Monday, October 02, 2006

No End to the Good Times

I have to admit it. I had serious worries about how "Open Season" would perform over the first weekend of October. The timing was maybe not auspicious. "OS" was coming at the end of what had been touted as a summer "animation glut." And after the weak-kneed opening of "Everyone's Hero," who knew how the new animal flick would do?...

But after "Season's" opening weekend, I think we can all breathe easier. The public hasn't gotten tired of animation, anymore than an underperformer in live-action means that -- oops -- it's time to strike the tent and stop making flicks filmed with a camera and breathing actors.

If anything, what the "OS" #1 opening demonstrates is that there remains a strong and viable market for animated features. Unlike a decade ago, it's not restricted to Disney. We've now seen four other animation studios turn out c.g.i. features that debuting at the top of the box office charts (Sony, Fox, Pixar and DreamWorks.)

Prior to the new millenium, this feat was unprecedented. In '06 alone, "Cars" opened at #1. "Over the Hedge" opened at #2 (mostly because "The Da Vinci Code sucked all the oxygen out of the air that particular weekend), and "Ice Age 2" not only performed well domestically, but set foreign box office on fire.

What's becoming clearis that theatrical animation is a viable commodity no matter which entity produces it. Make a film with value and entertainment (attached to a credible advertising budget), and your film can open. Not every animated feature is going to hit a grand slam, but the theatrical and ancillary markets guarantee that quality productions will create sizable cash flows.

Most movie companies have no doubt noticed this phenomena. Which is why they continue to pile into the business of animated features, glut or no glut.


Anonymous said...

Um, yeah it opened at #1--on a very, very, very weak boxoffice weekend. "Open Season" only made $23 million--and that is the ONLY fact that actually matters. Using the standard projection, the movie will likely only make between 60-80 million, which is certainly far less than Sony spent on it.

I hope it does better overseas, and can compensate. It was a good first effort, and deserved to make more. But let's not kid ourselves with the abstract "#1" rank--it just didn't perform well at all. It is far from certain that Sony and others will want to continue pumping huge sums of money into CG features, and that is very worrisome.

Anonymous said...

Welll. I'd say it's kind of on the cusp. If "OS" had made $18 million, it would have been a very bad sign. If it had made $30 million or more, the champagne corks would be popping.

I recall that "Prince of Egypt," all those years ago, had a weak opening weekend. It went on to gross around $200 million worldwide. (As I remember. I could look it up, but I'm lazy.)

After a relatively strong summer, verall domestic b.o. has sagged once again. I'll be interested to see how this film holds up. Do we now suffer from "animation fatigue?" Ask me after "Shrek III" comes out.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think that Sony could have brought in more money after a glut of CG films this summer?? I think they did fairly well considering it's their first film. Also I have to say that their visuals were scrumdiddlyumtious!

Anonymous said...

i don't think there IS a glut of CG movies anymore than there is a glut of horror movies or romance movies.

what there is a ridiculous glut of, is animation studios lacking ANY imagination with their projects and letting pinheaded executives try and cash in on "the latest trend!"
first it was fish, and now we have taling animals but hold onto your socks because the penguin movies are coming!

its embarassing.
our industry is stuck in a pathetic rut of conformity, and conformity is the absolute opposite of creativity. i'm glad Sonyy is going to take a bath on their talking animal picture. its insulting that they thin the public would swayed along like lemmings to see "Over The Hedge" and then "Barnyard" and then "Open Season".

how many car chase movie are you going to see this summer? four? of course not. you make a concious decision to pick the best one like any sensible person and that exactyl what parents AND kids(they are that smart) do with the smae subject matter covered by every animation studio.
these studios are being run like campus booster clubs making floats for the parade.

when will they learn? when will they have the integrity to carve their own path and think up a new unique story?
i guess thats too much to ask some of these execs.

Steve Hulett said...

The NYT has a piece about this subject in today's paper. See "Doom and Gloom" post above.

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