Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Foreign Derby

A commenter asks: "So is The Princess and the Frog successful or not?"

And the Hollywood Reporter partially answers:

Winding up at No. 5 was Disney Animation's '"The Princess and the Frog," which drew $9.5 million from 2,929 screens in 17 territories for an overseas cume of $45 million. A third Italy weekend provided $2.9 million from 550 sites for a market cume of $12.9 million ...

So let's do the math. TP&TH has a domestic total of $86 million and half that overseas, for a grand total of $131 million against a $105 million production cost.

Sadly, not a monster hit.

The animated product now in the hit department (or approaching it) would be as follows:

"Avatar" started the new decade dominating the foreign circuit by grossing an estimated $133.5 million on the weekend -- down just 13% from the prior stanza -- from more than 13,500 screens in 110 markets ...

Worldwide in just 21 days, director James Cameron's mega-budget epic has rolled up total boxoffice of $1.022 billion (comprising $670.2 million offshore and $352.1 million domestic) ...

Finishing third was Fox's family-oriented title "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," which grossed $32 million from 6,105 locations in 54 markets. Overseas cume stands at a hair under $100 million ($99.1 million) ... Still generating boxoffice in Japan at 618 situations was Pixar/Disney's "Up," which has grossed a total of $422 million offshore. ...Sony's "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," $83.6 million (after a $2.8 million weekend at 910 screens in 21 markets) ...

Clearly there are a lot of animated titles currently performing in foreign markets, but some are performing more energetically than others.


Ismael Hernández said...

Many Disney films have performed like this before.

I predict 320$ million total. For a Disney film after years of bad prestige it is a hit.

Anonymous said...

I predict 170 million total.

Unless youre counting DVD sales too

Steve Hulett said...

In this instance, I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that as of this morning Box Office Mojo is not yet reporting any of the international box-office gross for Frog.

A site called The Numbers is reporting Frog's international gross at $27 million to date, combined with domestic gross of $86,085,000 million for a total worldwide gross of $113,085,000 to date (Jan. 4).

On a production budget of $105 million how much does Frog need to pull in cumulatively to move into the profitable column ?

Steve, will you be posting an ongoing series of 'Green Froggy Watch' reports to match your 'White Doggy Watch' reports from last year ?

Anonymous said...

[adding to my post above] -

Duh, sorry ... I didn't read carefully enough that The Hollywood Reporter already has Frog's international box-office grosses at $45 million, so cumulative to date (Jan. 4) is $131 million.

Which , as you say is "Sadly, not a monster hit."

But at this point I'm not looking for Frog to be a "monster hit", but wondering what it has to do in the remaining domestic release and in the international release to make it out of "it flopped" status and into "it broke-even/didn't lose money" status. (just like when "Bolt" was floundering in late 2008 , early 2009 ... and you were so thoughtful to provide regular updates to demonstrate that "Bolt" wasn't actually an outright flop.)

Anonymous said...

The word "flop" is an interesting one, because I think its so subjective. Another movie from 2008 that made around 300 million worldwide was Horton Hears a Who, and I never hear anyone call it a flop.

Anonymous said...'s all about expectations.

There are BIG expectations for a movie coming out of Disney following in Pixar's wake as well as the first film ushered completely through by JL. The JL factor is pretty key here.
It will need to land somehere north of the weakest performing Pixar films to satisfy everyone though it won't need to be a Nemo or Shrek monster hit (though that would've been nice). Just breaking even isn't goo.

Scotty said...

Did TPATF really cost $105 Mil? How much of that was advertising, and how much was actual production cost? And how much more exciting can the Chipmunks be running around in our world, than a hand drawn animated film
about a princess?

Anonymous said...

"Just breaking even isn't good".

Yeah, I agree , but how good will be good enough?

I wonder how many of the Disney CG animated movies under Lasseter's watch have actually made money (as opposed to just breaking even) during their initial theatrical release?

If "Bolt" cost as much as reported -- $150 million -- then would Bolt's $308 million worldwide gross be considered profitable? Sometimes I read here that the conventional wisdom says a film has to gross twice it's production cost to get to the break-even point where it can actually start to make money . At $308 million worldwide gross then "Bolt" got over the break-even point by $8 million. Or is that wrong ? Did it break even before that point and it actually made money ? That's what I'm trying to figure out in terms of what Frog will need to do worldwide before it's considered to have moved beyond break-even and into the profitable column.

Box Office Mojo doesn't report a budget for "Meet the Robinsons" , but given that Lasseter ordered a major retooling of Robinsons before it was released I would guess that it also cost in the neighborhood of $130 to $150 million. "Meet the Robinsons" was widely regarded as a disappointment at the box-office with it's worldwide cumulative gross of $169.3 million. (if it had to gross two times it's production cost , assuming at least a $130 million budget, then it needed to have made at least $260 million to break even, right ? Or is that "conventional wisdom" wrong?)

However, after two somewhat disappointing "underperforming" CG animated films the Disney Co. does not appear as though it is pulling back from making more CG animated films. So if Princess and the Frog does similar numbers to Meet the Robinsons and Bolt then that means ... what ? Will the future of hand-drawn movies still be in doubt because Frog posted pretty much the same sort of lackluster box-office numbers as Robinsons and Bolt ?

(keeping in mind that Frog cost less than Robinsons or Bolt .)

Tom Sito said...

I am surprised this year that Disney split their mojo between Zemeckis' Christmas Carol and Princes & Frog as their holiday entry. Princess never got to be booked at the Disney premiere headliners the El Capitan in LA and the New Amsterdam in NY. They remain for Christmas Carol. Doesn't seem a wise use of resources, if ya ask me.

Anonymous said...

I seriously doubt Frog cost $105million. More like 60-70. You can never believe what numbers are released by studios.

Anonymous said...

"I seriously doubt Frog cost $105million. More like 60-70. You can never believe what numbers are released by studios."


Wow, if TP & TF only cost $60 mil it will have much less of a steep climb to make a profit.

That would be good news if it's true. Why do you think that it cost $60 - $70 mil instead of the more widely reported $105 mil ?

Anonymous said...

I have always heard (and maybe it's changed) that a film needs to make 3x its production budget DOMESTICALLY.
Int'l money ahs to stay overseas - or so I've heard.

As to what Frog cost I would assume it actaully cost more than they're reporting because they wouldn't want to appear to be throwing money away at this point in time (though they have been known Disney to lump on studio overhead onto a film's budget a long time ago). Clearly there's not a 105 mill on screen, but you have to realize this would probably include the price of starting up a new 2D feature studio - something they never had to deal with in the past.

Anonymous said...

More like 60-70.

No, no, no. I thinks its somewhere between 72 and 87 million. Anyone else have a guess?

Anonymous said...


"I have always heard (and maybe it's changed) that a film needs to make 3x its production budget DOMESTICALLY. Int'l money has to stay overseas."


Ok .... so, previously I've read that a film has to make back 2x it's production budget overall , but now you're saying it actually has to make 3x it's production budget at the domestic box-office because the international box-office money stays overseas.

Can anyone confirm that ? (Steve ? )

If a film has to make back 2x or 3x it's production budget domestically then no recent Disney animated film has made money.

Chicken Little = cost $150 million , made $135,386,665 domestic

Meet the Robinsons = cost $130 million (?) , made $97,822,171 domestic

Bolt = cost $150 million , made $114,053,579 domestic.

It really is a shell game isn't it ?

Anonymous said...

International box office money stays overseas? No way.

Who gets the money? The government? I dont believe it. Why even bother releasing it overseas if you dont even get the money?

You think the Toyota doesnt get the money you paid for the car?

Anonymous said...

The budget was $105 million, NOT counting promotional costs.

Overall, the movie is a disappointment.

My 2 Cents said...

"Overall, the movie is a disappointment."

Compared to what? Who set the bar? It was lively, entertaining and fun. It demonstrated that Disney, in spite of the time off, is still capable of producing a first class hand drawn animated feature film. AND, in a very busy season, people came to see it.
Yes, more would have been better, but the movie proved it's point. Who officially pronounced it a disappointment, anyway?

Anonymous said...

"Who officially pronounced it a disappointment, anyway?"

The public by not going to see it. When a movie doiesn't make a profitit is a can soft pedal it all you like and say it was an artistic success or it'll make money on DVD sales or merchandise, but when a film bombs at the box office it IS a disappointmant.

Anonymous said...

That would be good news if it's true. Why do you think that it cost $60 - $70 mil instead of the more widely reported $105 mil ?

It isn't really coming from me. I'm regurgitating what was told to me by another producer.

However, I can say with with 100% certainty that what the general public is told about budgets is rarely true. It is almost always inflated or deflated to conceal one thing or another. This practice seems especially rampant at Disney.

Anonymous said...

I should also add that besides the general public being kept in the dark, most of the people at the studio are too.

Anonymous said...

People are way to ready to call a film a failure or disappointment. Many, many, MANY of my all time favorite films were considered 'disappointments.' Often films become loved for reasons that aren't completely clear by anyone when they are first released. Everyone is so eager to call the game in this town. Time changes perspective.

Anonymous said...

I worked on the film, and I heard 70-75 million (as a budget figure) thrown around once or twice in meetings. I don't honestly know what the truth actually is, but people were always talking about how "we made our film for half of what the CG films cost". So, don't know... but I'd be willing to bet it was less than 105 considering how little they actually were willing to spend on everything and everyone.

Anonymous said...

It definitely is a disappointment. Simply put...given the numbers, the film isn't going to be profitable. The film actually technically cost less than $105M (production budget is more like $80M, but when you add in overhead and such nonsense, it's more like $140M so it's not that cheap), and certainly less than CG movies. Granted, you've got another $150m in distribution costs. But...costing less than Bolt isn't that great a feat, given how much money that thing lost.

Unfortunately, this film definitely underperformed. Though it's not a massive bomb, it is definitely disappointing for Disney.

Steve Hulett said...

Where I come by the $105 million production cost:

1) It's what I deduce from salaries and staff levels at the studio; from the amount of outsourcing; and what previous productions have cost.

2) It's what long-time Disney staffers told me the movie production budget was.

3) It's the figure that's already out there (as Box Office Mojo and other places.)

Which isn't to say the total is accurate. Studios are well-known for shifting costs and cooking books. It's simply the most accurate figure that I know about.

Anonymous said...

Sounds plausible to me.

Ok, let's go with $105 million.

So, Steve, what does TP & TF have to make to be considered "not-a-flop" ? What's the CW on that ? 2x the production budget ? 3x the production budget ?

Steve Hulett said...

In the old days, if a picture made double its production cost, it was considered a fine little money-maker.

Now the rule of thumb is triple the production cost, although I'm always skeptical about Rules of Thumb. You would have to know what all the ACTUAL costs of a picture were, including promotion, and I just don't think civilians ever know what a entertainment conglom's real costs are.

And earnings can go on forever. Gone With the Wind* still enjoys healthy income 70+ years later, ditto The Ten Commandments, old animated features, even minor titles that end up in boxed sets of DVDs, or licensed to cable or broadcast.

The funny thing about Wind is that the film has profit participants. David Selznick sold his rights to the film, but his older brother Myron had a small percentage which I believe is still held by his estate.


Anonymous said...

Good point about how animated films in particular have a very long shelf-life and sometimes even increase in popularity as time goes by.

Look at the DVD/Blu-Ray sales figures for hand-drawn animated films which were originally considered flops like Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" or "Pinocchio". I think just this past year "Pinocchio:70th Anniversary Special Edition" made $44,925,845 in DVD sales. (and of course in this case that $44.9 million is from an old movie which had paid for itself many times over years ago in subsequent theatrical re-releases and previous home video releases.)

The previous year "Sleeping Beauty" made $36.5 million in DVD sales. "101 Dalmatians" made $43.7 million. There still seems to be some audience out there for good hand-drawn animation.

With the home video sales in flux I wonder how "The Princess & the Frog" will do when it is released to the home video market ? Even with the changing market I expect it will rake in a hefty sum.

Anonymous said...


Steve Hulett says ...

"Now the rule of thumb is triple the production cost, although I'm always skeptical about Rules of Thumb. You would have to know what all the ACTUAL costs of a picture were"


So we can't really know.


Then why is everyone so quick to write down The Princess and the Frog , especially given the long-term earning potential for animated films that Steve mentioned above ?

Anonymous said...

It is very mysterious trying to get reliable information on what the films actually cost.

What about the figures that a site like Box Office Mojo publishes ? Are they just guessing ? Should we not place any credibility in those numbers ?

The $105 million prod. budget figure for PATF comes from Box Office Mojo. But someone else who claimed to have actually worked on the film posted above that the cost was closer to $70 million. That's a rather significant difference .

However, when a site like Box Office Mojo prints a budget figure are they including the promotional costs in that ? So in this case the production costs on PATF may have been $70 million, but then another $35 million was spent for advertising ?

Anonymous said..., BOMojo prints what the studios tell them were the production costs.
If you think Disney only spent 35 mill on marketing then you don't know much about marketing. I can almost guarantee you they spent at least as much as their production costs - if not more - to advertise that sucker.

You can justify long term revenue as being the reason why a film wil eventually make it's money, but that's all guesswork and not something you can really count on or declare until it happens. A film is either a hit ot a bomb based on it's initial theatrical run. You can claim victory if it sells well on DVD, but that comes later.
But if all they're interested in is DVD sales they would've made Frog a DTV release and not spent the money making at a theatrical release.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous says ...

", BOMojo prints what the studios tell them were the production costs.
If you think Disney only spent 35 mill on marketing then you don't know much about marketing. I can almost guarantee you they spent at least as much as their production costs - if not more - to advertise that sucker. "


LOL right back at you. But really, your comment is not in the least helpful or informative.

I didn't say I necessarily believed anything on Box Office Mojo or that I knew what the marketing costs on PATF are . That's why I was asking questions. (i.e. "Are they just guessing ? Should we not place any credibility in those numbers ? ")

Your answer seems to indicate that you believe Box Office Mojo is just guessing and we should not place any credibility in their numbers. They naively print whatever the studios tell them without researching the numbers. Ok . Got it.

So, the obvious questions now would be: who are you and why does what you write have any more credibility than what Box Office Mojo prints?

Please understand, I'm not trying to pick a fight with you , but simply asking for you to back up what you write. Maybe you're experienced in production management or a big-shot producer. Or maybe you're just like me and you don't really have a clue. Who knows? If you can demonstrate why sites like Box Office Mojo is full of crap on the numbers they print then I'd be interested to read about it. But simply writing a glib "Lol" comment and asserting that they don't have good information doesn't prove it.

Anonymous said...

In your frenzy to find the ulitmate truth you missed what I was laughing at...your question - not the fact that BOMojo prints what they're told. There is no way anyone (exfcept a deeply embedded studio accountant) will ever know what the real costs of any movie are. BOMojo has no choice but to use the information they're given. Why should they research any further - it won't do any good. If 105 million is what Disney is saying it cost to make whether high or low that is the number they (and everyone else) are going to use to decide whether Frog is a hit or a bomb.
My guess is, since Disney had a big stake in having this film appear to be a hit, thye kept their estimate conservatively low. Personally I don't see it on the screen, but there are a lot of ways to piss away money on a film - all the way from JL, et al's jet trips back and forth (and hotel stays, etc) to unnecessary overtime to shipping materials overseas (or opening an overseas pipeline) and trips to New Orleans to 'soak' up the atmosphere so they could ignore it in the film. Not to mention starting a 2D studio from the ground up (as has been mentioned before).

My guess is if the producers or directors thought they were spending about 70 million then that's probably closer to what is up on the screen (though I doubt even that much made it to the screen), but they probably weren't privy to a lot of the hidden costs like some of the ones I already suggested (and a thousand more).

As to who I am? I prefer to remain anonymous unlike idiots like Arlo and Rufus...this way I can offend or defend who I want without impunity ;) Actually it doesn't matter who I am or who anyone on this blog is. Why should my statements be considered any more truthful or wrong because of who i am?
I don't believe Arlo because he uses his name and I don't believe someone who claims they know what Walt Disney would say and do because he uses his name anymore than anyone else would.

And you can also consider me a jerk without ever having to be worried we'll ever come face to face...

Woe unto us the End of the World as we know it said...

Don"t Drink Disney's Kool-Aid

to Anon 4:44 said...

That's WITH impunity, not "without" impunity, genius.

Anonymous said...

Oh, thank goodness the grammar police are around!!!

Did you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in any of the posts here? Please show us your superiority by pointing all of them out for us illiterates.

My hero!

rufus said...

My name is not rufus, you idiot.

I use that name to try to aleviate the confusion from so many "anonymous" posters.


Anonymous said...

Yeah! His real name is Doofus.

You say Rufus- I say Doofus- let's call the whole thing off said...

We're all Bozos on this bus.

Steve Hulett said...

It's an open secret that studios routinely cook the books regarding movies' production costs.

But it's worse than that. Every old studio hand knows that if you open a production charge number, different studio departments start using it.

And they use it for things that have no direct connection to the production.

This happens everywhere, to a greater or lesser degree. And has since movie studios started.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the actual source of BOMojos budget numbers?

Press release? Annual report?

Or do studios have a staff member who reports directly to BOMojo? I wonder how much they get paid.

Heck, if they're going to make up a number, why not just say 10 bucks! That oughta drive up stock price.

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