Sunday, January 27, 2019

Nominees' Box Office

Oscar contenders, old releases and new (including the above), get a boost in theaters as studios squeeze more juice from their various oranges. ...


1) Glass -- 3,844 theaters (+3) -- 3-day cume: $18.5M to $19M (-59%) -- $73.2M (-53%)

2) The Upside -- 3,377 theaters (+57) -- $12M+ -- $63M+

3) Aquaman (WB), 3,134 theaters (-341) -- $7.35M -- $316.5M

4) The Kid Who Would Be King -- 3,521 theaters -- $7.15M (1st week)

5) Spider-Man:Into the Spider Verse -- 2,383 theaters (-329) -- $6.3M (-27%) -- $169.19M

6) Green Book -- 2,430 theaters (+1,518) -- $5.35M -- $49M

7) A Dog’s Way Home -- 3,081 theaters (-9) -- $5.2M -- $30.8M

8) Serenity -- 2,561 theaters / $1.5M Fri. -- $4.4M (1st week)

9) Escape Room -- 2,192 theaters (-517) -- $4.28M -- $47.85M

10) Mary Poppins Returns -- 1,985 theaters -- $3,313,781 -- $165,204,791

Spider-Man Into the Spider-vers -- contender for "Best Animated Feature" -- continues to roll right along, declining a mere 27% at the domestic box office. Worldwide, it's taken in $338,100,242 -- that's 50% in the U.S. and Canada, 50% in overseas venues.

Meantime, Ralph Breaks the Internet -- another nominee -- resides at #22 on the box office list. Domestically it's earned $195,950,701; worldwide it's collected $473,588,045.

And now that the holidays are long gone, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch only remains in 146 theaters. In the U.S. and Canada it's grosses $270,397,335. Globally it's up to $508,697,335.

Mary Poppins Returns -- nominated for three Oscards -- has made brisk money at the American box office, putting it in the top teir for live-action musicals. Worldwide it's collected $319,187,704.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Writers In Animation

Forbes Magazine posts a think-piece on how animation writers get short shrift when their work is transferred to live-action and no further compensation is forthcoming ...

The recent trend of live action remakes of animated Disney classic shows no signs of slowing down with this week’s news that The Hunchback of Notre Dame is now in development. This year alone will see Dumbo released in March, followed by Aladdin in May, and then photo-realistic CGI hybrid The Lion King in July. ...

Beauty and the Beast released in 1991 was the third most successful film of the year having grossed over $600 million theatrically and another $220 million on home video. Linda Woolverton the screenwriter of the film received no residuals and did not participate nor was she credited as a writer on the 2017 live action remake. The simplest answer to this jaw-dropping puzzle that will provide little to no comfort is that feature animation is a different union than the Writers Guild of America (WGA) ...

[I]n the 1950s feature animation writers ... ended up joining what’s now The Animation Guild (TAG) under I.A.T.S.E Local 839. ... [M]ost feature animation is still through TAG which does not have language about residuals or separated rights. ...

Because [animated features] were written outside the jurisdiction of the WGA the original films and their underlying scripts are considered source material and treated as if they were a book or article when it comes time to do the remake. ...

The unions representing animation writers have, over the years, proposed and pushed for residuals on multiple occasions, but without result. Elsewhere in the world, this is less of a problem since many countries recognize creators' rights. This is why in Australia, France, and various other geographical locations, money is collected and remitted to directors and writers considered the authors of features and television shows.

In E. Pluribus Unum, however, the Supreme Court has ruled that creative work done on salary for a corporation can be construed a "work for hire," with rights held by the company and not the actual creator.

Crappy, but when the Supreme Court speaks, the losers are stuck with the justices decision. Even if angels strumming golden harps are on the losers' side.

And there are other complications. Most live-action scripts written under WGA jurisdiction have multiple authors. Yet only one or two writers are generally credited, so writers who worked for, say a year on the project early on, but didn't get their names up on screen are out of luck, residual-wise. (Writers Guild arbitrators decide who gets credit and who doesn't.)

As regards animated features, there are teams of creators known as storyboard artists. One or two writers might earn screenplay credit, but most long-form cartoons have a story supervisor and multiple board artists who make sizable continuity and dialogue contributions. Would they receive additional payments when the credited writer did, or are they cut out because their credit is "storyboard artist"?

As regards television product, supervising directors receive foreign levies, while directors credited as "timers" do not.

There is no formula in existence that will make all parties happy. And the fact that animation unions have been unable to achieve re-use residuals for writers who create scripts, and board artists who write dialogue and story in visual form, has been a source of continuing frustration.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

And the Winner Is ...

... either one of the two offerings from the Walt Disney Co., or the super-hero concoction that Sony released, or Wes Anderson's stop-motion film, or the Japanese movie.


Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs


Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

I'm placing my money on Spidey, but it could well be Brad Bird's high-grossing sequel that rockets away with the Oscar. We'll find out soon enough.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Martin Luther King Box Office

Two animated features reside in the Top Six. Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse has been living there for weeks and weeks, but there's this new anime offering (see above) ...


1) Glass -- 3,841 -- $40.5M -- $47M -- $47M (1st weekend)

2) The Upside -- 3,320 (+240) -- $15.6M (-23%) -- $19.5M -- $47.8M

3) Aquaman -- 3,475 (-388) -- $10.3M (-41%) -- $12.7M -- $306.7M

4) Dragon Ball…Broly -- 470 -- $8.7M -- $9.7M -- $20.5M (1st weekend)

5) A Dog’s Way Home -- 3,090 $1.7M -- $7.1M (-37%) --$9.5M -- $23.7M

6) …Spider-Verse -- 2,712 (-317) -- $7.2M (-20%) -- $9.1M -- $160.1M

7) Mary Poppins 2 -- 2,810 (-443) -- $5.2M (-32%) -- $6.7M -- $160.2M

8) Escape Room -- 2,709 (-8) -- $5.2M (-41%) -- $6.1M -- $41.5M

9) Bumblebee -- 2,711 (-592) -- $4.7M (-35%) -- $5.7M -- $116.9M

10) On The Basis Of Sex -- 1,957 (+34) -- $4M (-35%) -- $4.8M -- $17.7M

Dragon Ball Super Movie: Broly exploded onto the box office chart, opening strong and holding its own even with the loss of multiple theaters. Meantime Spider-Man Into the Spider-verse holds on strong week after week, and now has grossed north of $160 million. Worldwide the movie has made $322,856,385.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Mea Culpa Hour

The new animation head of Skydance had a meeting with employees.

... Lasseter told the team at Skydance Animation, “I am deeply sorry for my actions, which were unquestionably wrong. I very much regret making women feel unsafe or disrespected. I will continue to work every day for the rest of my life to prove to you that I have grown and learned. I am resolute in my commitment to build an animation studio upon a foundation of equality, safety, trust and mutual respect for everyone.” ...

When you go to confessional, it's always good to confess.

(Angry defensiveness wouldn't have cut it. The goal is to win the new staff over.)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Hang-Gliding Box Office

Aquaman moves over for the Cranston-Hart dramedy Upside, and Spider-man Into the Spider-verse continues in the top half of the Top Ten...


1) The Upside -- $19.6M -- $19.6M (1st weekend)

2) Aquaman -- 3,863 (-321) -- $17.3M (-44%) -- $287.9M

3) A Dog’s Way Home -- 3,090 -- $11.3M -- $11.3M (1st weekend)

4) …Spider-Verse -- 3,029 (-390) -- $9M (-31%) -- $147.8M

5) Escape Room -- 2,717 -- $8.9M (-51%) -- $32.4M

6) Mary Poppins 2 -- 3,253 (-837) -- $7.2M (-54%) -- $150.7M

7) Bumblebee -- 3,303 (-294) -- $6.8M (-49%) -- $108.5M

8) On The Basis Of Sex -- 1,923 (+1,811) -- $6.2M (+287%) -- $10.6M

9) The Mule -- 3,329 (+117) -- $5.5M (-39%) -- $90.5M

10) Vice -- 1,724 (-810) -- $3.3M (-43%) -- $35.9M

Meanwhile, Ralph Breaks the Internet falls out of the Main List and now perches at #14. Its domestic haul stands at $190,449,603, with a worldwide gross of $434,149,603. (By contrast, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch has earned $269,848,350 domestically and $504,948,350 globally.)

Friday, January 11, 2019

Stock Awards!!

Diz Co.'s Bob Iger earns some nice moolah...

Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger saw his pay rise to $65.7 million, an 80% increase over a year ago, according to documents filed today with the SEC.

The compensation reflects the generous stock package Iger was awarded as incentive to remain with the company past his planned retirement date, and lead Disney through its acquisition of much of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets.

Iger earned a salary of nearly $2.9 million, up from $2.5 million a year ago. He collected options worth $8.3 million and non-equity compensation of $18 million.

But the biggest chunk of Iger’s compensation came from the stock award connected to the Fox deal, which was valued at $35.35 million. Disney notes that the stock ultimately could be worth as much as $149.6 million if the acquisition wins regulatory approval and closes. ...

It's worth noting that Mr. Iger has over-stayed his retirement date to shepherd newly-acquired Fox assets into the Empire of the Mouse. (And happily, conveniently, collected a bunch more money.)

It's also worth noting that Mr. Iger's heir apparent was ... all of a sudden ... found to be wanting as the Chairman's exit date neared. Remarkably, this same phenomenon occurred with Big Iger's predecessor Michael Eisner when his end-date approached. (And there was scuttlebutt at the time that Mr. Iger was also not up to Eisner's exacting standards. How about that?)

Funny how that works. Much like imperial Rome during royal successions, except without the long knives.

The lesson to be gleaned here, of course, is its hard for well-compensated execs to say goodbye when exit-time approaches. And it's not just the money. It's also the power and perks and the fun of being the emperor of all you survey.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Musical Animation Execs

At Skydance, Bill Damaschke (formerly of DreamWorks Animation) is out, and the Man from Pixar is in.

John Lasseter, the Pixar co-founder who was forced to resign from the Walt Disney Company in June after complaints about unwanted touching in the workplace, has become one of the first men toppled in the #MeToo era to find a new Hollywood perch.

David Ellison, a “Mission: Impossible” producer and founder of Skydance Media, a production company affiliated with Paramount Pictures, said on Wednesday that Mr. Lasseter would become Skydance’s animation chief. Mr. Lasseter, 61, will start this month at the company. ...

Mr. Lasseter might have been pushed out the air lock at Disney due to busy hands, but Skydance's Ellison sees more benefit than cost in hiring Mr. Lasseter. If Mr. Lasseter can deliver animated blockbusters or even fair-sized hits, then CEO Ellison's new hire might have been worth it. But there is a bit of surprise and blowback regarding Sundance Animation's new executive.

... “He’s a talented guy but, really, has there been any contrition?” wondered one film executive who declined to be identified. ...

If John Lasseter can deliver a big hit, that will likely ease a lot of high-rollers' minds at Skydance.

But Lasster isn't the only animation mucky-muck who's making a move...

... Universal announced this afternoon that DreamWorks Animation Group President Chris deFaria, after two years in the position, is exiting the studio in the coming months.

In his place, Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley has promoted DWA TV president Margie Cohn who will now oversee both film and television operations. ...

I don't know who was disappointed in Mr. Defaria's stewardship (How to Train Your Dragon 3 has opened well Down Under, after all) but today's action points to Donna Langley being more positive about Ms. Cohn than Mr. deFaria. There's really no other conclusion to come to, is there?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Animated Robots!

Netflix continues to expand its slate of animated shows. It's not just about talking animals ...

Netflix on Monday took off the wraps on Love, Death & Robots, an adult-skeweing animated anthology series for the streaming giant that will be executive produced by David Fincher and Tim Miller via the latter’s Blur Studios. ...

[T]he 18-part series will span sci-fi, fantasy, horror and dark comedy, with episodes between 5-15 minutes long each created by different animation teams from around the world. Each will feature a unique style, from 2D to photo-real 3D CGI. ...

David Fincher is a director of live action: commercials, music videos, features, television, you name it. He directed Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. He directed Fight Club, Panic Room, and The Social Network (among others). And there were the first two chapters of Netflix's House of Cards.

Tim Miller is the director of Deadpool and the upcoming Terminator 6. Miller is also the co-founder of Blur studios.

In times gone by, neither of these men would be diving into animation. In times gone by (1920s to 1980s) live-action movers and shakers -- with the exception of Steven Spielberg -- had less than zero interest in getting heavily involved with animation. Most of the climbers in the movie industry had ambitions that ran in the other direction: people got into cartoons with the hope of spring-boarding into live-action.

In recent times, that progression has often been reversed. Live-action directors become directors/producers of animation. Where once cartoons were the small and shabby side-show to real movie-making (features with flesh-and-blood actors). But that's no longer the case. Animation is now a commercial powerhouse, rivaling super hero films. That being the case, it's really not a surprise that high-rollers from the the real-life side of motion pictures are happy to journey into the land of animation.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

A Surprise?

Producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller accept the Golden Globe for best animated feature Spider-Man, Into the Spider-Verse.

(Sometimes getting let go from a Star Wars movie that then under-performs can be a good thing)...

And the team's comments backstage (plus a false exit) ...

Oceanic Box Office

Aquaman (with tons of animation) continues to rule the box office chart. And Bumblebee (#5), also heavily animated, nudges up against $100 million. Fully animated features cling to rungs #4 (Spider-man and #9 (Ralph 2) ...


1) Aquaman -- 4,184 (+59) -- $30.7M (-41%) -- $259.7M

2) Escape Room -- 2,717 -- $18M -- $18M (Ist week)

3) Mary Poppins 2 -- 4,090 -- $15.8M (-44%) -- $138.7M

4) …Spider-Verse -- 3,419 (-394) -- $13M (-31%) -- $133.8M

5) Bumblebee -- 3,597 (+47) -- $12.8M (-39%) -- $97.1M

6) The Mule -- 3,212 (+425) -- $9M (-26%) -- $81.1M

7) Vice -- 2,534 (+92) -- $5.8M (-25%) -- $29.7M

8) Second Act -- 2,523 (-84) -- $4.9M (-33%) -- $32.9M

9) Ralph 2 -- 2,050 (-293) -- $4.68M (-30%) -- $187.1M

10) Holmes & Watson -- 2,780 (+4) -- $3.4M (-54%) -- $28.4M

Outside the Top Ten, The Grinch now stands at #17; domestically it's collected $269,612,735. Worldwide it owns $497,212,735.

Ralph Breaks the Internet has now collected $404,764,171 on a global basis.

Lastly, Aquaman now has a worldwide total of $940.7M

with a billion dollars heaving into view in the next five to seven days.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Axl Saves the World!

... or at least prevents serious damage from an ornery-looking meteor.

I believe this is Mr. Rose's first new tune since '08. And the first track on which he's backed by Bugs and Porky, not usually, so far as I know, part of the lineup.