Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Grinch's B.O.

Illumination Entertainment scored a #1 with its new iteration of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas while Warner Bros's Smallfoot quietly left the Top Ten.


1) The Grinch -- 4,141 -- $66M -- $66M (1st weekend)

2) Bohemian Rhapsody -- 3,766 -- $30.8M (-40%) -- $100M

3) Overlord -- 2,859 -- $10.1M -- $10.1M (1st weekend)

4) The Nutcracker -- 3,766 -- $9.5M (-53%) -- $35.2M

5) A Star Is Born -- 2,848 (-583) -- $8M (-27%) -- $178M

5) ….Spider’s Web -- 2,929 -- $8M -- $8M (1st weekend)

7) Nobody’s Fool -- 2,468 -- $6.5M (-53%) --$24.2M

8) Venom -- 2,351 (-716) -- $4.8M (-38%) -- $206.2M

9) Halloween -- 2,717 (-1,058) -- $3.8M (-65%) -- $156.8M

10) Hate You Give -- 1,108 (-399) -- $2M (-38%) --$26.7M

The recently-departed Smallfoot now perches at #11, with a domestic total of $80,306,553 and $203,906,553 globally.

Incredibles 2, despite moving to other platforms on your home viewing devices, remains in 140 theaters. The pic collected $144,000 over the weekend, and now has a domestic total of $608,297,459 (worldwide the gross is $1,238,553,699).

Lsstly, the animation hybrid Disney's Christopher Robin remains in 132 theaters, picked up some small change, and now stands at $99,118,784 in domestic grosses. Globally, the take is almost evenly split between the U.S./Canada and everywhere else; world total is $196,116,581.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Ever-Changing Cartoon Biz

Now with healthful, gluten-free Add On (see below).

Ed Catmull retires next month. John Lasseter is looking to make a comeback in Cartoonland (at a studio not named Disney). Animation, in ways similar to live-aCtion, has become a roiling sea.

Companies are beset by mergers, or #MeToo scandals. Studios are wedded to big ambitions, or shackled to past successes.

And internal questions are only the start. Leaders such as Disney and Pixar are trying to maintain dominance over the field, while close competitors like Illumination are closing in. Once-great studios such as DreamWorks are struggling to find their way back. And well-funded upstarts from Sony to Netflix are seeking to knock them all off.

“We are witnessing fundamental change right before our eyes,” said Dan Sarto, editor at the industry-watching Animation World Network and a close observer of the category. “It’s totally unprecedented. Everything is subject to disruption.” ...

A big reason animation is in flux is, it isn't a sleepy little corner of the movie business anymore. (Truth be told, it hasn't been small or sleepy for years.) Every entertainment conglomerate produces and releases animated features. Every conglomerate produces and distributes TV cartoons. Netflix and Amazon, to upstart pretenders to the Hollywood throne, produce animation because the formate draws LOTS of eyeballs. And well-watched content is the ane of the game.

Standard rule of thumb: the higher the stakes, the more vicious the in-fighting. That's why there is more back-stabbing and maneuvering at higher levels than there ever was before. That's why fewer big-shots talk to the mainstream media. (Kindly note that highly-placed animation execs delivered quotes to the Washington Post story directly above. They have more to lose than gain from press accessibility.)

Yes, the industry is going through Big Change, but it has gone through change and upheaval before. (Television, labor strife, cable networks, etc.) The difference now is the profits are far bigger and the stakes far higher. Internal turmoil is one thing when cartoons are a sleepy sideshow, quite another when the money is big and the competition fierce. The business is not just Disney, Hanna-Barbera, and a few small upstart studios anymore. Now it's seven hungry corporations with very long knives.

Add On: But, of course, it isn't just the animation biz in turmoil. The wider live-action industry is also going through painful change, as one of our major metroploitan dailies details here.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Merry Times at Walt's Place

The House of Mouse (otherwise known as the Walt Disney Company) had a very good quarter...

... The company reported adjusted per-share earnings of $1.48, topping analysts forecasts of $1.34 for the fiscal fourth quarter. It booked record revenues of $14.3 billion, exceeding Wall Street’s projections of $13.73 billion.

The film studio’s revenue jumped 50% in the quarter to $2.2 billion, buoyed by the box office success of Incredibles 2, which rang in more than $1.2 billion globally, and Ant-Man and the Wasp, at $622 million in worldwide ticket sales.

The media networks group, which includes broadcast and cable television, saw revenues rise 9% to nearly $6 billion in the quarter ending September 29. ...

Disney will complete its integration (digestion?) of Fox assets early in the new year. The Mouse's new streaming services will shortly be up and running. How well will Diz Co. complete against Netflix and Amazon? Should be interesting to find out.

In the meanwhile, most of its subsidiaries are ticking along, contributing to the bottom line. And Disney stockholders will no dout be hoping that Chairman Robert Iger stays beyond his current employment contract, even though he's getting a bit long in the tooth.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Bohemian Box Office

Rock-and-roll rules the turnstiles as Warner's animated feature makes ready to leave the Top Ten, and make way for Illumination Entertainment's Grinch.


1) Bohemian Rhapsody -- 4,000 -- $48.9M -- $48.9M (1st weekend)

2) Nutcracker… -- 3,766 -- $20.2M -- $20.2M (1st weekend)

3) Nobody’s Fool -- 2,468 -- $13.8M -- $13.8M (1st weekend)

4) Halloween -- 3,775 (-215) -- $11.1M (-65%) -- $150.4M

5) A Star Is Born -- 3,431 (-473) -- $10.7M (-24%) -- $165.2M

6) Venom -- 3,067 (-500) -- $7.5M (-30%) -- $198.3M

7) Hunter Killer -- 2,720 -- $4.1M (-37%) -- $13.6M

8) Goosebumps 2 -- 2,828 (-895) -- $3.6M (-50%) -- $44M

9) The Hate U Give -- 1,507 (-868) -- $3.5M (-31%) -- $23.5M

10) Smallfoot -- 2,002 (-660) -- $3.1M (-35%) -- $76.7M

Smallfoot has now made $192,684,301 around the world. Not one of Warner Bros. larger hits, but since it's still playing off in lots of market and cost less than $100 million, (it was made in Canada at Sony Picture Imageworks Vancouver studio), it might eke out a profit by the time all cash streams are exhausted.

Incredibles 2 remains in 150 theaters domestically and has taken in $608,113,568 domestically. Worldwide Brad Bird's feature has taken in $1,238,213,568, good enough for #15 on the all-time grossers list.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Mickey! Merchandise!!

The rodent in the red shorts (there on the left with two other corporate mascots) turns ninety.

... Disney is using Mickey’s 90th birthday as a monstrous marketing moment, with the company’s cross-promotional machine revved up to what may be its highest level yet. Every corner of the $168 billion company is contributing to the campaign, which will intensify on Sunday when ABC runs “Mickey’s 90th Spectacular.” ...

By the early 1930s, Mickey was a merchandising machine. Look at early studio photographs, there is Mickey. He became a doll, became a watch, became a comic strip. The company was raking a $100 million in royalties on the Mouse by the second decade of its corporate existence.

As American copyright goes, Mickey frolicks into the public domain five years hence. Look for the Walt Disney Company to extend copyright AGAIN before the clock runs out. There is GOLD in that rodent with the bright red shorts.

Second Tier Product Reaches For Top Rung

Spain and South America combine forces on an animated feature they want to take worldwide:

Argentinian firms FilmSharks and Vista Sur, Peru’s Golem and Zentropa’s Spain-based animation arm Doce are launching the animated film Dalia Y El Libro Rojo 3D (Dalia and the Red Book 3D) at the American Film Market.

According to the producers, this is among the first Spanish-language animations to combine CGI characters, stop motion and classic 2D animation. Production is underway. ...

Few Americans notice, but there is a lively foreign market for lower budget animated features, most of which don't get any kind of meaningful release in the U.S. of A.

They come out of Europe.

They come out of South America.

Some come from Africa, the Middle East, and India.

The majority of these flicks make $15 million, $25 million, sometimes $60 million at the global box office. Those kinds of grosses would be disastrous for Pixar, Disney, or DreamWorks Animation, but they're fine for pictures coming in at $8 or $10 million. They're made on a shoe-string but when the features find an audience (and some of them do), they turn a nice profit. (Nothing that Robert Iger would fid comforting, but quite handsome for a small Spanish or Argentine studio.)

Will Dalia and the Red Book find favor in the United States and Canada? Probably not, but a domestic launch might help its prospects elsewhere.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Disney Keeps ON Monetizing Its Expanding Animation Empire

The Mouse, currently digesting most of the company formerly known as 20th Century Fox (which goes back to 1935 when Fox and 2oth Century studios merged) is making sure that every corner of its cartoon empire is making money:

Hulu has locked down streaming rights to a host of animated series, including new addition King of the Hill.

All 13 seasons of the Fox series from Mike Judge, which ran from 1997-20 are available to stream on the service as of Thursday. Hulu has also acquired exclusive streaming rights to Bob's Burgers, Family Guy, Futurama, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. ...

All of the series in the new deal are produced by 20th Century Fox TV, which is in the process of being absorbed by Disney. The latter will also be the majority owner of Hulu when the deal closes. ...

More than 10 new animated series have debuted in 2018 thus far, and Netflix and CBS TV Studios are each starting in-house animation arms. Though Hulu doesn't release viewing data for individual shows, the company has said animated shows are among the most-streamed content on the service: Viewers watch nearly 20 hours of animation on Hulu per month.

If you're keeping track at home, Disney will be the majority owner of the streaming service Hulu, even as it launches a Disney-branded streaming service for Disney-branded animated product.

The Mouse is keeping all streaming bets covered, the better to fight Netflix, Amazon, and other upstarts. Animation, as always, is a major component of its plans.