Thursday, March 29, 2018

Not Good

BuzzFeed and Deadline Hollywood detail creepy behavior of an animation veteran:

... Robyn Byrd was 13-years-old when she sent [John] Kricfalusi a video of herself talking about her drawings and her dreams of a career in animation, hoping to attract the attention of the hit show’s creator. He responded with an effusive letter and began sending her gifts of toys and art supplies. He helped the young girl establish an AOL account so they could remain in touch and even visited her in Tuscon, Arizona. When she was a high school junior he flew her to Los Angeles to show her his studio. That same trip, she told BuzzFeed, he touched her genitals through her pajamas. She was just 16. ...

Not good behavior, but kinks have existed in the industry for years.

Ward Kimball recalled how director Gerry Geronomi assaulted Ward's female assistant in the 1930s:

... Gerry was a crude man. I had a woman assistant named Mary who was very well constructed. She drove Jerry crazy and finally he couldn't stand it. And one day he came up behind her and he went "Rhhhrr!"... I heard this scream and the chair flew back and the desk got knocked over. And I went running in there and said "What the hell?" I knew Gerry had just left my room... Vince said that Gerry had grabbed Mary... I mean, that's terrible. That's not a class act.

So, did Geronomi get disciplined? Fired maybe? Nope, Gerry was still at Disney into the 1960s. That was the reality back during animation's "Golden Age".

But decades later, the culture hadn't changed much. A Disney TVA director in the 90s had suggestive artwork decorating a large section of hallway; he was told (half-jokingly) by an executive he was "a lawsuit waiting to happen." No punishment was forthcoming.

Kinkish behavior has gone on in animation since its beginning. But political dynamics are way different than they were ten, twenty or eighty years ago. Women don't put up with the twisted, frat boy behavior anymore, and so tales of bad behavior are now hitting the mainstream press.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Box Office -- March 23-25

Black Panther has now become Disney-Marvel's highest grossing stateside release. (And a new animated feature's coast to coast debut is sadly underwhelming.)

Three Days of Grosses

1) Pacific Rim Uprising -- Uni/Leg -- 3,708 -- $26.2M (1st wkend)

2) Black Panther -- Dis -- 3,370 (-464) -- $16.6M (-38%) -- $630.9M

3) I Can Only Imagine -- RSA -- 2,253 (+624) -- $13.7M (-20%) $38.1m

4) Sherlock Gnomes -- PAR/MGM -- 3,662 -- $10.3M (1st wkend)

5) Tomb Raider -- WB/MGM -- 3,854 -- $10M (-58%) -- $41.3M

6) A Wrinkle In Time -- Dis 3,423 (-557) -- $8.1M (-50%) -- $73.9M

7) Love, Simon -- Fox -- 2,434 (+32) -- $7.9M (-32%) -- $23.7M

8) Paul, Apostle Of Christ -- Sony -- 1,473 -- $4.95M (1st wkend)

9) Midnight Sun -- GR -- 2,173 -- $4.2M (1st wkend)

10) Game Night -- WB/NL -- 1,866 (-820) -- $4.1M (-27%) -- $60.8M

The only animated feature in the Top Ten is Sherlock Gnomes, followup to Gnomeo & Juliet, the Kelly Asbury-directed (and written) feature released by Disney/Touchstone seven years ago. G & J was an under-the-radar hit that collected $193,967,670 on a $36 million budget, making it highly profitable for Disney.

Despite the tall grosses, Disney has moved on from garden gnomes, and Paramount Animation, with M-G-M as a junior partner, is releasing the followup. Sherlock Gnomes's first weekend take will be roughly 40% of the original's, on a budget of $59 million.

Will the picture end up in profits? That depends on how the overseas market performs, and whether Sherlock Gnoes can hold in its second weekend. Unfortunately the first weekend in the United States and Canada has been nothing to gladden hearts in Paramount's executive suites, but maybe the feature will do better business in foreign lands.

But all is not gloom. Wes Anderson's stop motion opus Isle of Dogs will take in $1.7 million in 27 theaters over the weekend, giving it a per-screen average of $62,900. Now if it can just keep those per-screen figures up when it goes wide, we're looking at a blockbuster.

And Peter Rabbit out of the Top Ten at #12 after seven weeks, now holds $106,766,715 (domestic) in his small, furry paws.

"Deadpool" Stall-Out

A few hiccups have happened with getting an animated version of Deadpool on the air:

FX is not going forward with its Marvel’s Deadpool animated adult action-comedy series, from Atlanta creator/executive producer/star Donald Glover and writer Stephen Glover. ...

“Due to creative differences, FX, Donald Glover, Stephen Glover and Marvel Television have agreed to part ways on Marvel’s Deadpool animated series,” the network said in a statement Saturday. “FX will no longer be involved with the project. FX and Marvel have an ongoing relationship through our partnership on Legion, which will continue.” ...

The Deadpool franchise is controlled by Fox ... which means it's (shortly) to be controlled by the House of Mouse. And the one thing of which you can be certain with Disney? The international conglomerate knows how to squeeze maximum dollars out of a franchise.

So look for an animated version of Deadpool to hit airwaves or internet (maybe both) in the not-distant future. There's intellectual property to be explited, and profits to be made!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Emmy Nominations

It seems like only yesterday that Oscars were handed out for animated features and animated shorts. Now ... it's time for Daytime Emmy nominations.

The Cartoon Nominations


“Lost in Oz: Extended Adventure”

“Mr. Peabody and Sherman”

“SpongeBob SquarePants”


“Wild Kratts”


“DuckTales: Woo-oo”

“All Hail King Julien: Exiled”

“Octonauts: Operation Deep Freeze”

“Puss in Boots: Trapped in an Epic Tale”

“A StoryBots Christmas”


“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”

“Nature Cat”


“The Stinky & Dirty Show”

“Tumble Leaf”


Christopher Diamantopoulos, “Skylanders Academy”

Tom Kenny, “SpongeBob SquarePants”

Tress MacNeille, “VeggieTales in the City”

Andy Richter, “All Hail King Julien: Exiled”

John Tartaglia, “Splash and Bubbles”


“Blaze and the Monster Machines”

“Elena of Avalor”

“Puppy Dog Pals”

“Sunny Day”

“Tangles: The Series”


“Doc McStuffins”



“A StoryBots Christmas”



“All Hail King Julien”

“Elena of Avalor”

“The Loud House”


“Welcome To The Wayne”


“Danger & Eggs”

“Disney Mickey Mouse”

“The Loud House”

“The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show”

“Niko and the Sword of Life”


“The Stinky & Dirty Show”

“A StoryBots Christmas”

“Through the Woods”

“Tumble Leaf”



Marie Thorhauge Torslev – Production Designer, “Through the Woods”

Steve C. Meyes – Background Layout Artist, “Puppy Dog Pals”

Tom Caulfield – Storyboard Artist, “Tangled: The Series”

Michelle Park – Color Designer, “Star vs. The Forces of Evil”

Robyn Yannoukos – Colorist, “Tumble Leaf”

The daytime Emmys are different animals from their night-time cousins. They have different selection and voting procedures, and the awards are presented at a different awards ceremony. Outside of that, exactly the same.

Various animated series and on-offs (A StoryBots Christmas and Tangled come to mind) have gotten anywhere from one to a half-dozen Emmy nominations. Good luck to all the nominees.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Investing in Our Corporatist Age

Not long ago, a newer government rule stipulated that Financial Advisors had a fiduciary responsibility to be good stewards of their clients' money. In other words, the client had to come first. Simple and logical, but the courts have ruled that the reality can be otherwise:

A divided federal appeals court on Thursday tossed out an Obama-era Labor Department rule that required financial investment advisers to act in the best interest of their clients.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said the fiduciary rule bears the hallmarks of “unreasonableness” and constitutes an arbitrary and capricious exercise of administrative power.

The lawsuit stems from a challenge the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and eight other business and financial groups brought against the rule. ...

What does this mean in real life?

It means that "financial advisors" (so-called) can pick your pockets when giving you tips on how to invest. They can charge exorbitant fees. They can steer you to high-priced mutual funds that provide them with a cut of the action. The advisors can, at their option, work in their best interest and against yours. They will no longer have to worry about a regulation that holds them accountable.

So how can you counteract this? It's actually (happily) not difficult. The small, dirty secret is, investing assets for retirement is remarkably simple. You can bone up with a few basic books (or pithy blog posts). You can put your money in diversified, low-cost index funds that will outperform 90% of what financial advisors offer.

Want to do it yourself? Choose your percentages of stocks and bond with a Three-Fund Portfolio.

Want somebody else to do the heavy lifting for you (while charging but a pittance)? There are a variety of different funds from which to choose: Life Strategy Funds, Target-Date retirement Funds, even a Tax-Managed Fund.

The point of the exercise is, the lower your investment costs, the more invested dollars you get to keep. (If you pay an advisor 2% off the top, over a 20-year span -- 20 X 2% -- you give the FA a lot of your assets. So don't do it.)

The moral here? You don't need no stinkin' financial advisor. You can get a long fine and dandy without him (or her).

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

New Stop Motion

Animation veteran Henry Selick has lined up a new project:

... Netflix has committed to finance and distribute Wendell and Wild, a stop-motion animated feature to be directed by James and the Giant Peach helmer Henry Selick. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele will supply the voices for two scheming demon brothers. ...

So Netflix is going to have a go with stop-motion animation. This is commendable, but NF shouldn't expect monster grosses since stop-motion has never delivered big numbers.

Selick's first feature Nightmare Before Christmas was profitable ($76.2 million), but didn't gross anywhere near the numbers that Aladdin $504,050,219)and Lion King ($968,483,777) did around the same time. Relative to the Mouse's early-nineties hand-drawn features and the performance of CG features over the last two decades, stop motion movies have been far less commercially viable. (Case in point: the non-performance of Early Man at neighborhood AMCs.)

Stop-motion is a beautiful art form with a fabled history. It just doesn't bring in an abundance of dollars at the box office.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Spring Break Box Office

Two Disney movies at the top of the chart.

Black Panther, dominant over most of the last month, continues to top the Big Chart:


1) Black Panther (DIS), 3,942 theaters (-142) / $10M Fri (-37%) / 3-day: $41M (-38%)/Total: $561.8M/Wk 3

2) A Wrinkle in Time (DIS), 3,980 theaters / $10.3m Fri (includes $1.2M previews)/3-day: $32.7M /Wk 1

3) Strangers: Prey at Night (AVI), 2,464 theaters / $4M Fri /3-day: $10.2M /Wk 1

4) Red Sparrow (FOX), 3,064 theaters (+8) / $2.3m Fri (-61%)/3-day: $7.9M (-53%)/Total: $30.9M/ Wk 2

5) Game Night (NL/WB), 3,061 theaters (-441) / $2.1m Fri (-27%)/3-day: $7.7M (-26%)/Total: $44.8M/Wk 3

6) Peter Rabbit (SONY), 3,112 theaters (-495) / $1.4M Fri (-27%) /3-day: $6.5M (-35%) /Total: $93.1M/Wk 5

7) Death Wish (MGM), 2,882 theaters (+35) / $1.7M Fri (-59%)/3-day: $6M (-54%)/Total: $23.3M/Wk 2

8) Annihilation (PAR), 1,709 theaters (-403) / $870K Fri (-43%)/3-day: $3.2M (-43%)/Total: $26.1M/Wk 3

9) The Hurricane Heist (EST), 2,402 theaters / $950k Fri /3-day: $3M /Wk 1

10) Gringo (AMX/STX), 2,404 theaters / $983K Fri /3-day: $2.8M /Wk 1

Peter Rabbit remains in 3,000 theaters with a $94,282,006 domestic gross as of Monday. Ferdinand has a couple hundred theaters and a $83,405,118 domestic gross. The Oscar winner Coco resides in 194 theaters with a totl $208,870,506 from the U.S. and Canada.

Early Man is on 184 screens with $8,044,970 in the kitty. (I'm thinking this could have been a Netflix original, yes? Perhaps a better release strategy?))

Friday, March 9, 2018

Orlando Swamp To Mega-Profitable Amusement Park(s)

Business Insider retells the story of Orlando, Florida being majorly transformed fifty years ago:

What Disney did in the 1960s, in terms of buying [Orlando-area] land in secret, could obviously never, ever happen again. This was a one-and-done type of operation in terms of how secretive it was. ... If they were doing that now, they would be on the FBI's watch list. ...

Michael Eisner had a bit to do with Disney becoming a gargantuan media company, as did Robert Iger. But the game-changer was thirty thousand acres of orange groves, pastureland and swampy bogs getting bought up by Walt Disney Productions more than a half-century back.

Without the amusement parks, Disney would never have become the Berksire-Hathaway of entertainment conglomerates, owning multiple studios, television networks and large swaths of real estate that circles the globe.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Newer Grinch

So Chuck Jones did it over a half-century ago, Jim Carrey did it in the 1990s, and now ...

Illumination Entertainment rolls out its version November 9th. The new intertion will likely have a Despicable Me/Minions tilt to it, which is probably a good thing from a commercial standpoint.

From a Suessian standpoint? We'll see.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

March Of The Theater Grosses

"Red Sparrow" is the latest wide release with a major star to take on "Black Panther" ... and come up #2. (And "BP" has no crossed the $500 million mark in domestic box office.)

Peter Rabbit declines a smallish 21.6% and now occupies the fifth slot on the Box Office List. Aardman's Early Man nosedives 72.7% and now sits at the 21st position. Rabbit has collected over $84 million in four weeks while Early Man has taken in $7,737,449 in three. Yikes!


1) Black Panther (DIS), 4,084 theaters (+64) / $16.3M Fri /$30M Sat/ $19.4M Sun/ 3-day: $65.7M (-41%)/Total: $501.1M/Wk 3

2) Red Sparrow (FOX), 3,056 theaters / $6M Fri (includes $1.2M previews)/$6.7M Sat/ $4.3M Sun/3-day: $17M /Wk 1

3) Death Wish (MGM), 2,847 theaters / $4.2m Fri (includes $650K previews)/$5.2M Sat/ $3.5M Sun/3-day: $13M /Wk 1

4) Game Night (NL/WB), 3,502 theaters (+14) / $3m Fri /$4.8M Sat/ $2.9M Sun/3-day: $10.7M (-37%)/Total: $33.5M/Wk 2

5) Peter Rabbit (SONY), 3,607 theaters (-100) / $2M Fri /$4.7M Sat/ $3.2M Sun/3-day: $10M (-22%) /Total: $84M/Wk 4

6) Annihilation (PAR), 2,112 theaters (+100)/ $1.5M Fri /$2.4M Sat/ $1.75M Sun/3-day: $5.65M (-49%)/Total: $20.6M/Wk 2

7) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (SONY), 2,313 theaters (-206) / $1M Fri /$2.1M Sat/ $1.3M Sun/3-day: $4.5M (-20%)/Total:$393.2M/ Wk 11

8) Fifty Shades Freed (UNI), 2,614 theaters (-651) / $1M Fri /$1.5M Sat/ $750K Sun/3-day: $3.3M(-54%)/Total: $95.6M /Wk 4

9) The Greatest Showman (FOX), 1,407 theaters (-194) / $715K Fri /$1.2M Sat/ $755K Sun/ 3-day: $2.67M (-22%)/Total: $164.6M/Wk 11

10) Every Day (OR), 1,669 theaters / $455K Fri /$729K Sat/ $376K Sun/3-day: $1.56M (-48%)/Total: $5.3M/Wk 2