Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year's Box Office

Sequels remain at the top of the pack while the animated features continue to lope along in the middle of the Big Ten:


1) Star Wars: The Last Jedi(DIS), 4,232 theaters (0)/ $19.1M (-23%) Fri/ 3-day: $55M (-23%)/4-day: $72.3M Total:$537M/ Wk 3

2) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (SONY), 3,765 theaters (0) / $17.8M Fri (+42%)/3-day: $51.4M (+41%)/4-day: $66.1M/Total:$185.4M/ Wk 2

3) Pitch Perfect 3 (UNI), 3,468 theaters (+21)/ $6.6M (-38%) Fri/3-day: $18.2M (-9%)/4-day: $23.4M/Total: $69.9M/ Wk 2

4) The Greatest Showman (FOX), 3,316 theaters (+310) / $5.3M (+71%) Fri /3-day: $15.4M (+75%)/4-day $20.4M/Total: $54M/Wk 2

5) Ferdinand (FOX), 3,337 theaters (-293) / $4.5M (+63%)Fri /3-day: $12.1M (+66%)/4-day: $15.9M/Total: $58M/ Wk 3

6) Coco(DIS), 2,104 theaters (-7) / $2.8M (+53) Fri/3-day: $7.6M (+41%)/4-day: $9.9M/Total: $182.3M / Wk 6

7) Darkest Hour (FOC), 943 theaters (+137)/ $1.8M Fri (+29%)/3-day: $5.5M (+41%)/ 4-day: $7.3M/ Total: $19.9M/ Wk 6

8) All The Money in the World (Sony) 2,074 theaters (+6)/ $1.76M Fri/3-day: $5.1M/4-day: $6.8M/Total: $14M/Wk 1

9) Downsizing (PAR), 2,664 theaters (-4)/ $1.6M Fri (-20%) /3-day: $4.57M (-8%)/ 4-day: $6M/Total: $18.4M/ Wk 2

10) The Shape of Water (FSL), 756 theaters (+26) / $1.1m Fri (0%) /3-day: $3.6M (+18%)/4-day: $5M/Total: $17.1M/Wk 5

Top title Star Wars: The Last Jedi is running 34% behind The Force Awakens but 35% ahead of Rogue One as it blasts past the billion dollar mark. Coco has a global total of $507,900,459, with 66% of the money coming from overseas. Blue Sky's Ferdinand own a worldwide gross of $77,322,297, with 40% coming from overseas.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Unions, Guilds and Harrassment

Unions and Guilds (both above and below the line) have had to deal with the new realities regarding harassment in the workplace. No longer are the problems being swept under rugs. And each labor organization is dealing with it in their own way.

... Unions and guilds say they’ve taken concrete steps to finally address an epidemic that has been festering in Hollywood since the days of silent movies. ...

The AMPTP and IATSE established an online sexual harassment prevention training program as part of their 2015 collective bargaining agreement, and that program began rolling out in January. And in July, the delegates to IATSE’s quadrennial convention voted unanimously to approve a resolution to “condemn sexual or other physical abuse perpetrated in the workplace” and to “work together to inform members that such actions will not be tolerated and that anyone responsible for workplace abuse will be held accountable.” ...

The culture has changed radically since 2015. Prior to Harvey Weinstein, there was a reluctance by many employees in the entertainment industry to file complaints against predators because they feared it would negatively impact their careers. The landscape has changed:

... SAG-AFTRA was the first of the Hollywood unions to publicly condemn Weinstein – four days after the story went viral squared. While calling Weinstein’s conduct “abhorrent and unacceptable,” the guild said that it’s just the tip of the iceberg, and that such behavior “is more prevalent than our industry acknowledges.”

It followed up with a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, where SAG-AFTRA president Carteris observed that “This is not just a Hollywood situation – this is systemic throughout our culture. … And this is not just in our culture, it’s global.” She also suggested that the union and its high-profile members could play a major role in changing the culture of abuse. “By working together,” she said, “we can absolutely change our culture.” More than half of the 150 performers who attended the meeting raised their hands when attorney Gloria Allred asked if they’d been sexually harassed in the workplace.

Entertainment unions have been in similar territory before. In the '40s and '50s, guild and union members were harassed for being leftists or communists. The Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild, and Writers Guild of America did not acquit themselves particularly well in protecting membership then (and neither did the IATSE. Local 839, in fact, was conceived by Walt Disney and IATSE Representative Roy Brewer because of a mutual dislike for the left-wing Screen Cartoonists Guild ... which 839 displaced.)

Maybe this time around, things will be better.

Sunday, December 24, 2017


Sequels, which occupy the top three slots of the box office list, continue to get made in droves. "Pitch Perfect 3" has received tepid reviews, but is STILL off to a relatively strong start.

No doubt holiday box office will be slowed down by Christmas Eve happening on Sunday, but Star Wars remains #1, while the two animated titles hang onto slots #5 and #6.


1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (DIS), 4,232 theaters / $24.7M Fri /$29.1M Sat/ $17.9M Sun/$31.4M Mon/3-day cume: $71.7M (-69%)/4-day: $103.1M/Total:$399.7M/ Wk 2

2. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (SONY), 3,765 theaters / $12.46M Fri / $14.8M Sat/ $9.2M Sun/$17.3M Mon/3-day cume: $36.5M/4-day: $53.8M/Total: $70.4M/ Wk 1

3. Pitch Perfect 3 (UNI), 3,447 theaters / $10.6M Fri (includes $2.1M previews)/$6.7M Sat/ $2.6M Sun/ $6.1M Mon/3-day cume: $19.9M/4-day: $26M/ Wk 1

4. The Greatest Showman (FOX), 3,006 theaters / $3.1M Fri /$3.5M Sat/$2.1M Sun/$5.2M Mon/ 3-day cume: $8.8M/4-day: $14M/Total: $18.9M/Wk 1

5. Ferdinand (FOX), 3,630 theaters (+9) / $2.7M Fri /$3M Sat/$1.56M Sun/$2.37M Mon/3-day cume: $7.3M (-46%)/4-day: $9.67M/Total: $29.1M/ Wk 2

6. Coco(DIS), 2,111 theaters (-1,044) / Fri: $1.85M /$2.2M Sat/$1.3M Sun/$2.2M Mon/ 3-day cume: $5.36M (-46%)/4-day: $7.6M/Total: $163.7M / Wk 5

7.Downsizing (PAR), 2,668 theaters / $2M Fri /$1.7M Sat/ $1.1M Sun/$2.3M Mon/3-day cume: $4.96M/4-day: $7.2M/ Wk 1

8. Darkest Hour (FOC), 806 theaters (+722)/ $1.4M Fri /$1.5M Sat/ $942K Sun/$1.7M Mon/3-day cume: $4M (+360%) /4-day: $5.7M/Total: $8.5M/ Wk 5

9. Father Figures (ALC/WB), 2,902 theaters / $1.3M Fri /$1.1M Sat/ $730K Sun/$1.6M Mon/3-day cume: $3.28M/4-day: $4.9M/ Wk 1

10. The Shape of Water (FSL), 726 theaters (+568) / $1.1m Fri /$1.1M Sat/$735k Sun/ 3-day cume: $3M (+78%) /4-day: $4.3M /Total: $8.9M/Wk 4

Ferdinand has collected $34,159,266 worldwide, of which 78% is from the United States and Canada. Coco now has a global accumulation of $486,327,128, with 33.2% of that amount coming from domestic sources.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Brief History of the Animation Guild's 401(k) Plan

The above is somewhat out-of-date. Check with the Guild and/or the Plan administrator for full details

I get a diminishing number of asks about the Guild's 401(k) plan (which happens when you are out of the loop), but here is a thumbnail of how the 401(k) Plan started and how it arrived at Vanguard Financial Group:

1995 -- The Guild (then the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Union) proposes establishing a 401(k) Plan to supplement the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan. (The union can set up its own 401k because it's not part of the IATSE bargaining unit under the industry-wide Basic Agreement.)

Producer bargaining representatives say "No!"

After negotiations, union president Tom Sito circulates a petition asking for a 401(k) Plan. It's submitted the CEO Michael Eisner, who says, "Good idea, we'll do it." Disney reverses it's earlier "No" response and agrees to participate in a union 401(k) plan.

Other studios, seeing that the Big Mouse is doing a 401(k) with the union, scramble aboard the bandwagon and say "Yes" as well.

The union approaches multiple third-party administrators. The Principal Financial Group is one of the few companies who will set up a Plan with minimal outlays by the union. The Plan launches in the summer of 1995. There are big initial signups by members. Board of Trustees for the Plan comes into existence -- three Trustees on the employers' side, three trustees on the union side. (Union trustees are the business representative, the union president, and a union board member or member at large who volunteers to become a trustee.

2008 -- There are administrative problems with Principal Financial Group. The board of trustees, with aid of an outside plan advisor, reviews other administrators. Mass Mutual Insurance becomes the new plan administrator. (The Vanguard Group is approached, but declines to become a plan administrator, saying at the time they only do corporate plans.)

2014 -- Plan trustees become dissatisfied with Mass Mutual's service, transparency and costs, and begin search for a new plan advisor and administrator. In August, Vanguard (finally!) comes aboard as the new Plan administrator; at the same time, a new financial advisor joins the Plan. Overall costs of administration for the Plan declines, and Target Date funds become the main vehicle for most participants (over 90%).

2015-2016 -- Roth 401(k) option rolled out across participating studios. Participation in the TAG 401(k) Plan climbs as plan assets pass $250 million.

ADD ON: And the current stats for the Plan?

Total active participants -- 2763.

Total Plan assets -- $304 million.

Average participant assets -- $104,573.

Percentage total of participants in Target Date Funds -- 83.3%.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Congrats to Ron & John

Two deserving Disney veterans receive the Menzies Award.

The Art Directors Guild said today that Oscar-nominated writer-directors Ron Clements and John Musker will receive its 2018 William Cameron Menzies Award.

The award recognizes the filmmaking partners’ innovative artistic work on numerous Disney animated movies of the past 30 years including Moana, The Princess and the Frog, Treasure Island, Hercules, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and The Great Mouse Detective. They will accept their hardware January 27 during the 22nd annual ADG Excellence in Production Design Awards at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood. ...

Mr. Clements and Mr. Musker started their careers at what was Walt Disney Productions in the 1970s. They've directed seven animated features together, including The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, and Moana. Almost all of their Disney features have been money makers.

John Musker is an alumnus of Cal Arts; Ron Clements started his animation career at Hanna-Barbera. Both hail from America's heartland.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Force Obliterates (The Competition)

Now with Add On.

The latest Star Wars episode appears to have a bit of traction:


1.) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (DIS), 4,232 theaters / $104M-$105M Fri (includes $45M previews)/3-day cume: $216-220M/Wk 1

2.) Ferdinand (FOX), 3,621 theaters / $3.6M Fri (includes $350k previews)/3-day cume: $12.3M/Wk 1

3.) Coco(DIS), 3,155 theaters (-593) / Fri: $2.23M / 3-day cume: $9.2M(-50%)/Total: $150M / Wk 4

4.) Wonder (Lionsgate), 3,047 theaters (-472) /$1.48M Fri /3-day cume: $5M (-40%)/ Total: $108.8M/Wk 5

5.) Justice League (WB), 2,702 theaters (-806)/$1M Fri / 3-day cume: $3.9M (-60%)/Total: $219.2M/ Wk 5

6) Daddy’s Home 2 (PAR), 2,493 theaters (-770) /$911K Fri / 3-day cume: $3.3M (-44%)/ Total: $96.1M/Wk 6

7). Thor: Ragnarok (DIS), 1,895 theaters (-1,152) / $769K Fri/ 3-day cume: $2.82M (-55%) / Total cume: $306.1M / Wk 7

8.) The Disaster Artist (A24), 1,010 theaters (+170) / $749K Fri/3-day cume: $2.43M (-62%)/Total: $12.7M/Wk 3

9) Murder on the Orient Express (FOX), 1,923 theaters (-1,116)/ $669K Fri / 3-day cume: $2.29M (-56%)/Total: $97.1M/ Wk 6

10). Lady Bird (A24), 947 theaters (-610) /$548K Fri /3-day cume: $1.9M (-44%)/ Total cume: $25.8M / Wk 7

If you're keeping score (and why would you not?), a live-action movie with tons of animated VFX is #1, animated features sit at #2 and #3. Then you have a pair of super hero movies, also with lots of animated visual effects, occupying spots #5 an #7.

The latest Disney/Lucasfilm space opera sucking up most of the oxygen isn't too surprising. The latest SW scored high with audiences ... and I knew something was up when I traipsed past the AMC 16 in downtown Burbank at 7:30 this morning and there were double lines stretched back to San Fernando Road, one labeled "Disney 2D" and one labeled "Disney 3D" (both for Star Wars).

There's a whole of of animating going on, any way you slice it. And as an industry site notes:

... Star Wars: The Last Jedi, looking to become only the fourth domestic release to ever open over $200 million. ...

Fox, which now is part of Disney, was looking to counter-program the space epic with a cartoon about a flower-loving bull, but its first weekend won't be strong. Maybe it could push nort of $70 million at the domestic box office, but it would have to do a multiple higher than five and that's a tall order. (But who knows? Ferdinand's CinemaScore was "A", so maybe it'll have some legs. (The movie earned a 74% "Fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes.)

Add On: The trades report that Disney-Fox corralled a huge part of the weekend box office:

... Currently, total domestic ticket sales look to gross $280M this weekend per ComScore, and Disney and Fox films combined are generating 90% of that total ... or $252.1M.

Not shabby, here in our ever more corporate Corporatist State.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"It'll All Be Good"

The Mouse has now (pending guvmint approval) swallowed 21st Century Fox and Rupert Murdoch family is now Disney's second largest shareholder. And reality collides with happy talk!

... The division of assets is posing two big questions for rank-and-file employees: how many of those in the units purchased by Disney will be laid off as part of the “at least $2 billion of cost savings” the mouse house boasted about today ...

Short-term, there will be no effect on employment, and New Fox will even need more bodies, the executives reportedly stressed, but, if the Disney-Fox transaction goes through, there will be overlaps and layoffs there, they admitted. ...

They admitted to downsizing. So give them that.

You strip away the flapdoodle, and what happen is: Rupert's surviving "New Fox" (profitable Fox News, the struggling newspapers, a couple dozen old-fashioned teevee stations, and the sports cable networks) will need some limited new staffing until Rupe figures out how to cut things closer to the bone, and ...

The Walt Disney Company will do the Comcast thing, figuring out how to eliminate duplicate staffing, deciding (for example) if Blue Sky Studios in Connecticut will continue. ("Guys? We need this facility on the east coast? What with three other feature studios on the west coast?"

As we know, big corporate mergers always work out well for everybody, particularly employees caught in the middle of the latest Owners' Enrichment Project.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New DWA TV Product

Per one of our fine movie-town websites, DreamWorks Animation TV has orders from Netflix for a raft of new product, which should keep pre-production board artists occupied for awhile. And the newbies are...

Trolls: The Beat Goes On!


The Boss Baby: Back in Business

Harvey Street Kids

The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants

3 Below (second series of "Tales of Arcadia" threesome).

It's a mix of old, new and TV versions of DreamWorks Animation animated features. In other words, a mix similar to earlier DWAtv-Netflix lineups. It's important to keep young eyes glued to the streaming video services, for young eyes become older eyes and watching habits become ingrained. (That's the plan, anyway.)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Three "Wins" In A Row

The Pixar holiday offering lands atop the Big List for the third consecutive weekend. The Star also hangs in, thus far grossing 24% of Coco's total.


1.) Coco(DIS), 3,748 theaters (-239) / Fri: $4.2M /$8.2M Sat/ $5.7M Sun/ 3-day cume: $18.3M (-33%)/Total: $135.5M / Wk 3

2.) Justice League (WB), 3,508 theaters (-312)/$2.5M Fri/$4.4M Sat/ $2.6M Sun/ 3-day cume: $9.6M (-42%)/Total: $212M/ Wk 4

3.) Wonder (Lionsgate), 3,519 theaters (+70) /$2.5M Fri/$3.5M Sat. / $2.3M Sun/ 3-day cume: $8.45M (-30%)/ /Total: $100.3M/Wk 4

4.) The Disaster Artist (A24), 840 theaters (+821) / $2.6M Fri /$2.1M Sat/$1.6M Sun/3-day cume: $6.4M (+397%)/PTA: $7,6k /Total: $8M/Wk 2

5). Thor: Ragnarok (DIS), 3,047 theaters (-101) / $1.68M Fri /$2.8M Sat/ $1.8M Sun/3-day cume: $6.3M (-36%) / Total cume: $301.1M / Wk 6

6) Daddy’s Home 2 (PAR), 3,263 theaters (-140) /$1.59M Fri / $2.7M Sat / $1.7M Sun/3-day cume: $6M (-20%)/ Total: $91.1M/Wk 5

7) Murder on the Orient Express (FOX), 3,089 theaters (-112)/ $1.5M Fri /$2.2M Sat/$1.4M Sun 3-day cume: $5.1M (-25%)/Total: $92.7M/ Wk 5

8.) The Star (SONY), 2,976 theaters (+154) /$800K Fri /$1.7M Sat/ $1.1M Sun/ 3-day cume: $3.67M (-10%)/Total:$32.2M/Wk 4

9). Lady Bird (A24), 1,557 theaters (+363) /$1M Fri /$1.4M Sat/ $1.1M Sun/3-day cume: $3.54M (-17%)/ Total cume: $22.3M / Wk 6

10.) Just Getting Started (BG), 2,161 theaters / $1.1M Fri/$1.26M Sat/ $759K Sun/3-day cume: $3.1M/Wk 1

11) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO (FSL), 1,620 theaters (+190) / $835K Fri / $1.25M Sat/$775K Sun/3-day cume: $2.86M (-35%) /Total: $18.3M /Wk 5

Of course, the blockbuster wannabes arrive soon for the holiday movie feeding frenzy. Among millenials, Star Wars 17 (or whatever number it is), remains the top choice, and the Jumanji sequel/reboot (or whatever they consider the new version) is Choice #2. As is the custom with today's tentpoles, both offerings contain large gobs of animation. Ferdinand, the next animated feature in wide release, is tracking only moderately well.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Bob Givens

Sad to report that Robert Givens, longtime designer, layout and background artist, whose career reaches back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is seriously ill. (Bob is ninety-nine years old and just shy of 100, and at that age, sickness is a dangerous thing.)

Mr. Givens worked as an inbetweener at Walt Disney Productions, but soon departed animation work for design, storyboards, and layout at Leon Schlesinger's studio in Hollywood. After World War II interrupted his cartoon career, he returned to Warner Bros. and resumed what became more than a half-century of television and theatrical cartooning. Bob not only worked on the first animated television commercial (in 1947) but thousands more afterward.

He continued to work right into the 21st century, finishing up his career with The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries (Warner Bros. Animation) and Timber Wolf.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Strip Mining The Catalogue

Disney is still busy monetizing animated titles, because it CAN.

Disney has made Rob Marshall the top choice to direct The Little Mermaid, the live action adaptation of the animated classic musical that will have new songs by Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken, sources said. ...

I remember when Little Mermaid was pitched at the first "gong show" that Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg held for the animation department. It was the summer of '85 and we were all seated around a long table in a back room of the Disney cafeteria. Ron Clements made the pitch, and Mr. Eisner and Mr. Katzenberg said "Too much like Splash. Don't think so."

Ron, however, doesn't take rejection sitting down. He sent his treatment to Jeffrey K. and Katzenberg (wisely) changed his mind. Eisner also changed his initial opinion.

And now, TLM is being reworked to live-action specifications, but the bones and spine of Ron Clements' and John Musker's original creation will undoubtedly be there, and if there is justice in the universe, they will be well compensated for the redo.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Animation Bookends

On the Big Box Office List, animated features sit at the top ... and the bottom:


1.) Coco (DIS), 3,987 theaters / Fri: $6.3M (-67%)/ 3-day cume: $27.8M (-45%)/Total:$110.4M / Wk 2

2.) Justice League (WB), 3,820 theaters (-231)/$4.5M Fri/ 3-day cume: $15.8M (-61%)/Total: $196.5M/ Wk 3

3.) Wonder (WB), 3,449 theaters (+277) /$3.6M Fri/3-day cume: $13.2M (-42%)/ /Total: $88.7M/Wk 3

4). Thor: Ragnarok (DIS), 3,148 theaters (-133) / $2.3M Fri/ 3-day cume: $9.36M (-44%) / Total cume: $291M / Wk 5

5) Daddy’s Home 2 (PAR), 3,403 theaters (-115) /$2.1M Fri/ 3-day cume: $7.45M (-44%)/ Total: $82.8M/Wk 4

6) Murder on the Orient Express (FOX), 3,201 theaters (+49)/ $2M Fri/ 3-day cume: $7M (-47%)/Total: $85M/ Wk 4

7) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MO (FSL), 1,430 theaters (+816) / $1.4M Fri/ 3-day cume: $4.5M (+2%) /Total: $13.6M /Wk 4

9). Lady Bird (A24), 1,194 theaters (+403) /$1.2M Fri/3-day cume: $4M (0%)/ Total cume: $16.6M / Wk 5

10.) The Star (SONY), 2,822 theaters (-15) /$874K Fri / 3-day cume: $3.8M (-45%)/Total:$27.1M/Wk 3

Coco has hung in there, and remains #1 in its second weekend. (There has been no new wide releases, which helps.)

Ferdinand from Blue Sky Studios is the next high profile cartoon feature on the national release schedule, rolling out to multi-plexes on December 15th. Disney used the same underlying property -- a book by Munro Leaf -- for a short cartoon in 1938, earning an Oscar for its efforts. How will the long-form Ferdinand do?

On the plus side:

The strong ensemble voice cast led by John Cena’s titular character lends itself to parental appeal, a key to success when it comes to animated breakouts — particularly around the holiday season.

As the only other major studio animated offering through the holidays besides Disney/Pixar’s Coco, family crowds will likely gravitate toward this over Christmas and New Year’s.

And the negatives?

The character — based on a little known 20th century animated property — doesn’t have the built-in awareness among kids to turn this into a huge debut out of the gate.

Likewise, opening weekend competition is stiff (to say the least) as plenty of family audiences will be turning out for Star Wars. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle will similarly be aiming for family audiences when it debuts closer to Christmas.

While healthy in general, social media activity currently lags behind that of last year’s Sing — particularly on Facebook.

So how does the new Ferdinand open? If it breaks into the fortys (of millions) against Star Wars, it can be chalked up as a success. (Coco made $50 million during its first domestic weekend. Ferdy will probably come in way lower than that.)