Friday, June 30, 2017


Any time an industry artist prevails over an industry wage fixer, is okay with me:

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, organizers of the Oscars, announced the election results for its Board of Governors late-Thursday afternoon, and veteran animator Tom Sito emerged victorious as the winner of a seat on the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch.

Sito was one of four candidates running for the animation branch’s Board of Governors; the other three were Darlie Brewster, Bob Kurtz, and Ed Catmull. ...

Dr. Catmull was a late entry to the race, and technically not eligible for the board prior to some heavy lobbying from execs at Disney. (Leverage has its uses).

It's not that Dr. Catmull isn't a talented and intelligent man, because he is. It's that when you've been involved with suppressing the wages of artists working in the industry, you (maybe?) forfeit the right to sit on a board that influences the awards given to those artists.

My thought, anyway.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Indie Features!!

What with animation being a hot a commodity, it's not hard to see why a distributor would scoop up two CG comedy features when the opportunity arose.

Smith Global Media ... has acquired distribution rights to the animated family features Charming and Gnome Alone. Both hail from Shrek producer John H. Williams and are financed and produced by 3QU Media. ...

Smith Global Media plans a late 2017 theatrical bow for Gnome Alone and a Q2 2018 release for Charming. Smith said the dual acquisition “enhances our company’s position in the marketplace and illustrates our desire to be the home for the most acclaimed independent films worldwide.” ...

I guess we'll see how acclaimed these two pups are, after they get released.

Gnome Alone (not to be confused with the horror movie of the same name) and Charming are two of four features set up by 3QU Media, set up by Shrek producer John Williams back in '14. One is in the can and the other near completion. No idea what the status of the other two might be.

These two pictures are produced by 3QU Media and created at Cinesite in Montreal, where the Free Money tumbles down like flakes of December snow. Both features have budgets of under $20 million, but that's probably after the government kickbacks. (At this price range, the pictures should be in profits quickly if they get any kind of commercial traction at all. There are a lot of markets outside the U.S. where lower budget CG features play well).

Gnome Alone is described as an action comedy. As for Charming, writer-director Ross Venokur, who's been in the animated features biz a while, describes it thusly:

... I have spent years and years reading [my three daughters] bedtime stories. Somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that, “Hey, Cinderella marries Prince Charming, and Sleeping Beauty marries Prince Charming, and Snow White marries Prince Charming… It’s the same dude!” And the story grew out of there. ...

So that's the story. Now, if the production values for Charming and Gnome Alone aren't too awful,there could be coin to be made.

Monday, June 26, 2017

A Brief History of "The Fox and the Hound"

I always thought The Fox and the Hound could have been darker and grittier than it turned out to be. But if it had been those things, maybe it would have made less money.

Whatever else TFATH was, among its distinctions are ...

Being Frank Thomas's, Ollie Johnston's and Woolie Reitherman's last Disney feature.

Being the FIRST Disney feature of Brad Bird, Chris Buck, Tim Burton, Ron Clements, John Lasseter, John Musker, Jerry Reese, and others I'm no doubt leaving out.

Multiple development and production hiccups. Brad Bird got fired. Woolie got pushed to the side by upper management. Don Bluth took a large chunk of staff and went off to make his own animated movie(s).

The feature was made in the midst of generational change at the House of Mouse. Staff that had been working for Walt Disney Productions since the 1930s was retiring, and a lot of twenty-somethings who would be Movers and Shakers in Cartoonland for the next thirty-plus years were getting their starts.

p>The Fox and the Hound could have been better. But it could have been one hell of a lot worse, too.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Late June Box Office

Two cartoons remain in the Big List, along with a sprinkling of half-cartoons (Transformers, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc).


1). Transformers: The Last Knight (PAR), 4,069 theaters / $15.65M Wed. (includes Tuesday preview of $5.5M) / $8.1M Thurs. / $13.7M Fri. / 3-day cume: $40.1M / Total cume: $63.9M / Wk 1

2). Wonder Woman (WB), 3,933 theaters (-85) / $7.3M Fri. / 3-day cume: $26.1M / Total: $319.4M / Wk 4

3). Cars 3 (DIS), 4.256 theaters (o) / $7.65m Fri. / 3-day cume: $25.6M (-52%) / Total: $100.3M+ / Wk 2

4.). 47 Meters Down (ENT), 2,471 theaters (+201) / $2.2M Fri. / 3-day cume: $6.9M (-38%) / Total: $23.7M / Wk 2

5.). All Eyez On Me (LGF), 2,471 theaters (0) / $1.89M Fri. / 3-day cume: $5.88M (-78%) / Total: $38.7M / Wk 2

6.). The Mummy (Uni), 2,980 theaters (-827) / $1.7M Fri. / 3-day cume: $5.8M / Total: $68.5M / Wk 3

7.). Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (DIS), 2,453 theaters (-68) / $1.6M Fri. / 3-day cume: $5.4M / Total: $160.1M / Wk 5

8./9). Captain Underpants (DWA/20TH), 2,328 theaters (-44) / $1.46M Fri. / 3-day cume: $4.8M / Total: $66.3M / Wk 4

Rough Night (SONY), 3,162 theaters (0) / $1.58M Fri. / 3-day cume: $4.8M (-40%) / Total: $16.7M / Wk 2

10). Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (DIS), 1,468 theaters (-72) / $876KFri. / 3-day cume: $3M / Total: $380.2M / Wk 8

Cars 3 is running at a bit more of half the pace of Cars 2's 2011 release. At present, foreign grosses are 29% of the world wide total. The feature has taken in $141,282,893 around the globe. (Cars 2's total at the end of its full release was $562,110,557, not one of Pixar's high grossers. But hey. It's about the merchandise.

Captain Underpants now has a worldwide gross of $71,946,630, with only 8.6% ($6,203,454) from overseas. If the big infant bumps up against a $100 million domestic gross, it'll have to hold a lot better than it's holding now.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Rick, Morty and the Slows

So Dan Harmon, co-creator of Rick and Morty, explains Rick and Morty's Season Three hiccups:

... Justin [Roiland] and I are very regretful about the season taking way too long. I want to explain "what happened" because it's way less dramatic than you might ever imagine. Post internet TV audiences are so used to finding out there's an intriguing/confusing/intense reason 4 delays. And Christ knows if you've ever seen MY name on the internet I've only got myself to blame for an association with intrigue/confusion/drama.

But the truth in this case is so very boring. I will put it to you as objectively as I can, though we aren't talking about an auto plant. The reason S3 took long is because it took long to write, because it was S3 of a show that we were scared to make worse than S2 or S1. It's a common yet odd phenomenon. Tail-chasing, perfectionism, overthinking? One prob is that any description you pick for it is going to have a falseness. If I say "we overthought" someone else could say "well, no, we thought the right amount," it's like talking About religion or something. It feels I think, to writers, sacreligious and ineffective to open the creative process and poke and label.

But don't worry about the content, because, the reason overthought slows you down is, you just do way more versions of stuff than needed. You usually end up back where you started. So as far as I can tell, although I'm too close to it, it's just another good season of RAM. That took way too fucking long to write because it just seems like the same stuff that took way less time to write. That's it. Boring answer.

As I speak, more articles are coming out about me and Justin fighting. Because it's a less boring reason for a season to take long, and because I'm Dan Harmon, so it's a smart fucking first guess, it just happens to be hilariously not true even in the slightest. If you do know of me at all you know that if Justin and I HAD ever fought, not only wouldn't we be able to keep it secret, we'd be all too eager to share it with you. ...

Thing about making cartoons, sometimes they take way longer to create than you would guess (or hope). False starts. Potential story arcs that dead-end. Writer's block. Stuff happens. What's important (in the end) is that the shows are being made and people are working.

Happily, this is one of the Adult Swim shows that's union.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Despicable Moi" Vs."Cars"

So it appears that another long-form cartoon might dethrone Pixar's latest offering.

... Illumination Entertainment’s “Despicable 3” opens June 30; ... early estimates suggest it’s the Minions that will rule the world. And if that’s the case, Universal could become the most successful animation distributor in domestic box office.

Disney still holds sway on a global basis; over the last five years, Disney-distributed animation has grossed just over $5 billion to Universal’s $3.35 billion. However, as a producer Illumination’s box office is bigger than either Disney or Pixar, domestic and foreign, and with this latest round it could become more successful than both entities combined at the domestic box office. ...

Chris Meledandri started in live-action at Disney, working at Dawn Steel's company. He moved on to Fox Animation, where he oversaw multiple failures from Fox's Phoenix studio before hitting his stride at Blue Sky Animation and then his own company, Illumination Entertainment.

Meledandri was the first animation producer who oversaw a successful animated feature that was created overseas. Prior to Meledandri, a succession of studios had offshored feature animation and fallen on their corporate faces. Even so, Illumination isn't using a low-rent studio in a Third World nation, but making its movies in Paris, France. Though the company receives Free Money from the French government, the IE pictures are not inexpensive. They're just less expensive than much of the competition.

And while the grosses of the Despicable Me series have gone continually up, the three Cars epics have done the reverse.

H/t to Justin Hunt.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


It appears that two feature animation directors who have been helming a high-profile, big-budget space epic will not be bringing the project into the landing dock.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are no longer directing the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off.

"Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon," said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm in a statement. ...

Chris and Phil have a long history in animation. They brought the Sony feature Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs back from the dead. They launched the LEGO franchise at Warner Bros (the Warner Animation Group, specifically). They have been involved with live action shows and movies for years, and they have deals everywhere.

Since February, they have been in London shooting the Han Solo picture for Lucasfilm, and there are only weeks to go before the picture wraps. It would be nice to know what caused their exit. Was it the dailies (too comedic and light-hearted?). Was it their vision for the overall film? Did Kathleen Kennedy dislike the baked goods they brought in for the crew each morning? What??

Mopefully one day we'll find out, but it might not be soon. Everybody likes to be well-mannered where Diz Co. is concerned. Why do something to damage a career that's rolling along nicely, especially if you don't need to?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Your Summertime Box Office

Diz Co./Pixar's latest animated opus opens (as per usual) at #1:


1.). Cars 3 (DIS), 4.256 theaters / $19.6M Fri. (includes $2.8M previews) /3-day cume: $51.8M/Wk 1

2.). Wonder Woman (WB), 4,018 theaters (-147)/ $10.8M Fri./3-day cume: $40M (-32%)/Total:$273.8M/ Wk 3

3.). All Eyez On Me (LG), 2,471 theaters / $12.8M Fri. (includes $3.1M) /3-day cume: $31.2M/Wk 1

4.). The Mummy (Uni), 4.034 theaters (-1) / $3.8M Fri. (-68%) /3-day cume: $13.5M (-57%)/Total: $56.1M/Wk 2

5.). 47 Meters Down (ENT), 2,270 theaters / $4.3M Fri. (includes $735k) /3-day cume: $10.7M/Wk 1

6.). Rough Night (SONY), 3,162 theaters / $3.3M Fri. (includes $700k) /3-day cume: $8.7M/Wk 1

7.). Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (DIS), 2,759 theaters (-920)/ $2.3M Fri./3-day cume: $8.5M (-21%)/Total:$150.1M/ Wk 4

8.). Captain Underpants (DWA/20TH), 2,968 theaters (-561)/ $2.1M Fri. (-40%) /3-day cume: $7.3M (-40%)/Total: $57.9M/Wk 3

9.). Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (DIS), 1,813 theaters (-1,098) / $1.2M Fri. (-27%)/3-day cume: $4.8M (-23%)/Total:$374.7m/ Wk 7

10.). It Comes at Night (A24), 2,450 theaters (-83) / $822K Fri (-67%) /3-day cume: $2.45M (-59%) /Total:$10.8M/ Total: Wk 2

There are two animated pics situated in the Big Ten. Cars 3, though on top, had the lowest opening of any Cars movie, but Disney isn't focused on that. Diz Co. is focused on this:

... Cars 3 is about Disney continually maintaining a big pic series and its ancillaries, in this case one which is fully propped by $10 billion-plus in global merchandising sales. It’s essential for them to keep playing Cars to each new generation of kids. ...

Therefore, expect a Cars 4 and Cars 5 in the world's future. The quest to sell more inflatable cars, small metal cars, and battery-powered cars will go on unabated.

Meanwhile, Captain Underpants has now collected $58 million, which is far below DWA's recent Boss Baby, but then UC cost far less. Boss Baby ended its worldwide box office run aat a smidge under $500 million. To date, Captain Underpants has earned $60.6 million, and doesn't look as though it will come close the BB's performance. It will likely, nowever, earn a bit of money.

Lastly, super hero movies continue to prosper Pirate movies featuring Jack Sparrow? Somewhat less so.

Stephen Furst, RIP

Voice actor Stephen Furst, died on Friday:

Stephen Furst, best known for his performances as the hapless Flounder in Animal House and put-upon rookie doc Eliott Axelrod on St. Elsewhere, died Friday at his home in Moorpark, California, near Los Angeles, due to complications from diabetes. ...

Besides his long list of live-action credits, Mr. Furst also limned voices for Disney's Jungle Cubs, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and various others. Most of his voice work was for Disney.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Minimal Alibi

It's not every day you hear a studio exec admit error, but there's this from Ms. Kristine Belson (of Sony Animation) regarding Smurfs: The Lost Village:

"It tanked. It was truly heartbreaking. In retrospect we had the wrong date … Honestly, we underestimated what a big hit Boss Baby would be." ...

Also too, over-estimated the desire of theater-goers to rush out and watch another Smurfs movie. But that's the way the biz goes. When an audience doesn't want to show up for your movie, you can't stop them. (I'm not sure the "crowded out of the marketplace by Boss Baby" excuse tells the whole story).

Ms. Belson also notes that it took Sony some doing to lure Genndy Tartakovsky back into the fold for a third installment of Hotel Transylvania. (Genndy was splitting time between Sony and Cartoon Network, but is now -- so far as I know -- fully ensconced at Sony Animation.) HT is one of the few productive franchises Sony has, so it's wise to have him back making the third film.

The Next #1

Except it's really about the toys, friends and neighbors!

Diz Co. appears to have another strong opening on its immediate horizon:

Cars 3 is projected to gross $55 million or more in its North American debut this weekend, enough to finish No. 1 and beat blockbuster Wonder Woman, now in its third weekend.

The first two Cars films together have earned north of $1 billion at the global box office — in addition to spawning a merchandising bonanza for Disney and Pixar. ...

If you look at the Cars franchise from a box office angle, the features are dim stars in the Pixar movie universe. Out of 17 releases, Cars Uno sits at #10, grossing a mild $244,082,982 in the U.S. and Canada.

Cars 2 idles at #16, just above The Good Dinosaur. Its domestic box office was $191,452,396.

But for this particular franchise, box office grosses are beside the point. Disney sells tons of Cars merchandise, so if the pictures don't rocket into high orbit, well, the Mouse still has enough toys flying off shelves to keep regiments of corporate accountants busy counting the cash.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Annecy Gets Bigger

... and bigger again.

... France’s thriving Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival, a Mecca for animation companies and creatives from Hollywood and the world over, which just doesn’t stop growing.

In just one sign, its International Animation Film Market (MIFA) will add an extra day, kicking in June 13 and moving from three to four days. MIFA accredited delegate numbers were tracking at 2,900 by last Friday, already up on the final 2016 tally go 2,850. ... Driven by the increase in animation output in most parts of the world, including Africa, ... delegate numbers have now grown 13 years in a row, since 2005, casting MIFA as a metaphor for the international animation scene at large and one of the most robustly-growing industry events in Europe. ...

The thing of it is, animation thrives around the globe. We Americans get the big theatrical blockbusters from U.S. and Canadian studios, but there is a plethora of CG and traditional features, created on much smaller budgets than those of the Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks persuasions, that get made at various geographic locations on the globe.

Those features circulate through South America, Africa, Europe, Russia and Asia, and many of them turn tidy profits. (You'll see them here on the internet or smaller cable systems, usually re-dubbed into English.) Then there's ever-expanding television content, animation for Subscription Video on Demand, etc., etc.

So it's not surprising that Annecy is growing. Animation continues to thrive. It's not the small side show it used to be, back in the quaint days of pencils and paper.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Your American Box Office

Captain Underpants ticks along at a much lower altitude than the recent Boss Baby while The Mummy turns out not to be the blockbuster Comcast was hoping for.


1.). Wonder Woman (WB), 4,165 theaters / $15.8M Fri. (-59%)/3-day cume: $52.8M (-49%)/Total:$200.6M/ Wk 2

2.). The Mummy (Uni), 4.035 theaters / $12M Fri. (includes $2.66M) /3-day cume: $30.5M/Wk 1

3.). Captain Underpants (DWA/20TH), 3,529 theaters (+95)/ $3.5M Fri. (-56%) /3-day cume: $12.6M (-47%)/Total: $44.1M/Wk 2

4.). Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (DIS), 3,679 theaters (-597) / $2.97 M Fri. (-53%)/3-day cume: $10.4M (-53%)/Total:$135.5M/ Wk 3

5.). It Comes at Night (A24), 2,533 theaters / $2.4M Fri. (includes $700 previews) /3-day cume: $6.2M/Total: Wk 1

6.). Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (DIS), 2,911 theaters (-596) / $1.68M Fri. (-37%)/3-day cume: $6.05M (-39%)/Total:$366.2m/ Wk 6

7.). Baywatch (FOX), 2,832 theaters (-815) / $1.3M Fri.(-50%)/ 3-day cume: $4.2M (-52%)/Total:$50.6M/ Wk 3

8.). Megan Leavey (BST), 1,956 theaters / $1.2M Fri /3-day cume: $3.8M / Wk 1

9.). Alien: Covenant (FOX), 1,814 theaters (-846) / $479k Fri. (-58%) /3-day cume: $1.6M (-61%)/Total: $71M/Wk 4

10.). Everything, Everything (WB/MGM), 1,546 theaters (-829) / $527K Fri. (-51%)/3-day cume: $1.59M (-52%) /Total:$31.6M/ Wk 4 ...

Meanwhile in the Disney division: Pirates of the Caribbean does middling business (bigger grosses overseas), Guardians conintues to hold nicely and edges toward a $400 million domestic gross, and America waits breathlessly for the release of Cars 3.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Features Across the Atlantic

CG features get made in Europe too, y'know.

German mini-major Constantin Film has begun production on the animated feature Dragon Rider, based on the best-selling fantasy novel by author Cornelia Funke (Inkheart).

Johnny Smith, one of the screenwriters on Disney's 2011 hit Gnomeo & Juliet, adapted Funke's novel for the screen, with award-winner German shorts animator Tomer Eshed directing in what will be his feature debut. ...

Constanin is partnering with Cyborn, a Belgian animation studio with other movies in production and development. Cynorn announced Dragon Rider at Cannes last month. The feature is slated to hit theaters the summer of 2019. I've got no idea what the budget of this epic is, but Cyborn is doing another CG feature with a budget of $12.5 million ($14,000,000 Euros) split between two producing studios.

There are a raft of second and third-tier animated features produced around the world, and many of them do well in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, though audiences in the U.S. and Canada seldom see them in any major way. (These specimens would get English dubs from a distributor and show up on cable and/or the internet). Dragon Rider will likely fall into that category and have a similar size budget.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


As sometimes happens when a wildly successful movie hits the big screen, cries of "Theft!" fill the stagnant courtroom air.

Esplanade Pictures sued Disney in March, claiming its film copied the work of Total Recall writer Gary L. Goldman, who had pitched his Zootopia franchise idea to the animation powerhouse in 2000 and 2009. In May, Disney filed a motion to dismiss, telling the court there isn't enough evidence of substantial similarity between the works for the complaint to proceed and arguing that this is the latest in "a long history of plaintiffs coming out of the woodwork after a motion picture has achieved critical and financial success to claim credit — and proceeds — where none is due." ...

[Esplanade attorney Gary] Gans acknowledges there are differences between the two Zootopia films, but argues that just because some of the elements aren't infringing doesn't mean the work as a whole also isn't. In Goldman's story, a live-action human animator creates a "cartoon world of animated anthropomorphic animals called 'Zootopia'" — and, while Disney's film includes no live-action elements, Esplanade claims it copies characters, dialogue, artwork, plot points and themes. ...

Plagiarism and copyright infringement lawsuits are notoriously difficult to make stick against well-funded entertainment conglomerates. And this is, after all, Zootopia -- a property filled with talking animals in clothes, the types of characters the Mouse has done more than a few times before.

But sometimes plaintiffs win. A quarter century ago, Art Buchwald sued Paramount for swiping his treatment and story ideas for Coming To America starring Eddie Murphy. buchwald was in a position to prove that Paramount had indeed seen, optioned and put into his development his idea of a black African King coming to America and learning what hard times are like long before the film came out.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, a Paramount exec at the time of the movie's development, was called to testify and had a major case of amnesia on the stand. He didn't remember much of anything about Buchwald's treatment, or what happened to the property when a movie (initially) failed to be made from it. (Jeffrey usually had a razor sharp memory, but I guess there are times when holes open up inside the old brain pan).

If the plaintiffs can prove that Disney saw/reviewed the treatment, then the plaintiffs might have the whisper of a chance to get somewhere. But otherwise not. The Mouse is well-guarded by expensive, highly trained lawyers.

Tino Insana, RIP

A long-time voice actor exits the building.

Tino Insana, the improv actor, writer and the voice of Uncle Ted in the Fox series Bobby’s World, died June 1 of cancer. He was 69.

His role in Bobby’s World launched a 25-year career as voice actor, with Insana lending his pipes to such animated kids programs as Spaceballs, Darkwing Duck, Bubble Guppies, Pepper Ann, Teacher’s Pet, Buzz Lightyear and Goof Troop. ...


Tino Insana also served as story editor for the comedy series Police Squad!", as well as writing two episodes of its one-season order. He also wrote and story-edited for Sledge Hammer, which appeared on network television four years after Police Squad! departed it.

And here's Mr. Insana narrating "Monsters University", the kids' book version:

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Your Star-Spangled Box Office

The totals that the trades give us:


1.). Wonder Woman (WB), 4,165 theaters / $38.7M Fri. (includes $11M previews)/3-day cume: $97.1M/Total: Wk 2

2.). Captain Underpants (DWA/20TH), 3,434 theaters / $8M Fri. (includes $650K previews) /3-day cume: $25.7M/Total: Wk 1

3.). Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (DIS), 4,276 theaters / $6.3M Fri. (-73%)/3-day cume: $21.3M (-66%)/Total:$114.3M/ Wk 2

4.). The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (DIS), 3,507 theaters (-364) / $2.6M Fri.(-51%) /3-day cume: $9.7M (-54%) / Total: $355.4M / Wk 5

5.). Baywatch (FOX), 3,647 theaters / $2.6M Fri.(-54%)/ 3-day cume: $8.5M (-54%)/Total:$41.3M/ Wk 2

6.). Alien: Covenant (FOX), 2,660 theaters (-1,112) / $1.1M Fri. (-61%) /3-day cume: $3.9M (-63%)/Total: $67.1M Wk 3

7.). Everything, Everything (WB/MGM), 2,375 theaters (-426) / $1M Fri. (-50%)//3-day cume: $3.1M (-48%) /Total:$28.1M/ Wk 3

8/9.). Snatched (FOX), 1,625 theaters (-1,033) / $385K Fri. (-65%) /3-day cume: $1.3M (-68%) / Total:$43.8 M / Wk 4

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (FOX), 2,088 theaters (-1,086) / $368K Fri. (-71%) / 3-day cume: $1.3M (-70%)/ Total: $17.9M/Wk 3

10.). King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (WB/VR), 1,222 theaters (-1,281)/ $322K Fri. (-64%) /3-day cume: $1.1M (-67%) /Total:$37.1M / Wk 4

Warners finally gets the super hero thing right and scores with WW.

Meantime, the DreamWorks Animation Canadian-produced Captain Underpants appears to be collecting $25.7 million in its opening frame. This contrasts with $50,198,902 that Boss Baby collected during its debut weekend. So maybe the Canadian gambit didn't pay off as well as management hoped. (Cheaper pictures that result in lower grosses don't help the bottom line).

ADD ON:The Reporter describes the newer business model of "Do It Cheap" ...

... Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie will be a bold experiment in a new studio model. THR has learned that the movie, which is based on the children's book series by Dav Pilkey and follows two fourth graders (voiced by Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch) who accidentally turn their mean school principal (Ed Helms) into a bumbling superhero, was made for just $38 million. ...

At $38 million, the pic will likely earn money, even with its tepid opening. (Of course, there's advertising and promotion costs; that pushes it past the $100 million mark). This is a business model that's been used before with mixed success. Foreign studios make animated features inexpensively and release them in Europe, Russia, and Latin America. The Weinstein Company has used the strategy, along with other lower tier companies. Sometimes it works and sometimes it's a bust.

Friday, June 2, 2017


Now that I'm retired from the Animation Guild and its accompanying 401(k) Plan, I've had time to dwell on how a retirement stash should be invested. What I've deduced is, you can tinker and twiddle with your 401(k) and IRAs, investing in individual stocks, real estate, and various types of bonds, but doing investments in a complicated and fancy way gives you many opportunities to louse things up, which ends up costing you money.

Here's the single most important thing to know about investing:

"Many studies have concluded that the major determinant (90%) of the overall rate of return earned by investors is not the particular bond or stock funds they buy, but rather the way they allocate their investment funds among the various asset classes." -- Random Walk Guide by professor Burton Malkiel.

The prof is talking about the percentage of equities (stocks) and the percentage of bonds that you own. Everything else, the small value stocks, the gold bullion, the investment in that central African diamond mine, probably won't buy you very much in the long run, because you'll likely dump most of those investments anyway when that particular sector of the market goes south. (And sooner or later, every part of the market goes south).

By keeping investments simple you avoid making mistakes, because temptations and distractions are removed from your line of vision.

Based on the above, here's the advice I give to sixty-somethings on the cusp of retirement who ask: Where should I put the cash sitting in my 401(k)s and IRAs?"

"Put 65% of your money in Vanguard's Target Retirement Income Mutual Fund.

Put 35% of your Money in Vanguard's Wellesley Mutual Fund.

That's it. Just those two funds. I like that mix because ...

They give you a broad swath of domestic and international stocks, leavened with Wellesley's concentrated investment in large American value stocks, and ...

They give you a wide assortment of international and domestic bonds. While the Target Retirement Income fund overweights government bonds, Wellesley chooses high-grade corporate issues, so there's a nice mix.

Added to which, the above is simple, easy to execute, and conservative -- 67% bonds, 32% stocks. The above is high quality and expertly managed. The above is extremely low-cost (about 13.5 basis points if you use Wellesley's Admiral shares; that's a .135% in expenses between the two. (Have a financial advisor at a brokerage house perform the same tasks less well, you're likely looking at costs ten times higher).

You can, obviously, change the percentage allotment of those two funds if it suits your needs (60%/40%, 50%/50%, etc.) But whatever percentages you use, you get the beauty of broad diversification, great management, and low costs. And you don't have to worry about where to put your retirement dollars.

* Kindly note that Hulett is not a registered financial advisor, just a dude with an opinion. And kindly note that Hulett uses a variation of the above himself.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Robert Iger Bails Out

Apparently, the last straw on the back of the camel caused Disney Chairman Bob Iger to exit the President's advisory body:

As a matter of principle, I've resigned from the President's Council over the #ParisAgreement withdrawal.

There's always some newsworthy event happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Mostly (always) they're not pretty. One gets numb to them after awhile. But it's nice that a Captain of Industry takes action, even if it's a wee bit belated.