Monday, January 08, 2007

Handicapping Animated Features in '07

It's always flattering when reporters call and ask you for your predictions for the top-grossing animated features of 2007, and last week, two ink-stained wretches actually did. And I bloviated at length.

And it's always challenging, because essentially I have only a little more idea about which picture will rake in the big bucks and which won't than a two-week-old baby. But since I enjoy pulling predictions out of my large intestine and sharing them with a waiting, breathless world, here are my very insightful prognostications:

The top animated feature for 2007 will be....(drum roll)...Shrek III. The picture will make $300 million at the domestic box office. Minimum.

Beyond that, I haven't a clue. The second biggest feature could be one of several:

Maybe it will be the wide-screen, hand-drawn Simpsons Movie, since it will have a huge, built-in audience, and with all the rewrites and polishes of the script, it's bound to be funny, yes? On the other hand, maybe a lot of people will stay home, figuring they can get a lot of the same diet for free on the television version.

Maybe it will be Meet the Robinsons, since the studio buzz has been good and the silent clips that play endlessly in the front hallway of the hat building as you walk in look interesting. Or maybe it will open at the same level as Chicken Little did and go on to gross something around $130-150 million (which is what I think will happen.)

Then there is Surf's Up from Sony Pictures Animation, which had a solid two-base hit with Open Season and is now in the ballgame. And, hell, nobody has gone wrong yet with penguins have they?...

Or perhaps the big #2 will be Ratatouille, which looks zesty from the sequence Disney showed at the stockholder's meeting and does have Brad Bird at the helm...

Or perhaps Jerry Seinfeld will have the magic touch with The Bee Movie next Fall. Could be the sleeper hit, couldn't it?

In short, beyond Shrek there could be any number of viable pretenders to the throne. We'll just have to wait and see.

-- S.R. Hulett


Anonymous said...

People are really tired of shrek...and it's STILL butt ugly and unbearably unfunny.

Nah, Ratatouille will battle it out with the Simpsons movie for top spot.

Kevin Koch said...

It's amusing to me how out of sync many in the animation community are with public tastes regarding Shrek.

Before Shrek 2 opened, I constantly heard how the original movie was a fluke, that that was ugly, etc., etc. Yet when I visited family in the midwest before the second film opened, I was amazed at how eager virtually everyone I met was for Shrek 2. I predicted it would be the hit of the year, and got lots of derisive laughter back in LA . . . until the film opened.

Anonymous said...

I've been saying pretty much the same thing for years, Kevin. It's rare the animation 'community' has a clear idea what the public really likes. Nine out of ten times they're at opposite ends of the spectrum.
I remember going to Disneyland with my family and using a Shrek2 hat to help protect my blad dome and how many of the park employees themselves commented that they were looking forward to S2 hitting the theaters.
Even now many animation critics are declaring the industry in a tailspin and yet in a lot of ways animation owns the box -office and the DVD sales charts.
And for the first time ever in film history animation from studios other than Disney garner praise and good box-office.

Anonymous said...

Shrek is DreamWorks oil reserve. when the flood gates open, it'll fund a whole new slate of films in the years to come.

Studios could be so lucky to have a franchise that actually delivers.

Anonymous said...


dreamworks future has been dependent on the Shrek films that's why shrek 4 is already in production. if you have a solid cow thats giving milk keep hitting her up. the films have their look, but they sure are funny. they will get my 10 bucks this year. everyone panned madagascar until it was the slow but steady winner over audiences.

Anonymous said...


I had no idea you had a blad dome.

I've got one with no hair on it.

Anonymous said... edit function and me with fat fingers and only a high skool edication

Anonymous said...

about the animation community and the public being at odds as to "what is good;" The problem lies with our perception. As people that are huge fans or people that work in animation, we think about it all the time. there's your problem right there... we THINK. The public doesn't much care how pretty something is or how it follows the rules of composition color theory action and all that stuff. They want something they don't have to think to hard about and can keep them from thinking about other things, like a crappy job or hectic homelife.

If I had a dime every time someone told me they wanted to watch a movie that they didn't want to "think" about I could fund my own independant feature film. Which explains Shrek and Hoodwinked. What sells more? Candy or Carrots? As well-nutritioned people that grew up on classics and studied the best of animation we all know that carrots = good. But for people that don't think about this stuff and, frankly, don't care, they'd much rather take the candy with absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

I guess the best we can hope for is something that's genuinely GOOD and entertaining to the general, typically midwestern audience. Something like the "Incredibles" I guess would be decribed as a nice, juicy steak with all the right seasonings. It has it's good stuff, but it ain't exactly health food and at the same time it's not junk food either. It's some we can all appreciate. It just seems to be a cop-out when studios pump out "popcorn" films. Stuff they know sells, but sure as heck ain't art.

Anonymous said...

what we are talking about here is "the lowest common denominator", which is hardly a measure of good entertainment.
it garners a large crowd so some people might assume that it has genuine value as an art form. they are wrong.
conversely, there are those who have their necks craned to look up at the films which push artistic boundaries that only those of us in the creators community pay mind to. this is a misguided perception as well.

there is such a thing as entertainment that fulfills BOTH worlds.
look at Groucho Marx. his humor and showmanship are funny to the layman and the aristocrat alike. everything about his performance and material was so consummately entertaining that not only did he attract an audience from all walks of life, he never pandered to one segment of society exclusively - and his humor certainly wasnt the lowest common denominator. it was refined, clever, and appealing. thats all that people see lackingin the Shrek franchise and i'll be damned if someone tells me box office receipts or the opinons of park employees dash away the pioneers of entertainment.
unfortunately Shrek is not a Max Brothers movie. its a movie franchise that caters to the lowest common denominator. it will make money and fill seats, but please don't try to convince me that farting in a mud puddle, and professional wrestling jokes are the best Dreamworks can muster, because those artists are smarter and more talented than that.

other superb entertainers and films that appeal to one and all: Laurel & Hardy, Mel Brooks, The Princess Bride, Peter Sellers/Pink Panther.

the animation community doesn't have their head in the wrong place if they disagree on the worth of an animated film like Shrek, they are simply left out of the lucrative lowest common denominator target audience.

Anonymous said...

"the animation community doesn't have their head in the wrong place if they disagree on the worth of an animated film like Shrek, they are simply left out of the lucrative lowest common denominator target audience."

Shrewk is not a film that succeeds because of appealing to "the lowest common denominator" at all. Have you actually seen it? If you did, did you go in expecting a horrible film before seeing it?
Look, I'm no fan at all of the look of the film, but it has genuine wit, some heart in there--and an awful lot of (jesus christ, I'm going to say it again, god help me)character-driven humor in it. a LOT. That is why it was not only a success, but likeable anough that millions went over & over, told their friends to go, and went to see the sequel.
I think Shrek has been merchandised and is ugly enough that many--too many--animation people dismiss it's real worth, which is THERE. And I went into the theatre expecting to hate it, btw.

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