Saturday, September 30, 2017

Weekend Box Office

One animated feature rides the Big List, with a couple of other cartoon movies still circulating in a handful of theaters.


1/2/3) American Made (UNI), 3,024 theaters / $6.1M Fri. (includes $960K previews) 3-day cume: $16.55M /Wk 1

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (FOX), 4,038 theaters (+35) / $4.87M Fri. (-68%) 3-day cume: $16.5M (-58%)/Total: $66.2M/Wk 2

It (NL/WB), 3,917 theaters (-90) / $4.9M Fri. 3-day cume: $16.2M (-46%)/Total: $290.1M/Wk 4

4.) The Lego Ninjago Movie (WB), 4,047 theaters / $2.6M Fri. (-56%) /3-day cume: $11.6M (-43%)/Total: $35.1M/Wk 2

5.) Flatliners (SONY), 2,552 theaters / $2.1M Fri./ 3-day cume: $5.5M /Wk 1

6.) Battle of the Sexes (FSL), 1,213 theaters (+1,192) / $1.1M Fri. (+5918%) /3-day cume: $3.5M (+600%) /Total:$4M/Wk 2

7.) American Assassin (CBS/LG), 3,020 theaters (-134) / $935K Fri./3-day cume: $3.1M (-47%) /Total: $31.7M/Wk 3

8.) Home Again (OR), 2,370 theaters (-315) / $528K Fri. /3-day cume: $1.7M (-47%)/Total: $25.1M/Wk 4

9/10) mother! (PAR), 1,840 theaters (-528) / $437K Fri. 3-day cume: $1.36M (-59%)/Total: $16.2M/Wk 3

Til Death Due Us Part (IND), 550 theaters / $455k Fri./ 3-day cume: $1.3M /Wk 1

Cars 3 ($152,435,133 in domestic receipts so far) and Despicable Me 3 ($261,978,360 to date) continue to hang on by their fingernails, but their theatrical presences are now tiny.

The next top tier animated feature slated for release is Coco in November ...

... snd then Ferdinand in December.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hollywood Salaries

If you're a working stiff in the entertainment business, then according to the Reporter you'll pull down something like this:


Feature Director -- $20,000

Storyboard Artist* -- $2600-$2800

TV Staff Writer -- $4,000

Camera Operator -- $1833

Boom Operator -- $1800

And if you're in the Southern California animation industry, these are the median rates as of last year (a new wage survey is in process):


Feature Director -- $3500

TV Director -- $2400

Timing Director -- $2000

Feature Staff Writer -- $3100

TV Staff Writer -- $2200

B.G. Painter -- $1950

TV Production Board Artist -- $2047

Storyboard artist -- $2236

Comparing live-action wages to animation wages tends to be like comparing apples to apricots. Market rates and contract rates are all over the map, and highs and lows can take wild swings. There's also "New Media" to contend with. This tend to pull down mid-level figures.

* Not listed in the linked article, but based on what I know of the live-action contract under the Art Directors Guild

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Lacklustre Legos

So we've got the second movie in the Kingsman franchise at the top of the card deck, and the third iteration of the Lego series filling the third position.


1.) Kingsman: The Golden Circle (FOX), 4,003 theaters / $15.2m Fri. (includes $3.4m previews) /3-day cume: $39M /Wk 1

2.) It (NL/WB), 4,007 theaters (-141) / $9.1M Fri. /3-day cume: $29.1M (-52%)/Total: $265.4M/Wk 3

3.) The Lego Ninjago Movie (WB), 4,047 theaters / $5.8M Fri. /3-day cume: $20.8M /Wk 1

4.) American Assassin (CBS/LG), 3,154 theaters / $1.86m Fri. (-68%) /3-day cume: $6.2M (-58%) /Total: $26.1M/Wk 2

5.) Home Again (OR), 2,685 theaters (-351) / $1M Fri. (-38%) /3-day cume: $3.4M (-33%)/Total: $22.4M/Wk 3

6.) mother! (PAR), 2,368 theaters / $1M Fri. (-67%) /3-day cume: $3.25M (-57%)/Total: $13.4M/Wk 2

7/8). Hitman’s Bodyguard (LG), 2.037 theaters (-1,235) / $513K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.83M (-49%)/Total: $73.6M /Wk 6

Friend Request(ES), 2,569 theaters / $694K Fri. /3-day cume: $1.8M / Wk 1

9.) Stronger (RSA), 574 theaters/ $520K Fri./3-day cume: $1.58M /Wk 1

10.) Wind River (TWC), 1,431 theaters (-1,118) / $367K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.2M (-53%)/Total: $31.6M/Wk 8

The Lego franchise seems to be showing diminished returns. Perhaps you can only go to the well so many times without delivering something fresh and different?

... What made The Lego Movie so delightful was how it transcended its corporate roots and felt surprising. What made that film surprising makes this feel too familiar. Herein lies the downside of pulling off a seemingly impossible trick: once you perform the same trick enough times, the surprise of its success wears off. ...

The Lego Movie excelled at being different, and more off-kilter, than other animated films. The Lego Ninjago Movie feels not just like its predecessors, but other studios’ family fare. The last thing any of these movies should feel is watered down.

Meantime, The Emojoi Movie is down in the teens of the box office list, with $84.4 million in the kitty.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Apparently new mischief has occurred in Cartoonland.

... There is no way a phallic symbol should be able to make it into a kid’s cartoon series — but then came the Netflix original series Myah the Bee.

The show is an animated series based on a children’s book and it raised eyebrows in the past few days when a number of concerned parents spotted a penis drawing in one of the episodes. Despite Netflix removing the penis-bearing episode, receipts were kept as a number of parents took to social media to share their crude findings.

Dirty pictures have a long and storied tradition in the animation arts. I've been privileged to see dirty gag drawings of Virgil Partch and Ward Kimball from the long ago thirties and forties. I was able to freeze the frame of The Rescuers video and spy the Playboy playmate in the window of a New York skyscraper. I was the proud owner of a Little Mermaid VHS box with a palace tower shaped like an engorged male member.

In my (now completed) professional life, I oversaw a grievance against a large studio that accused a guild member of drawing breasts and penises into layout designs. The Animation Guild fought the good fight, but the company brought in three artists who testified that, yup, those curves and straight lines were indeed penises and breasts, because the artist himself had told them that's what they were.

(The guild lost the grievance.)

Add On: The producer of the penis Maya the Bee issues this heart-felt (but not really) apology:

“An absolutely inappropriate image has been discovered in a four-second fly-by scene in one episode of the total of 78 episodes of the series,” producer Studio 100 said in a statement released to media this morning. “The origin of this image obviously results from a very bad joke from one of the 150 artists working on the production.”

Come on, people! It was only ONE episode. Anybody can slip here and there. Netflix shouldn't hold this against Studio 100. Appropriate disciplinary measures will be taken, I'm sure.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Animated Box Office

There are multiple animated features in the marketplace (though some just barely), and several live-action/animated movies. Their domestic and worldwide totals as of yesterday:


Leap! (#8) -- $18,705,564 -- $102,615,533

Despicable Me 3 (#13) -- $261,094,650 -- $1,015,427,005

The Nut Job 2 (#18) -- $28,093,664 -- $38,978,799

Cars 3 (#26) -- $152,279,065 -- $357,326,296

Captain Underpants (#44) -- $73,814,428 -- $104,736,260

Boss Baby (#105) -- $174,979,567 -- $498,846,458


Spider-man: Homecoming (#39) -- $330,245,988 -- $861,245,988

War For The Planet Of The Apes (#21) -- $145,861,747 -- $431,967,715

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (#50) -- $389,804,217 -- $863,405,082

A scan of the list shows why super hero flicks and animated features keep getting made, and then made some more. Spider-Man and Guardians weigh in north of $800 million; Despicable Me 3 has grossed over a billion and Boxx Baby has made half a billion.

Cartoons and semi-cartoons have high profit margins, which is what our fine, entertainment conglomerates are seeking. They're not in the business of content creation as a philanthropic exercise, after all. (And this coming weekend, Warner Bros. will blast The LEGO Ninjago Movie into the marketplace. Nobody worries about animated features cannibalizing each other anymore. (That's so 2008. ...)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

European Union Cartoonage

The European continent is getting focused on how to keep its animation industries not only humming, but growing.

... A new and long-mooted E.U. Preferential Animation Support Plan ... identifies promotion, financing and retaining talent in Europe [as] some of the priorities for E.U. action.

It comes as Europe’s animation sector, viewed from the broadest of timelines, has certainly registered growth. 76 animated features were produced in Europe over 1984-1998, 361 over 1999-2013. European toon movies sold 20 million admissions during the first period, 220 million during the second. ... Animation sells better by far than other European film products, as the territorial sales reach of recent European hits. ...

Europe needs to encourage gifted European animators to return and open their own studios while there is still a “skills gap” in storytelling. ... The Plan added that European animation needs brand recognition, including investment in promotion. ...

Europe has a long history of creating animated shorts and features. France has been a hotbed of activity, as has Britain, as have some other countries. There is production done for the global market (think the Illumination Entertainment features from France) and animated effects for live-action that gets done in the United Kingdom (think the Disney remake of The Jungle Book and visual effects for various action-adventure and sci-fi pictures.

Britain and France offer government subsidies, which is why our fine entertainment conglomerates beat a path to their doors ... as they beat a path to Georgia, British Columbia, Ontario, etc. (The lure of Free Money is difficult to resist.)

Home-grown European features are less expensive than their U.S. counterparts, and (mostly) get exported to Mexico, South America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia where they earn steady money, but seldom gross amounts that are off the charts. Seldom do they get wide distribution in the U.S. of A., but because production costs are low, they make tidy profits. One home-grown example: Tad, the Lost Explorer (shown up top) was released in 2012. Costing 7-8 million Euros, it earned a world gross of 45 million Euros, successful enough to trigger a sequel. This would be chump change for an American animated feature, but bountiful for a lower-budget European specimen.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Domestic Box Office

There remains two animated feature in the Big Box Office Ten:


1.) It (NL/WB), 4,103 theaters / $51M Fri. (includes $13.5M previews) /3-day cume: $103M to $108M / Wk 1

2.) Home Again (OR), 2,940 theaters / $3.1m Fri. (includes $300k previews) /3-day cume: $8.6M / Wk 1

3.). Hitman’s Bodyguard (LG), 3,322 theaters (-48) / $1.37M Fri. / 3-day cume: $4.86M (-54%) / Total cume: $64.9M / Wk 4

4.). Annabelle: Creation (NL/WB), 3,003 theaters (-355) / $1.2M Fri. / 3-day cume: $3.8M (-49%) / Total cume: $96M / Wk 5

5.) Wind River (TWC), 2,890 theaters (+288) / $963K Fri. / 3-day cume: $3.3M (-47%) / Total cume: $25M / Wk 6

6.). Leap! (TWC), 2,691 theaters (-14)/ $545K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.5M (-48%) / Total cume: $15.9M / Wk 3

7.) Dunkirk (WB), 2,110 theaters (-642) / $542K Fri. / 3-day cume: $2M (-53%) / Total cume: $183.1M / Wk 8

8.) Spider-Man: Homecoming (SONY/MARVEL), 1,657 theaters (-379) / $515K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.9M (-47%) / Total cume: $327.6M / Wk 10

9.) Logan Lucky (BST), 2,167 theaters (-808) / $506K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.7M (-61%) / Total cume: $25.1M / Wk 4

10.). The Emoji Movie (SONY), 1,450 theaters (-658) / $197K Fri. / 3-day cume: $919K (-63%) / Total cume: $82.4M / Wk 7

Neither Leap nor The Emojoi Movie are setting turnstiles ablaze with their box office grosses. That honor would go to this cartoon:

Illumination/Universal’s Despicable Me 3 has made the Gru-vy leap past the $1B worldwide box office mark. With Thursday’s grosses, the Kyle Balda/Pierre Coffin-helmed pic has taken $741.4M at the international box office and $259.05M domestically. ...

There have been two other billion-dollar movies in 2017: the well-loved car epic The Fate of the Furious and a faithful remake of an animated classic, a movie entitled Beauty and the Beast (Let's hope they cut* the original crew in on some of the massive take, since animation artists created the blueprint from which the remake was constructed).

And it's good to keep in mind that the one billion-dollar summer movie from last year was the animated Finding Dory. And the billion dollar winners from the summer of '15? The partially-animated Jurassic World and fully animated Minions.

* I'm joking, of course. This is Hollywood were talking about. The boys and girls at the top share the wealth with nobody unless there is a .357 Magnum pointed to their heads.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Work Around Town

I'm out of the cartoon biz (retired and gone fishing), but not out of knowledgable contacts who know what TV projects are being made where. Also too, there is the internet. That's always helpful.

Cartoon Network

Powerpuff Girls

Ben 10

Mighty Maja-Swords

Steven Universe

Clarence (wrapping up)

We Bare Bears

Ok-Ko Lets Be Hero's

Splittin' Rent (aka "Close Enough" -- see Adult Swim)

Summer Camp Island

Apple and Onion

Craig of the Creek

Note that CN is using more freelance board artists, which has its issues.

Adult Swim

Close Enough (aka Splittin' Rent)

Victor & Valentino

Infinity Train

Tiggle Winks

Warner Bros. Animation


Be Cool Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo Wild West

Lego Scooby Doo

(There are a plethora of Scoobs.)

Lego Justice League



Justice League Action (wrapped-waiting for pick up)

Mike Tyson Mysteries

Teen Titans Go!* (working on 5th season - updated)

DC Superhero Girls

Green Eggs and Ham

Wacky Racers

New Scooby Doo series (headed up by Chris Bailey)

Young Justice

Lego Movie sequel

November 28th update: Here's the skinny on "Teen Titans Go!". WB Animation is now in production on the 5th season of the show. Fewer shows for this season, but the work should take the crew into mid-2018. WBA has hired a separate crew to work on the 70-minite "TTG!" feature now in work. (Note: This comes from a supervising director at another studio who usually knows most everything going on at various studios.)


Micronauts (produced in Ireland)

Stretch Armstrong (finishing up)


Bunsen is a Beast (Butch Hartman)

Sponge Bob

The Loud House

Harvey Beaks (ending)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (reboot)

Wally Kazam (ending)

Shimmer and Shine

Pinky Malinky

Glitch Tech

Hey Arnold Movie

Rocko's Modern Life

Henry Danger (animated series)

Disney TV Animation

Micky's Roadster Racers

Star vs The Forces of Evil

Puppy Capers

Sophia the First (wrapping up)

Future Worm


Duck Tales

Milo Murphy's Law (Dan & Swampy)

Wicked World

The Lion Guard (Disney Jr. "Baby Lion King")

The Three Caballeros

Muppet Babies

Country Club

Big Hero Six

Amphibio-land (Kim Robertson)

Elena of Avalor

Dreamworks Animation TV

Veggie Tales

Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Rocky and Bullwinkle

King Julian

Dino Trucks

Puss in Boots




Dragons Jr (young viewer)

Harvey Girls (Aliki)

Capt. Underpants

Spirit Riding Free


Boss Baby


Starz - Film Roman

(Sold to Lions Gate)

Rough Draft

New Matt Groening show

Mega Man


Costume Quest (for Amazon)

Paramount Animation

Gnomeo and Juliet: Sherlock Gnomes

Amusement Park

The Spongebob Movie 3

The Loud House Movie

Paramount Animation has two movies schedule for 2019, the long gestating Amusement Park and the third installment of "Spongebob", which has seen its production schedule start and stop a couple of times. My info is that "SB 3" is now on hiatus.

Bento Box

Bob's Burgers


Fox Animation (on Alameda and Wilshire)

Family Guy

American Dad

The Simpsons


Avengers Assemble

Guardians of the Galaxy


Titmouse/Robin Red Breast

Moon Beam


Super Jail

The Venture Brothers

Nico and the Sword of Light (Amazon)

Big Mouth (Netflix)


Skylanders Academy (union freelance only)


ABC Mouse (Flash)

Star Burns Industries

Rick and Morty (for Adult Swim - Rick and Morty LLC)


Shadow Machine

Bo Jack Horsemen

Dad Boner

Six Point/Six Point 2

Apollo Gauntlet (for Adult Swim)

Star Chaser pilot

Walt Disney Animation Studios

Wreck-It Ralph 2

Frozen 2


Wild Canary

Sheriff Callie's Wild West

Puppy Capers

Bureau of Magic

Lost in Oz

Stupid Buddies Stoodio

Robot Chicken

Buddy Thunderstruck



Leodoro Productions

F is for Family

Reel FX

Various development work


Alvin and the Chipmunks

Curious George

Dream East Pictures

Magic Deer(ended)

Illumination Entertainment Studios

Secret Life of Pets 2


Rough Draft

Clash of Clans (YouTube) season 1 (ending)

Disenchantment (Matt Groening)

Animation continues to thrive in Los Angeles, but there is increasing competition for some job categories. Studios continue to corral costs where they can, and "New Media" work continues, with increases in production for "subscription video on demand" (new media) down the road. (As always, the list above is not totally comprehensive. Feel free to report mistakes and gaps. I'm not omniscient.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Principle Photography

And the cash registers go ka-ching! as the vault gets dipped into more thoroughly.

The lamp has been rubbed and the genie is out. Will Smith, who plays the wish-granting Genie in the forthcoming live-action adaptation of Aladdin posted a picture on Facebook with fellow cast members Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and Marwan Kenzari to announce that shooting for the Disney movie has commenced. ...

There will be two new songs written by Menken and Oscar and Tony Award-winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

What was good in 1992 will be better in 2018 ... or whenever it's coming out. And when I say "better", I mean higher grossing. Because that's what this is about, right?