UPDATE: ‘Puss In Boots’ Will Top $33.6M This Weekend, Jeff Katzenberg Predicts

UPDATE, 2:25 PM: DreamWorks Animation shares jumped all over the place in after-hours trading when the company reported its earnings — but settled at -2% as CEO Jeff Katzenberg discussed his expectations and plans. He Read More »

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Analyst: Is ‘Megamind’ Write-Off Now Looming For DreamWorks Animation?

By | Monday December 13, 2010 @ 8:42am PST

Well-known media analyst Richard Greenfield this morning issued a “sell” on DreamWorks Animation stock and lowered his price target to $25 from a previous $28. Because he said a Megamind write-off is now looming. “We continue to believe DWA … Read More »

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‘Megamind’ Overtakes ‘Unstoppable’ For #1; ‘Skyline’ And ‘Morning Glory’ Get No Traction

By | Saturday November 13, 2010 @ 10:31pm PST

SATURDAY PM: Sources just gave me estimated Top 10 North American grosses for Friday, Saturday, the weekend, and cumes. Analysis coming:

1. Megamind 3D (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) Week 2 [3,949 Theaters]
Friday $7.9M, Saturday $13.3M, Weekend $26M (-36%), Cume $88M

2. Unstoppable (Fox) NEW [3,207 Theaters]
Friday $8.1M, Saturday $9.9M, Weekend $23.5M

3. Due Date (Warner Bros) Week 2 [3,365 … Read More »

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UPDATE: #1 ‘Megamind’, #2 ‘Due Date’, #3 ‘For Colored Girls’ All Meet Expectations; Long Lines And Sell-Outs For ’127 Hours’

SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM WRITETHRU: It’s the start of the Holiday Moviegoing Season, so celebrate! The box office sure is, because this wound up a record first weekend in November for North America with the $155+ million total of all the movies (not corrected for inflation or ticket prices) passing the Industry record of $153M set in 2003. But with all 3 big newcomers meeting their opening weekend expectations, where’s the fun for cynical me? Meanwhile, Sony Pictures had a great summer, Warner Bros led with a successful early fall, and now Paramount Pictures is showing strength: In the last 4 weeks, the studio has released 3 different films all at #1 and all opening over $40 million in 3 different genres. Here are what my sources say are Friday’s and Saturday’s Top Ten grosses with weekend and cume numbers:    

1. Megamind (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount) NEW [3,944 Runs]
Friday $12.5M, Saturday $20.6M, Weekend $47.6M   

DreamWorks Animation toons, like Pixar’s, do reliably strong box office, even on Date Night, with a big Saturday kiddie matinee bounce. So there was considerable surprise among rival studios starting midday Friday when newcomer Megamind 3D‘s grosses looked underperforming despite its “A-” CinemaScore, usually successful formula of hip pop culture references, a typically aggressive marketing push, and a giant release into 3,944 theaters with 2,634 of them 3D-equipped. It was as if life were imitating art, since Megamind is the most brilliant supervillain the world has ever known — and the least successful. But the problem, it turned out, wasn’t the movie. Instead, I learned that AMC theaters was experiencing computing problems and had no grosses in the system, according to distributor Paramount. The studio knew the actual number would go higher: “There are no kids out of school. Looks like mid- to high-40′s, right where everyone expected,” a Paramount exec reassured me. And it has. It opened just ahead of the first 3-day weekend of the original Madagascar ($47.2M) which was only 2D and therefore had lower ticket prices, but also ahead of How to Train Your Dragon 3D which was regarded as weak because of its summer weekend gross of $43.7M. Megamind starring the voices of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Brad Pitt turns the superhero genre on its head so, naturally, the promotional campaign kicked off with a giant superhero event at LA Live where the record was set for the most superheroes ever gathered in one location. There also was a big tie-in with the World Series that featured Ferrell disguised as a character that looked remarkably like Marlon Brando’s Jor-El from 1978′s Superman. There also was an outreach on MTV for under age 25 moviegoers with Megamind auto tunes.   

2. Due Date (Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros) NEW [3,355 Runs]
Friday $12.2M, Saturday $13M, Estimated Weekend $33.5M   

Warner Bros’ Due Date, an unofficial reboot of John Hughes’ Planes Trains & Automobiles, opened this weekend almost exactly on target with what Hollywood expected from its wide release into 3,355 theaters. Audiences gave it a “B-” CinemaScore. The comedy starring Robert Downer Jr and Zach Galifianakis, who reteamed with his The Hangover director Todd Phillips, had been tracking on the high side of what an “R”-rated buddy comedy will do, and indeed Due Date fared almost exactly the same as The Other Guys starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg did in this genre over the summer. As usual, Warner Bros’ marketing czarina Sue Kroll promo’ed the heck out of the pic, with three different trailers and TV ads. The teaser trailer was launched with Inception in July, and the studio had a main trailer playing from September through release. WB capitalized on early opportunities with TV season premieres in September, and longer format media stunts (Downey singing “Looks Like We Made It”) that included heavy network, cable, NFL, Baseball/World Series, etc. There also was a strong WOM program that included military bases, college campuses, traditional radio, and national talk shows. As a result, Due Date generated well-balanced male and female support, capturing strong date crowd business, with its primary audience 17 and older. It also was one of those few R-rated comedy marketing that didn’t try to insult or gross out women. “The campaign sought to always capture the humor, but also ensure the tone was warm, likeable, even sweet at times — but always with outrageous comedy,’ a WB exec tells me. In the online/social media world, the studio used its existing Facebook Hangover fan page (8 million followers) to push Due Date content “giving us a much wider reach than we otherwise would have had to a perfectly targeted audience for the material,” the exec noted.   

3. For Colored Girls (Lionsgate) NEW [2,127 Runs]
Friday $7.4M, Saturday $7.9M, Weekend $20.1M

Lionsgate’s For Colored Girls at first looked like the R-rated drama was wildly overperforming Friday for an estimated $28M from 2,127 theaters when the Tyler Perry-directed film was only expected to gross $20M, the equivalent of its budget. Then again, it receiced an “A” CinemaScore from audiences. ”It’s performing more on a par with Tyler’s other films,” an excited Lionsgate exec prematurely gushed to me that afternoon. But the weekend grosses were not the phenom first thought. Still, they met expectations and, ”between Tyler’s loyal female following and the cross cultural and multi generational appeal of the work, the opening weekend is feeling like we made this an event, going beyond the core African-American audience,” an insider tells me. With actresses including Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg, Kimberly Elise, Phylicia Rashad, Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose, and Kerry Washington, Perry gave each the poetic monologues dealing with love, abandonment, rape, Read More »

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Walt Disney On ‘How To Train An Animator’

With DreamWorks Animation opening Megamind today, and Sony Pictures Animation just naming a new president, and Walt Disney Studios releasing Tangled shortly, and Universal/Illumination sending Despicable Me overseas, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences enforcing a November 1st deadline for 2010 Best Animated feature entries, it’s more relevant than ever to spotlight a letter written by Walt Disney in 1935 about the business of toon storytelling. The Drawn Blog (described as a daily source of inspiration for illustration, animation, cartooning, and comic art) recently drew attention to an 8-page Walt memo to Don Graham, a highly respected art teacher, about setting up art classes for Disney animators that would become the studio’s structured training program. That gave birth to the Golden Age of Animation, what with Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs released in 1937, and Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940.

The full memo is posted on the website, but I felt it was important to repeat it here as well. Because today’s toonmakers who place relentless hipness over emotional substance would do well to remember Walt’s words, especially about animation laughs: “Comedy, to be appreciated, must have contact with the audience. This we all know, but sometimes forget. By contact, I mean that there must be a familiar, sub-conscious association. Somewhere, or at some time, the audience has felt, or met with, or seen, or dreamt, the situation pictured. A study of the best gags and audience reaction we have had, will prove that the action or situation is something based on an imaginative experience or a direct life connection. This is what I mean by contact with the audience. When the action or the business loses its contact, it becomes silly and meaningless to the audience.”

WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS
INTER-OFFICE COMMUNICATION

DATE DECEMBER 23, 1935
TO DON GRAHAM
FROM WALT

Right after the holidays, I want to get together with you and work out a very systematic training course for young animators, and also outline a plan of approach for our older animators.

Some of our established animators at the present time are lacking in many things, and I think we should arrange a series of courses to enable these men to learn and acquire the things they lack.

Naturally the first most important thing for any animator to know is how to draw. Therefore it will be necessary that we have a good life drawing class. But you must remember Don, that while there are many men who make a good showing in the drawing class, and who, from your angle, seem good prospects – these very men lack in some other phase of the business that is very essential to their success as animators.

I have found that men respond much more readily to classes dealing with practical problems than to more theoretic treatment. Therefore I think it would be a very good idea to appeal to these men by conducting these classes with the practical approach in mind. In other words, try to show in these classes that the men can make immediate practical application of what they are being taught.

The talks given by Fergy, Fred Moore, Ham Luske, and Fred Spencer, have been enthusiastically received by all those in attendance. Immediately following these talks, I have noticed a great change in animation. Some men have made close to 100% improvement in the handling and timing of their work. This strikes me as pointing a way toward the proper method of teaching in the future.

The following occurs to me as a method of procedure:

Read More »

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OSCAR: Animation Entries Down To Wire; But Will There Be Enough For 5 Nominees?

Pete Hammond

Today the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences sent out a reminder confirming the 5 PM PT November 1st deadline for 2010 Best Animated feature entries. At this point there do not appear to be enough entries to trigger five nominations rather than the more common three but there is still time, brother. What wasn’t … Read More »

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‘Inception,’ Growth Bolster IMAX Earnings

The company’s solid third quarter was driven mainly by aggressive expansion as the large-screen format chain signed up 100 new theaters. Revenue jumped to $51.1 million from $43.5 million in the same quarter last year, and earnings rose to $6.7 million … Read More »

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DreamWorks Animation’s 3rd Quarter Boosted By ‘Shrek Forever After’

The film’s international rollout helped lift third quarter results for DreamWorks Animation. The company reported total revenue of $188.9 million and net income of $39.8 million, an increase over the same quarter last year (in which it registered revenue of … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Megamind’

Mike Fleming

Here’s the first five minutes of the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film Megamind, with Brad Pitt and Will Ferrell providing the lead voices:

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DreamWorks Animation Announces $150M Share Repurchase; Company Claims 2010 Will Be Biggest Box Office Year Yet

DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. today announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30th that shows profits declined 6.2%. Without a new home entertainment DVD in the marketplace, costs outpaced box office gains since the theatrical release of films is … Read More »

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Comic-Con #3: The ‘Megamind’ Panel

Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:

comicon 2010Director Tom McGrath is out first and says this is the first Dreamworks animated superhero movie. He always thinks the villains are the most fun, so he made a whole movie … Read More »

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Comic-Con 2010 Preview: Thursday, July 22


comicon 2010

THURSDAY, JULY 22

The Real Start Day Of The Con

Luke Y Thompson covers Hollywood events at the Con for Deadline:

10:00-11:00 AM: DreamWorks Animation: Megamind. I can’t say the posters for this new 3-D animated movie starring Will … Read More »

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Summit Stokes ‘Red’ And ‘Drive Angry 3D’ at Comic-Con

Mike Fleming

10-ridiculous-comic-con-costumes-800-75Summit Entertainment joins the phalanx of studios bringing film footage and star casts to the geek altar that is Comic-Con. Summit, which for the past two years has brought its Twilight Saga cast to the event, this time herds the cast … Read More »

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