April 18, 2014

Tag Archives: Computer-animated films

Shanghai’s $2.4 billion “DreamCenter” to Open in 2017

In a sign of Hollywood’s expanding ties with China, DreamWorks Animation and Chinese partners Thursday unveiled their $2.4 billion “DreamCenter,” an entertainment complex in Shanghai that is set to open in 2017.
The complex will contain a 500-seat IMAX cinema with international film festivals and red carpet events in mind, bars, restaurants and performance venues, according to the companies.
A “Dream Avenue” theater district modeled on London’s West End and New York City’s Broadway will also be part of the complex, according to the Associated Press.
The 40-acre site includes eight outdoor events plazas.
The project is led by “Kung Fu Panda” and “Shrek” maker DreamWorks Animation, Chinese investment fund CMC Capital Partners, whose owners include state-owned companies, and Hong Kong developer Lan Kwai Fong, according to the AP.
“This will become the world’s third great urban center of entertainment and arts alongside New York’s Broadway and London’s West End,” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told a news conference, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“The Croods” Leads Weekend Box Office

What a difference three years and an deflated expectations make. Three years ago this weekend, Dreamworks had to eat a token amount of crow when How To Train Your Dragon opened with *just* $43 million.
Coming off the $59 million debut of Monsters vs. Aliens a year prior and elevated expectations due to the “new-found” popularity of 3D, the film was written off initially as a slight disappointment with the hopes that strong reviews and word-of-mouth would keep it alive. Of course, the film had insane legs and eventually ended up with $217 million domestic, but that’s another story.
Now, coming off the somewhat disappointing Rise of the Guardians ($303 million worldwide), a series of company lay-offs, and the delaying and/or cancellation of a few projects (like Me and My Shadow), Dreamworks is now trying to sell the (estimated as of this writing) $44 million debut of The Croods as a comeback and/or a massive win for the company.
But not only is this not a comeback, but I would argue that Dreamworks doesn’t have anywhere to come back from and that the perception of their failing after a single disappointing film is indicative of the fall-out of our obsession with rise/fall narratives where they don’t belong.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos

‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’ wins the weekend box office with $80 million

I’ve said this before, but one of the problems with modern box office analysis is that it treats studio tracking numbers, which are supposed to be internal figures that can be used to adjust marketing in the run up to release, as ironclad box office predictions.
More often than not, pundits use tracking in a way that creates a preemptive doom-and-gloom scenario where a new release is painted as a box office turkey before it even opens *or* its used to give unrealistic expectations to a new release so that studios are then forced to defend what is actually a solid debut. Such is the case with Oz: The Great and Powerful (trailer/posters).
The $215 million Disney prequel debuted with a strong $80.3 million this weekend. Alas, due to rumblings and arbitrary presumptions that the film would open with as much as $100 million over the weekend, mostly due to the project’s token similarities with Alice In Wonderland, Disney may now be forced to defend what is easily the biggest opening of 2013 by more than double and the third-biggest March debut ever behind Alice In Wonderland ($116 million) and The Hunger Games ($153 million).
To read more go to Mendelson Memos
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‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ breezy action-packed trailer

The only spoiler bit is at around 1:02, where Captain Pike has some facial scars that I don’t recall him having at the end of the first Star Trek (he was of course seriously injured, but I don’t recall scarring).
Perhaps Pike gets those scars when Cumberbatch escapes from his glass prison at the halfway mark, because “He planned to get caught the whole time!”. Otherwise, this is a quick (78 seconds) and breezy action-packed trailer.
It’s nice that they aren’t focusing as much on Benedict Cumberbatch’s mystery villain (I have a theory on that, broached by a friend of mine and backed up by what we’ve seen thus far, but I’m not sharing in case I’m right) and also showing off that the film isn’t all gloom and misery this time around. The initial trailers tried to sell the film as a generic ‘dark sequel’ or The Dark Knight meets Skyfall meets Revenge of the Sith.
This new trailer plays in the Return of the Jedi/Tron sandbox with phasers set for swashbuckling adventure.

To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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Early IMAX release of Tom Cruise’s ‘Oblivion’ cancelled

Having rather loathed Tron: Legacy, I’ve had to work myself up in order to get excited about Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion.
Yes, Tom Cruise usually makes sure that his big-scale pictures are a cut above and yes the film looks better with each trailer, but the biggest cause for hope was its release schedule. The film’s national release was set for April 19th, but the film was also going a full week early in IMAX only, giving paying audiences a week-long sneak preview in IMAX and other larger-screen formats. But alas, that promising move by Universal has been cancelled.
Chalk it up to Cruise wanting to do international press for the film’s overseas debut on the 12th and the film’s US debut on the 19th, chalk it up to Universal wanting an extra week of play for their 3D reissue of Jurassic Park on April 12th, but audiences will not be seeing Oblivion: The IMAX Experience one week early after all. Color me genuinely disappointed.

To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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My favorite film among those nominated is ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Argo is not my favorite film of the year. It didn’t even make my best-of-2012 list. It had to settle for the Runner-Ups section along with fellow nominee/front-runner Lincoln, a choice that caused no end of consternation from my mother-in-law who considers both to among her favorite films of 2012.
My favorite film of 2012 is Cabin In the Woods, a film that had about as much of a chance of winning Best Picture this year as Kung Fu Panda 2 did last year. My favorite film among those nominated is Zero Dark Thirty, which went from front-runner to also-ran after Sony made the financial choice to not fight back against the frankly shameful ‘this film endorses torture!’ arguments until after the film’s wide release.
There are a few films that are nominated that I don’t care for (Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook), but I’d have to say that if we’re picking a Best Picture on a the basis of what film most positively represents the year that was 2012, Argo is the best and most logical choice.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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“Mr. Peabody & Sherman” new release date is March 7

DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) today announced that, at the recommendation of its distributor, Twentieth Century Fox, it has decided to change the domestic theatrical release date for Mr. Peabody & Sherman to March 7, 2014. The film had previously been scheduled for release on November 1, 2013. Me & My Shadow, which had previously been scheduled for release in March of 2014, will now return to development at the studio.
“Our distributor, who has had great success in March with their Ice Age franchise, has recommended we move Mr. Peabody & Sherman to the spring of 2014, which we totally agree is a much more advantageous release window,” said Anne Globe, Chief Marketing Officer of DreamWorks Animation. “Mr. Peabody & Sherman is now the first of our three-picture lineup for next year.”
The Company’s feature film slate for 2013 and 2014 is now as follows: The Croods on March 22, 2013; Turbo on July 19, 2013; Mr. Peabody & Sherman on March 7, 2014; How To Train Your Dragon 2 on June 20, 2014 and Happy Smekday! on November 26, 2014.
“We believe the best strategy for DreamWorks Animation in the long run is to ensure that every one of our films has an optimal release date with the biggest opportunity to succeed at the box office,” added Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chief Executive Officer of DreamWorks Animation. “The move of Mr. Peabody & Sherman means that we will now release two films in 2013, and we are adjusting our operating infrastructure costs accordingly.”
About DreamWorks Animation
DreamWorks Animation creates high-quality entertainment, including CG animated feature films, television specials and series and live entertainment properties, meant for audiences around the world. The Company has world-class creative talent, a strong and experienced management team and advanced filmmaking technology and techniques. DreamWorks Animation has been named one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” by FORTUNE®Magazinefor five consecutive years. In 2013, DreamWorks Animation ranks #12 on the list. All of DreamWorks Animation’s feature films are produced in 3D. The Company has theatrically released a total of 25 animated feature films, including the franchise properties of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon and Puss In Boots.
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“Wreck-It Ralph” wins Best Animated Feature at Annie Awards

Disney’s ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ won the Best Animated Feature honor at the 40th Annual Annie Awards held Saturday, February 2 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. This year’s expanded list of categories topped 30, honoring many more nominees and team entries as in years past. New to the awards this year was the addition of the Best Student Film. A live streaming of the ceremony was made available again to animation enthusiasts as well as those who were unable to attend the event at
www.annieawards.org/watch-it-live. A complete list of winners can be viewed at www.annieawards.org.
The Best Animated Special Production was awarded to “Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem” (Illumination Entertainment); Best Animated Short Subject to “Paperman” (Walt Disney Animation Studios); Best General Audience Animated TV Production for Preschool Children “Bubble Guppies
‘A Tooth on the Looth’” (Nickelodeon Animation Studios); Best Animated Television Production
for Children “Dragons: Riders of Berk ‘How to Pick Your Dragon’” (DreamWorks Animation); Best General Audience Animated Television Production “Robot Chicken ‘DC Comics Special’” (Stoopid Buddy Studios); Best Animated Video Game “Journey” (Sony Computer Entertainment America);
and Best Student Film “Head Over Heels” (Timothy Reckart).
“What a great evening filled with a lot of fun and surprises,“ said ASIFA-Hollywood President Frank Gladstone. “A variety of individuals and studios participated and joined in celebrating the best in animation across project, studio and geographic boundaries.”
Former Annie Awards host and movie reviewer Leonard Maltin and voice actors Rob Paulsen and Maurice Lamarche shared hosting duties, along with a special appearance by long time Annies presenter-favorite, actor and animation industry professional, Seth Green.
Honored with the Winsor McCay award were Terry Gilliam, Oscar Grillo and Mark Henn. The Winsor McCay stands as one of the highest honors given to an individual in the animation industry in recognition for career contributions to the art of animation.
Howard Green was honored with the June Foray award which is presented to an individual who has given significant and benevolent contributions to the art and industry of animation, and Toon Boom Animation was honor with the Ub Iwerks award created and given to individuals or companies for technical advancements that make a significant impact on the art or industry of animation.
Often a predictor of the annual Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the Annie Awards honor overall excellence as well as individual achievement in a total of 30 categories ranging from best feature, production design, character animation, and effects animation to storyboarding, writing, music, editing [...]

“Ice Age 4″ tops with $46 million

HollywoodNews.com: It was the calm before the storm, with only one new wide release daring to debut the weekend before The Dark Knight Rises crushes everything in sight. That new release is 20th Century Fox’s Ice Age: Continental Drift (essay). So it is with little surprise that the fourth entry in Fox’s animation crown jewel, sadly the first terrible entry of the previously ‘not bad’ series thus far, was number one this weekend, nor is it little surprise that it debuted with an estimated $46 million. That’s a little low all things considered, but Fox couldn’t give two craps about domestic gross anyway.
None of the prior three Ice Age films have ever topped $200 million domestic, but that didn’t stop Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs from exploding overseas three summers ago and earning $690 million overseas for a $886 million worldwide total, good for the third-highest grossing overseas total ever at the time (it’s eighth today) and still the most lopsided foreign grosses (77%) for any movie grossing over $775 million total (removing European films like The Full Monty, European-targeted titles like The Adventures of Tintin, or Miyazaki releases, it’s still #7 overall). So yeah, this new film opened with “just $45 million”. Gasp(!), that’s below the $68 million debut of Ice Age: The Meltdown in 2006 ($82 million adjusted for inflation) and the $66 million Wed-Sun debut of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($41 million Fri-Sun), and right in line with the $46 million debut of Ice Age ($62 million adjusted for inflation). Despite the 3D bump (which the third film enjoyed as well), this fourth Ice Age film may struggle to top $150 million, putting it well below Ice Age ($176 million), Ice Age 2 ($195 million), and Ice Age 3 ($196 million). Oh well, it was already at $225 million overseas before it even opened in America, and it’ll surely be well over $300 million today with at least a $500-600 million worldwide total for the (comparatively cheap) $100 million animated feature. This is one franchise were America just doesn’t matter.
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“Brave” Hits Bullseye With $66.7 Million

HollywoodNews.com: Another year, another $60-$70 million Pixar opening weekend. Brave (review) is their thirteenth release, as well as their thirteenth number-one debut and their eighth film to open between $60 and $70 million since 2001. Brave, which attracted headlines due to the fact that it was Pixar’s first film with a female lead (and a female director until Brenda Chapman was replaced by Mark Andrews), opened with an estimated $66.7 million this weekend, putting it (for now) just above Cars 2′s $66.1 million debut and a bit below Up’s $68.1 million opening as the fifth-best debut in Pixar history.
Brave pulled in $24.5 million on Friday, which gives the film a 2.71x weekend multiplier, which is actually pretty low by Pixar standards. Still, it’s close enough to the 2.73x multiplier for Wall-E ($23m/$63m), the 2.68x weekend multiplier for Toy Story 3 ($41m/$110m), and the 2.64x weekend multiplier for Cars 2 ($25m/$66m) to avoid any alarm. Movies, even most animated ones, are just a bit more front-loaded these days and Pixar films tend to play like sequels in a popular franchise than stand-alone entries. In terms of total box office, there is always the chance that Brave could play like Cars 2, which (comparatively) flamed out with just 2.8x weekend-to-total multiplier ($191 million domestic) and end up below $200 million.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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