that if it's a movie audiences want to see, there's no such thing as "too much."

Personally, I think next year's feature slate will be more consistent in the earnings department than this one. Reports I get on Peabody and Sherman are strong. I'm told that the picture's come together in a solid way, the time travel angle is executed with aplomb, and the film is actually "about" something.

Rio 2 is a sequel that will likely deliver the audience of the first entry (though I'm speaking generally; I've heard little one way or the other.)

Dragons 2 has gotten good buzz right along and should should perform well. And the next Planes will have a bit more production oomph than the first. (For one thing, it'll be in wide screen.) I've got no idea if the story and character development is stronger than the first.

So to sum up: I think DreamWorks will avoid anything like the snail misfire of 2013, Blue Sky Studios will produce a mid-list hit, and the Disney Toons picture will perform to Diz Co.'s expectations. (Something around $90-$100 million gross, with lots of toys sold.)

And a year hence, will see if my powers of prognostication are any good.


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