Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Dream of Work

I walked away part of the afternoon at the DreamWorks campus, admiring the olive trees and fountains and waterfalls, but mostly talking to dreamworkers. Many are excited about Dragon, but some are wary of the overall awareness level for the feature reflected in stories like this:

... DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon," which is being distributed by Paramount Pictures, probably will sell between $40 million and $45 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada, according to people who have seen pre-release polling.

That's significantly less than the $59.3 million that DreamWorks' last animated feature, "Monsters vs. Aliens," opened to on the same weekend last year ...

The reason for that, per the pundits, is that Alice is still out there, along with Diary of a Wimpy Kid. (My prediction, based on nothing more than a feverish imagination, is that the movie hits in the $50-$60 million range. But I have a sterling record for being wrong.)

One artist, fretting about how it will do, said: "The word-of-mouth will be strong because Dragon is a great picture. So if it gets okay numbers Saturday and Sunday, we'll be fine, because those people will get the word out ..."

Meanwhile, the story crew on Croods has been deprived of Mr. Sanders's presence because he's busy on last-minute duties on How to Train Your Dragon.

"We're going ahead and working on the next pass of the picture. We've talked changes through already. We'll get newer script pages later when Chris has time to work on them ..."

I'll be catching Dragon this weekend. After all the positive buzz, I don't want to lolly gaggle around and wait for everyone else to give me blow-by-blows.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know how much it will make, but everyone I've talked to in the industry who has seen it tells me it is a VERY solid movie, and a real winner.

History is littered with box-office tracking predictions that were completely wrong. I have a feeling a lot of people are eager to see this thing. We'll see...

Anonymous said...

There does seem to be a strong vibe behind this movie, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing it this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I can't remember a better buzz than what Dragons is getting right now! I can't wait to see it again!

Anonymous said...

I'm expecting this to open less than Monsters but finish with more. Have you seen the glowing reviews on rottentomatoes so far? This will have great word of mouth.

Anonymous said...

DW's "leverage" worked, and Alice has been demoted back to 2-D at most plexes, so Dragons will have the one reserved 3-D screen at most venues....THIS week.
And, of course, that's assuming most audiences in the suburbs have heard of it by now.

(MvA had a lot of good old-fasioned soulless Dreamworks plugging, an easy to sell concept, and positive word of mouth even from dedicated DW-haters, but it doesn't always work with just any two ingredients out of three.)

animation programs said...

Nice Broadcast!! I am looking forward to seen at this weekend!!

Anonymous said...

Hope it does well. Titans is right behind it.

Justin said...

I'm a little concerned about the box office prospects for this film. This is getting great buzz around the industry and very well could be one of Dreamwork's best films ever, however I'm not getting a lot of buzz in the general public. Word of mouth may be great, but these days there are only a couple of movies which word of mouth really had a positive effect on (Avatar and The Blind Side). Most of the time you can predict within $10 million what the final box office will be based on the opening weekend.

Anonymous said...

I hope this movie does well. I saw it and like it very much, but the billboard advertising does not reflect the beauty of the images. Why does every DW movie poster take place against a bright blue sky with eye-popping colors?

Again, I really hope this movie is a huge hit as it deserves to be.

Anonymous said...

I keep hearing over and over again that only people in the animation industry have heard of this film, and that the general public is somewhat unaware that it is being released today.
I say that is a bunch of BUNK. I've spoken to people at Church, I've spoken to others through my children's schools, I've even spoken to people I associate with while exercising and they ALL have heard of it and they ALL are looking forward to seeing it WITH their kids who are excited for it as well.
I've seen it and its fantastic, and my kids loved it too. Hopefully the BO numbers ultimately will relfect how good the movie actually is.

Anonymous said...

The marketing on this film is not terribly impressive. The awareness is not out there. Time for terry press to go.

Anonymous said...

Word of mouth may be great, but these days there are only a couple of movies which word of mouth really had a positive effect on (Avatar and The Blind Side).

Keep in mind that there is no wide released animated feature out for two months. Meaning it has the animation seekers (i.e. parents) on lock down for two months by itself.

This has definite potential to shock a lot of people at the box office.

nosferatu said...

I hope this does well. Frankly,the trailer for "MvsA" did not inspired me to go see the film. The trailer for Dragons was a bit of an improvement. The vikings look great, I gotta say. I'm looking forward to cheking this out on the big screen...

Congrats to the DW peeps!

nos

Anonymous said...

Hope this film gets noticed. It looks cool even though there hasn't been as much in the way of a blitz of advertising. I am definitely planning on seeing it. In 2d to save the 5 bucks and to see it with all its artistic direction richness. Minus the darkening sunglasses effect...hate those.

Anonymous said...

It's definitely worth seeing in 3D as it was shot and planned and designed in stereo. It isn't a gimmick and is truly enhancing. And I was skeptical about it beforehand.

It's also one of the most beautifully designed films for CG ever made-if anyone can think of a better one thus far(after seeing it), let me know.

The story is sincere, the humor is funny, the score is terrific and the animation is excellent. Everyone who worked on it should be proud and if anyone out there cares about a great time at the movies, they should be seeing this real soon. Several times.

Anonymous said...

The 3D versions of a film are brightened precisely to make up for the dimming effect of the glasses. So there's no difference in brightness between 2D and 3D.

...unless you're sitting on the outer sides of the theater. :)

Go Dragon!!!

Anonymous said...

"It's also one of the most beautifully designed films for CG ever made"

Not as good as Ratatouille from a story and ESPECIALLY a design point of view. I'm not trying to turn this into a dw vs. pixar thing. But Ratatouille was just so refined. Sorry, that's the pinnacle all the way around.

But dragon is a good movie. I liked it, although all the screaming children in the audience were annoying.

Anonymous said...

Dragon is going to get 10x better reception from kids than Ratatouille ever did.

Anonymous said...

Ratatouille's story wasnt as good as Dragon, but thats subjective isnt it? I have several story complaints for Rat, but not for Dragon.

I will concede the design though. Rat's design is still the bar.

Anonymous said...

I hope you'e wrong about it not being as good as Ratatouille especially when it comes to story. Ratatouille was a mess in story - Brad did what he could but when you need 4 or 5 narrating devices to make a film work and a HUGE suspension of reality (controlling somoene by pulling their hair) in a realistic film you have big story issues.

I'm counting on that being YOUR taste and that Dragon holds together better story-wise (at least) than Ratatouille

Anonymous said...

i agree. 3D can not match the brightness of traditional projection even 300 billion dollar kooky cameron will tell you that.

its not terrible just not the same. granted they enhance it but having to wear dark glasses to see a movie can be annoying.

Anonymous said...

"Why does every DW movie poster take place against a bright blue sky with eye-popping colors?"


....Because Dreamworks Martketing has always, and will always Suck. The commercials are taking a brilliant looking film, and really making it come off schlocky and cheap. As long as Katzenburg still puts the advertising art in the hands of Boobs, instead of his talented in-house artists. WHY Jeffrey? WhY???

Anonymous said...

Ratatouille's story wasnt as good as Dragon, but thats subjective isnt it? I have several story complaints for Rat, but not for Dragon.

I was also getting a pretty strong Ratatouille vibe from the story--right down to the dad issues, the Achievement-Focused Crabby Girl, and Baruchel's Patton Oswalt imitation...
But Hiccup ISN'T Remy, which is one of the secret philosopher's-stones to Why DW Isn't Pixar: The best Pixar heroes have a misunderstood passion for what they do (usually from the director), that becomes infectious--I've been a cooking nut for years, and I couldn't explain to kids Why Cooking Is Cool better than Remy could do in five minutes.

Here, Chris & Dean don't QUITE get into our hero's head (which IMO was also a problem with Lilo & Stitch) far enough to let us know whether he has his own dream--As far as we can tell, his dream at the beginning is Not To Be Picked On. He's smart, but it never feels like there's some larger principle driving him to sweep our sympathy along for the ride.
(And while the kids giggled that Toothless "looked like Stitch", I felt like I was watching an animator-quirky Stitch, not 1000 years of misunderstood dragons.)

And it's the infectious-passion sweeping that gets us all personally Oscar-gooey for Pixar every year, no matter how cool, dynamic, or un-DW-ly visual you can get by borrowing someone else's directors.

Anonymous said...

You're WAY overanalyzing this.

Why don't you email Dean DeBlois and tell him your theories and critiques? Because it sounds like you know lots lots more than he does about what he wrote and why...er...right.


"Us", "we"-give me a break.

*I* say it's obvious you were prejudiced before you ever saw the film, so your opinion is fairly worthless.

Anonymous said...

And no one "borrowed" anyone from anywhere. What a putz you are, nobody.

And again I say: please-just close this bleeding board to these fools.

Anonymous said...

Well looks like it's going to be be a so-so 40mil opening so you can stop speculating now.

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