Monday, April 16, 2007

News to Peruse

(To the left: Bob and Harvey W.)

Our weekend lassoing together of (mostly) 'toon news:

A New York Times article about the Weinstein Co.'s early struggles for financial viability contains at least one upbeat paragraph:

...[Bob Weinstein] also pointed to bright spots in the box-office record, which, by his tally, added up to $311 million in ticket sales last year. “Scary Movie 4,” split with Disney, took in nearly $180 million in worldwide ticket sales last year. And “Hoodwinked,” he noted, cost the company less than $10 million, and far exceeded expectations when it took in $100 million at the global box office, showing a path toward success in animation, where the brothers had never been a presence.

Trust us, the W. Brothers are a presence in animation now. They co-financed TMNT and have a cluster of other animated projects waiting in the wings...

Universal-NBC-General Electric is finally getting around to mining the old Universal cartoon library; come July 24, a cavalcade of Woody Woodpecker cartoons hits the marketplace:

The three-disc collection priced at $39.98 features 75 zany adventures, including eight Academy Award-nominated shorts, and offers more than an one hour of vintage bonus materials, such as the doc "Walter, Woody and the World of Animation," behind-the-scenes footage and a full episode of THE WOODY WOODPECKER SHOW.

Older news: Vincent, one of Tim Burton's early animated efforts will get the 3-D treatment, the better to play with the 3-D version of Nightmare Before Christmas

Ben Stiller, according to the Hollywood Reporter, will move from simple DreamWorks Animation voice-actor to DreamWorks Animation 'toon producer:

DreamWorks Animation has acquired Alan Schoolcraft & Brent Simons' superhero sendup spec "Master Mind," with Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld producing through their Red Hour Films banner.

Newer news: Variety reports on various Disney conundrums, from stock option repairs where Disney tells the Security and Exchange commision "it would issue newly priced options to those[Pixar] employees and pay as much as $34 million to those with backdated options..." to the seemingly unending Winnie the Pooh lawsuit:

Rhetoric between the Slesinger family and Disney heated up again Monday after reps for the Slesingers issued a statement that Disney had "cancel(ed) a mediation conference in federal court" in the Slesingers' suit over Winnie the Pooh royalties.

The Mouse House immediately responded by declaring that, like any party in a lawsuit, it had no legal obligation to settle or attend a settlement meeting.

Although not about animation, this article in today's LA TIMES regarding the big-budget Sahara throws a bright light on how pictures run up large budgets and gather in cash. And why a lot of them end up in the loss column:

Unlike most financial failures, "Sahara" performed reasonably well, ranking No. 1 after its opening weekend and generating $122 million in gross box-office sales. But the movie was saddled with exorbitant costs, including a $160-million production and $81.1 million in distribution expenses.

The financial documents obtained by The Times were submitted as "confidential" exhibits in an ongoing Los Angeles jury trial.

Wouldn't it be fun to have detailed budget breakdowns and ledger sheets of gross film revenues for every live-action and animated feature? (For us it would be fun. But probably not so much merriment for the studios.)

Have a fine and productive workweek. And try not to do too much unpaid overtime...


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