Monday, March 09, 2009

Dog Pictures

And I don't mean bad films. I mean features with canines in them.

Fox has signed director Tom Dey to develop a big-screen adaptation of "Marmaduke" ...

Fox no doubt registered the huge response to the Fox 2000/Regency Enterprises 2007 hit "Alvin and the Chipmunks," directed by Tim Hill. The family comedy, which mixed live-action human characters and CG-animated rodent protagonists, grossed $358 million worldwide. A sequel, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," is in production for a Christmas Day release ...

Try talking about Marmaduke or Alvin and the Chipmunks with an animation artist, and you'll most likely get a grimace. ("Why don't they try something new?!") But Hollywood execs love these films because many of them come with a license to open your own mint, and ...stop me if you've heard this before ... M-O-N-E-Y is, first and always, Tinsel Town's raison d'etre.

Even though citizens of taste and breeding (you and me) might dislike ancient comics-page characters getting recycled into big-budget films, the bright minds in the front office don't really care what we dislike. They read balance sheets, and they know who issues their weekly paychecks.

In the past five months, there have been three doggie films: the live-action entry (Marley and Me -- $175 million worldwide gross), the combination film (Beverly Hills Chihuahua -- $138 million worldwide gross) and the c.g. animated feature (Bolt -- $285 million w.w. gross).

All three will make their studios money, and in an industry that plays the odds the way Grannie plays casino slot machines (fifty years ago there were twenty-eight television westerns on the air at the same time because cowboys were hot), Fox, Disney, Paramount and the rest will be making more movies ... a lot more ... with cuddlesome animals in them.

But don't get too downhearted. The studios are also not going to stop making zombie and slasher movies either, no matter how repulsed part of the viewing public is. Because the name of the game is box office grosses, and when large sums are at stake, as many perceived sure bets as possible will get made.


Brubaker said...

So we'll we see the execs dusting off the old "Marmaduke" cartoons that Ruby-Spears made in the eighties (which aired alongside "Heathcliff")?

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