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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 talked up Puss In Boots, predicting that it will set a record this weekend by generating more than $33.6M at box offices — that’s the previous high for a pre-Halloween release. “Anything beyond that goes into the ‘win’ column,” he says. Much of the revenue will come from sales of high-priced tickets for the 3D version. “Almost every review (of the movie) singled out the quality of the 3D experience,” Katzenberg says. “It’s meaningful.” He provided few details about his recent agreement to offer his films to Netflix instead of HBO in the premium TV window but calls the new arrangement “historic” for DreamWorks as well as “the industry as a whole.” Katzenberg was equally vague about the company’s thoughts about negotiating a new distribution deal to replace the one with Paramount that expires at the end of next year. “We will be considering all our distribution options starting in spring of 2012,” he says adding that he expects to have something in place next summer. Katzenberg says that DreamWorks has paid about $700M in distribution fees for 11 movies that generated $5.5B at worldwide box offices, and $10B from sales in all venues.

Asked about the changes in his employment contract, Lew Coleman … 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 shares are overvalued,” Greenfield says. “Our original short thesis was premised on 2011 consensus expectations being far too high. However, we now believe 2010 estimates need to come down as well. Both Megamind box office results and Shrek Forever After DVD sales are meaningfully underperforming expectations…

“We believe a $0.20-$0.25 write-off of Megamind is possible in calendar Q4, which could further reduce our 2010 EPS estimate. A Megamind write-off would also have a modest negative impact on our revised 2011 EPS estimate (as DVD earnings would not generate profits in 2011)… With Megamind finishing its domestic box office run, the film is struggling to get to our revised, below consensus $149M estimate (currently at $140M).

“Overseas, Megamind’s box office is far worse on a relative basis to prior DWA films, with only $67M of box office to-date. While the film has several markets left to open, the only major markets left are France, Mexico, Italy, Japan and the Nordic region. In the UK, through two weeks of release, Megamind has generated only $7M of box office, compared to $15M for How to Train Your Dragon, $17M for Monsters vs. Aliens. We are … 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 Theaters]
Friday $5.5M, Saturday $6.6M, Weekend $16M (-51%), Cume $59.5M

4. Skyline (Relativity/Universal) NEW [2,880 Theaters]
Friday $4.7M, Saturday $4.4M, Weekend $12M

5. Morning Glory (Paramount) NEW [2,518 Theaters]
Friday $3M, Saturday $4M, Weekend $9.4M, Cume $12M

6. For Colored Girls (Lionsgate) Week 2 [2,127 Theaters]
Friday $2M, Saturday $3.2M, Weekend $6.8M (-65%), Cume $31M

7. Red (Summit) Week 5 [2,878 Theaters]
Friday $1.5M, Saturday $2.2M, Weekend $5M, Cume $79.7M

8. Paranormal Activity 2 (Paramount) Week 4 [2,403 Theaters]
Friday $1M, Saturday $1.3M, Weekend $3M, Cume $82M

9. Saw 3D (Twisted Pictures/Lionsgate) Week 3 [1,976 Theaters]
Friday $970K, Saturday $1.3M, Weekend $2.9M, Cume $43.6M

10. Jackass 3D (MTV Films/Paramount) Week 5 [1,607 Theaters]
Friday $775K, Saturday $1M, Weekend $2.3M, Cume $114.7M

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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 mentioned in the release is the number that have been received so far at the Academy. A really good clue though is a  letter I have learned that was  sent late last week updating members and potential members of the Animation committee (the ones doing the voting)  and informing them that 14 entries had been received but that it was still possible to reach 16, the magic number needed to expand the category. Last year a flurry of last minute entries flooded the Acad offices and Oscar ‘toon watchers were hoping the same might miraculously happen this year. Academy rules state that in any year with 8 to 15 eligible entries there will be three nominations allowed but if it’s 16 or more there will be five contenders, as has happened twice (including last year) since the  category was created in 2001 when Dreamworks’ Shrek became the first winner.

Dreamworks Animation has only won once  since then (for releasing 2005’s Wallace & Gromit in The Curse Of The Were Rabbit) and is back in the game big time this year with its March release, How To Train Your Dragon but would also love to see its upcoming  Megamind (Nov 5) in the … 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 from $1.1 million. With no Avatar, Inception was the big draw; the film grossed $50 million, making it the fourth highest grossing title in the company’s history. The 4th quarter should be strong as releases include Warner Bros’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Disney’s Tron: Legacy and Megamind from DreamWorks Animation. In its report, the company stressed three future initiatives: brand marketing, differentiation through technology and reinvestment.

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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 $135.4 million and net income of $19.6 million). Shrek Forever After, which was released on May 21, contributed $120.4 million of revenue in the quarter, mainly from overseas. In total, it grossed $238 million domestically and $497 internationally, making it the company’s highest ever international performer. In the 4th quarter, DreamWorks Animation will be releasing Megamind on November 5 and Shrek Forever After on DVD and Blu-ray on December 7. How To Train Your Dragon was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 15.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Megamind’

By | Sunday October 17, 2010 @ 7:22am PDT
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 the most expensive time of their sales cycle. Total revenue was $158.1 million and net income of $24.0 million, or $0.27 per share on a fully diluted basis. “Our strong second quarter was driven primarily by the blockbuster performances of Shrek Forever After and How to Train Your Dragon, two of the top 10 films of 2010 on both a domestic and a worldwide basis,” said CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. “We have once again surpassed $1 billion in worldwide box office and with Megamind still to be released on November 5th, we are on track to make 2010 not only DreamWorks Animation’s single biggest year at the box office, but also the biggest year ever for any CG animation studio.”

The Company also announced today that its Board of Directors has approved a new $150 million share repurchase program. For the six months ended June 30, 2010, the Company has repurchased approximately 3.1 million shares for approximately $111 million. I’ve previously reported that Katzenberg has been shopping DWA to several Big Media companies.

Shrek Forever After, which was released on May 21, 2010, contributed $51.8 million of revenue in the quarter, generated by its domestic box office performance as well as merchandising and licensing … 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 about the villain. He also mentions that at Comic-Con the villain costumes are the most fun too…

On cue, out comes Will Ferrell, painted blue, in a spandex Megamind costume, with a huge blue helmet that still has a barcode sticker on it. He’s carrying a box of 6 donuts. “I brought breakfast. I didn’t expect this many people.”

Now out comes Tina Fey, who also has donuts: 7-Select mini-donuts, in fact, which are the 7-11 brand. “Whomever I met at the hotel last night, you left your Admiral Ackbar costume in my room. I just wanna know if I can keep it.”

Adds Ferrell, appropriately, “It’s a trap!” Says he thought everyone on the panel was going to come in costume. Fey replies: “I did. My character’s a normal person.”

And here’s Jonah Hill! Now time to show a clip.

Unlike the trailer, which I found surprisingly funny (because the poster looked horrible to me, but the Superman spoofery plays well in the footage), this doesn’t have the origin story. Both Megamind and his arch-enemy, the heroic Metro Man (Brad Pitt) are the last sons of dying planets. But one is an arch-villain in large part due to his alien looks, while square-jawed Metro … 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 Ferrell were particularly appealing. A hybrid Smurf-Martian thing with a goatee, and, one imagines, Ferrell doing the same voice he always does? Not super-exciting. But the recently released trailer made things look up a bit – Ferrell’s character is the last son of a dying planet like Krypton, who learns in short order that a far more Superman-like character (Brad Pitt) has a similar story, and made it to Earth first. Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Jonah Hill will be in attendance, and there are rumors Pitt may even make a surprise appearance, but don’t hold us to that. Hall H

10:30-11:30 AM: Danny Elfman. Everybody loves Danny Elfman. Right? Even if you think that faux-lullabye-over-brooding thing he does has gotten stale, I guarantee that you love at least one soundtrack he’s done, whether it be the TALES FROM THE CRYPT intro, 1989 BATMAN theme, those infernal NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS songs, or my personal fave, the PE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE music. It’s been 25 years since that movie teamed him with Tim Burton for the first time, so instead of sending him an anniversary card, you can just show up here and listen to him speak. Room 6BCF

10:30-11:30 AM: TheOneRing.net Talks The Hobbit movies. Considering there isn’t … 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 of its two upcoming action offerings, Red and Drive Angry 3D. Red stars Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban and Mary Louise Parker, director Robert Schwentke and graphic novel writer Warren Ellis will debut the film’s trailer and appear on a panel on July 22. The following day, Summit will assemble the Drive Angry 3D cast of Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner and director Patrick Lussier will debut footage from the 3D shot film about a vengeful father who hunts down the people who killed his family.

Among the other studios that are planning big events at Comic-Con, Disney is highlighting Tron Legacy, and is expected to mount a big spectacle (last year they recreated Flynn’s Arcade, which figured in the original film and the sequel); Sony will make a fuss about The Green Hornet; Warner Bros is expected to vamp the Zack Snyder-directed Sucker Punch and Harry Potter; Universal will be pressing the case for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World; Paramount has the Marvel Studios pic Thor. DreamWorks Animation is expected to show something from Megamind, and other studios are still making last minute plans for the San Diego event that begins July 21.

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