Sunday, March 22, 2009

Monsters March on Moscow

The new DreamWorks Animation extravaganza won't open stateside until Friday, but it's already tearing up the wickets elsewhere.

DreamWorks Animation/Paramount's "Monsters vs. Aliens," made its overseas debut in Russian and the Ukraine a week before to its domestic bow. The 3-D animated film finished at No. 1 in both markets, registering a total of $6.9 million from 632 spots.

At 755 screens at 560 sites in Russia, the tally was $6.6 million, the fourth-largest market opener for an animation title. The gross was, per Paramount, 15% ahead of last year's "Kung Fu Panda" and 80% bigger than that of Oscar winner "WALL-E." Ukraine tally was $350,000 from 72 screens.

The 115 3-D screens played in Russia produced a $17,000 per-screen average, "well ahead of the $6,700 average for conventional 2-D screens," Paramount said. All "Monsters vs. Aliens" showings at three Imax venues were sold out. In all, 32% of the total business came from 3-D venues, which comprised only 15% of the total prints ...

So this 3-D thing, it looks like it might catch on, yes? And DreamWorks Animation appears to have yet another hit on its hands. We'll know what kind of hit by next Sunday ...

Meanwhile, the continuing takes of other 'toons in overseas venues is not half shabby.

Disney Animation's "Bolt" -- $177 million

Universal's "The Tale of Despereaux" -- $32.7 million

Universal's "Coraline" -- $8 million

DreamWorks Animation/Paramount's "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" -- $406 million

Let's review, shall we? The French entry Despereaux approaches the $100 million marker; Madagascar Deux is a runaway smash hit, clocking in at over half a billion in total international moolah; Coraline is either just beginning to roll out ... or underperforming (methinks the former),.

And The White Doggie is closing in on $300 million ($177 million overseas plus $114 million domestic equals $291 million and change.)

All in all, animation seems to be doing nicely in this time of trouble and woe.


Khylov said...

Wait, did I read that correctly? It debuted in Ukraine and Russia before domestically?

If that's correct, I have an idea of why that is, but I'd be interested to hear someone's take on that.

Steve Hulett said...

To get out ahead of the Pirates?

Anonymous said...

YES! That is the reason.

Anonymous said...

That isn't the reason.

According to the above article, they released it sooner so it could achieve maximum profit from kid’s spring break in Russia.

Khylov said...

Astute observations, and I agree with all of them. I hadn't thought about the piracy thing at first, but that's very true.

Couple of things that I initially thought were:

Russia and Ukraine have the usual lag in the "what's cool" transfer from US/Western EU to Eurasia - kind of a 10 year gap most times. What's typical and expected w/ an American audience is a big wow factor over there - whether it be visual fx or story. More of a privilege there to see a film in theater, and former Soviet countries are an easier sell for American media at times. So, more fertile market to boost initial returns first few weeks.

Plus (and the more pessimistic thought)... maybe this is a shift in studio thinking: If market here is bad, go overseas. What's a disappointing first week here may be a smash hit over there. Basic economics, and maybe a bit of marketing schmoozing, so as to claim "big box office smash" hooplah later on.

I'm thinking that the real litmus test will be when movies are scheduled to be released in India a week or two before the US date - they *love* film and the theater experience, even more so than the US I think. And maybe... when you start seeing movie reviews and the usual "Two thumbs up!" from foreign press agencies.

When and if studios collectively and regularly move their focus for first week box office returns from overseas coffers, then you know: They've demoted the US audience down a notch.

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