Shares are up 4.3% in post-market trading after the studio reported that The Croods and library titles helped it to generate Q1 numbers far ahead of Wall Street’s expectations. DreamWorks Animation had net income of $6.1M, -32.6% vs the period last year, on revenues of $134.6M, +1.1%. Revenues were well ahead of the $99.4M consensus forecast. And earnings at 7 cents per share beat projections for 3 cents. The company says that The Croods, released on March 22, accounted for $4M in Q1 revenue. Rise Of The Guardians kicked in $9.6M, mostly from home entertainment, while video sales of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted added $22.8M and Puss In Boots added $7.5M. Classic Media properties added $27.9M. DWA says that it has spent $25M so far this year to repurchase 1.3M shares, and is authorized to spend an additional $100M. CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg thanked Fox, his company’s new distribution partner, for helped to get 2013 “off to an outstanding start.” COO Ann Daly adds that the studio “made great strikes to advance a number of key growth initiatives in the areas of franchise-building, consumer products, television and location-based entertainment.”
The film’s performance is a big deal for DreamWorks Animation investors following the $87M writedown the company took for its Christmas release Rise Of The Guardians. But Cowen and Co’s Doug Creutz this morning joins the growing ranks of company followers who say that they’re pleasantly surprised by the performance of The Croods, the comedy about a pre-historic family on a road trip. The analyst raised his international box office estimate nearly 44% to $308M. What’s more, he lifted his forecasts for the studio’s future films noting that DWA’s first release distributed by Fox provides “increased confidence” that the partnership “will meaningfully improve overseas performance.” Although Creutz continues flash a yellow light “neutral” for DreamWorks Animation as an investment, he lifted his earnings per share estimate for this year about 49% to 58 cents adding that his “bias on the stock is now leaning to the positive side.” The second-weekend performance of The Croods did a lot to reassure analysts. Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible raised his domestic box office estimate to $152M from $116M. Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker said that the weekend’s “low decay of 39.3%” from the opening weekend puts it “on track to beat our prior 6-week est. of $115.0M.”
#1 ‘The Croods’ Toons Up $108M Globally, #2 ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ Rises To $30.5M, Tina Fey & Paul Rudd Soft In ‘Admission’
SUNDAY 9:30 AM, 7TH UPDATE: Distributor Twentieth Century Fox is reporting that DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods made $63.3 million internationally — including $16 million from overseas previews the weekend before – for a worldwide cume of $108 million. Toon was playing on 11,870 screens in 47 markets and 86 countries representing 60% of the International marketplace. It was a confirmed #1 opening in 44 markets. Top market weekend Highlights included:
Russia: US$12.9M, including previews, from 2,166 screens. #1 in the market. 74% from 3D. Industry biggest non-franchise animated opening in Russia. Mexico: US$9.5M, including previews, from 1,911 screens. #1 in the market. 40% from 3D. Industry biggest non-franchise animated opening in Mexico. United Kingdom: US$8.3M, including previews, from 1,100 screens. #1 in the market. 45% from 3D. Germany: US$4.3M, including previews, from 986 screens. #1 in the market. 78% from 3D. Brazil: US$4.2M, including previews, from 674 screens. #1 in the market. 72% from 3D. Industry 2nd highest non-franchise animated opening in Brazil behind Rio. Spain: US$3.4M from 695 screens. #1 in the market. 20% from 3D. Italy: US$3.3M rom 788 screens. #1 in the market. 47% from 3D. Argentina: US$1.4M from 231 screens. #1 in the market. 60% from 3D. 3rd highest opening weekend ever for Fox in Argentina.
The Croods opens in 19 markets next weekend, including Australia, Belgium and Holland, followed by 3 markets (including Taiwan) the weekend of April 4, and then 3 more markets (including France) the weekend of April 12. School holidays start this week and next in many international markets.
SUNDAY 9:15 AM, 6TH UPDATE: (Top Ten list below) It shaped up as a hot weekend with an extra-strength Saturday and 3 films scoring $20M-plus this weekend. An estimated 13% of K-12 were on school break for the start of the Passover/Easter holidays so family fare ruled. Specifically, DreamWorks Animation‘s PG pre-historic newcomer The Croods (4,046 theaters, including over 3,000 in 3D) led the domestic box office with the widest release. It grossed $11.6M Friday and went up +67% because of the Saturday kiddue bump to $18.9M and an estimated $14.1M for a $44.7M weekend opening. Exit polling showed domestic demos were 57% female and 55% aged 25 and up. Its ‘A’ CinemaScore from audiences obviously helped word of mouth despite only 64% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes endangering its multiple. Pic cost $135M. Rival studios point out this is one of the softest of March openers from DreamWorks Animation and believe it could max out around $155M domestic. (2010′s How To Train Your Dragon also debuted to $43M and went on to make $217M all in - but its reviews were 98% positive.) Fact is that in recent years DWA’s films are badly trailing Pixar’s in terms of domestic openings and multiples – and Wall Street is taking note and depressing the share price of this publicly held company. (Katzenberg should blame himself: he personally lobbied theaters to drive up the price of 3D tickets beyond what parents are willing to pay now after the technology’s novelty wore off.) Distributor Twentieth Century Fox claims this is a “strong opening” for a non-sequel animated film and believe The Croods will really toon up for the next two weeks when kids are on vacation everywhere. Then again, this is the first DWA release by Fox after Jeffrey Katzenberg switched distribution from Paramount so all the execs are relentlessly upbeat. “Terrific opening for DreamWorks Animation/Fox and the beginning of a great partnership,” one suit gushed. Film isn’t exactly The Flintstones in terms of comedic campiness for animation, but TV ads succeeded in making this pic look pleasantly palatable to parents and kids. Directed by Chris Sanders & Kirk DeMicco, and produced by Kristine Belson and Jane Hartwell, voice cast includes Nic Cage, Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds none of whom are considered marquee names these days. About 25 overseas markets opened for previews last weekend but only 5 of the top markets (UK, Russia, Germany, Brazil, Mexico). Rival studios claim it’s telling that Fox kept the grosses quiet. But the studio says The Croods will add a big number this weekend to the $16M already in the international till.
Peter Schlessel’s FilmDistrict enjoyed its biggest distribution opening yet with #2 Antoine Fuqua’s R-rated action thriller Olympus Has Fallen (3,098 theaters). It grossed $10M Friday and $12.8M Saturday for $30.5M its first weekend. Pic scored an ‘A-’ with audiences which helped word of mouth. That’s a relief because the movie’s cost of $70M is one of the bigger budgets this small indiefilm company has ever released. Exit polling showed 53% male vs. 47% female, 73% aged 25 years and older. Plot of the White House takeover by terrorists is newly plausible considering sequester spending cuts meant the U.S. government couldn’t even afford White House tours anymore because of Secret Service staff shortages. No surprise that the film did publicity at the recent CPAC convention for conservative politicos. FilmDistrict acquired distrib rights from Avi Lerner’s Millennium Films which produced and financed. The film was tracking strongest with males ages 18-plus and overperformed its expected high teens. Director and producer Fuqua with Mark Gill assembled a solid cast of Gerard Butler (who also produced and desperately needed a box office hit), Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd, Robert Forster and Rick Yune for the script by credited writers Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt.
Disney’s holdover Oz The Great And Powerful (3,805 theaters) is still going strong at #3 with $5.7M Friday and a +80% Saturday kiddie bump of $10.2M for another $23M weekend and $178.5M cume. And #4 is Sony/TriStar’s holdover pickup The Call (2,507 theaters) with $8.7M weekend (-48% from a week ago) and $30.9M cume.
Right now for #5 is Focus Features’ Tina Fey/Paul Rudd new low-budget comedy Admission (2,160 theaters) which grossed $2M Friday and $2.7M Saturday for as soft as $6.4M this weekend. Audiences gave it a mediocre ‘B-’ CinemaScore which didn’t help. Exit polling showed the audience skewed older (47% over age 50, 63% over age 35) and 68% female and 81% Causasian and 63% college graduates. Oh, Tina, Tina, Tina. You’re the funniest woman on the small screen in my opinion. But Red States may be holding a grudge over your SNL Sarah Palin impressions. And surely you can do better on the big screen than pairing with Paul since he’s box office poison. Pic underperformed studio expectations and barely met the low end of tracking. Even Focus admits grosses are soft despite its middling release and modest $13M cost. Because it’s a $30M-plus P&A pricetag just to open any pic these days. Focus saw a weekend that not only starts the waiting period for college acceptance letters but also had few moviegoing options for adult females aged 25+. ”There is also an opportunity to play well through the next few weekends as the older end of our female target 35+ also tends to patronize films in the 2nd and 3rd weeks of release,” a Focus exec told me. Hard to believe this convoluted script based on the Jean Hanff Korelitz novel adapted by credited screenwriter Karen Croner was so clumsily directed by one of my favorites, Oscar nominee Paul Weitz (About A Boy, In Good Company) who also produced. Low-brow TV ads didn’t help the pic any by failing to hint at moments of poignancy no matter how misplaced. Meanwhile Fey, Weitz, and everything else about the film were tagged with poor reviews.
And #6 is A24′s Spring Breakers (1,104 theaters) in expanded but still small release. Quirky yet iconoclastic writer and director Harmony Korine’s R-rated hallucinatory dramedy stars James Franco with Disney/ABC Family princesses trying to shed their virginal images - Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hudgens – all with Korine’s wife Rachel hellbent on a Florida vacation to the dark side. It scored the top limited opening of 2013 last weekend based on per screen averages from 3 theaters in NYC and LA. But it’s no arthouse film nor Beach Blanket Bingo. Instead this cheaply made ($4M cost) seamy sexploitation encouraging drinking and drugs and violence is from the distribution outfit backed by Guggenheim Partners which owns The Hollywood Reporter and made sure the celebrity sheet cravenly hyped every angle of the lurid film and its cast and their SXSW appearance and theatrical opening. A24 acquired domestic rights from Annapurna Pictures whose Megan Ellison tellingly didn’t take a producer credit. (Was she too embarrassed?)
The weekend is way down (-33%) from last year because the Top Ten total won’t even equal the $152.5M opening of The Hunger Games. Based on weekend estimates:
It’s hard to recall the last time a studio had so much riding on the performance of a single film. Following the $87M writedown for Rise Of The Guardians, and other setbacks, DreamWorks Animation is “a very hated stock on Wall Street,” Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible says. Short-sellers control about 24% of the outstanding shares. Just one analyst rates it a strong buy while five rate it “hold” and five classify it as either “sell” or “underperform.” Investors question whether the company can thrive as the market for family fare becomes more competitive. Since DWA only releases about two films a year, there are few opportunities to shape the company’s story. That leads us to The Croods: The consensus among analysts is that the film will generate a little north of $40M at domestic box offices this weekend, ultimately leading to a gross of $160M domestically and $290M abroad. “If they do below $40M, then people will be disappointed,” Wible says. “And north of $50M will be really good for these guys.” The Street’s cautiously optimistic. DWA shares are up 9.8% over the last month. Here’s a sampling of analysts’ estimates and commentary while they wait for the results:
Listen to (and share) episode 18 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Our awards columnist and host David Bloom discuss Hollywood in the age of conglomerates; TV with a conscience and this week’s notable films, including The Croods, Olympus Has Fallen, Admission and Starbuck. Pete also talks about Mad Men, whose Season 6 premiere party he attended, what to expect from this season, and what the show’s Emmy prospects this year might be.
Listen to (and share) Episode 27 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman as our Executive Editor and host David Bloom look at Crood attempts to revive the sagging shares of DreamWorks Animation; brightening numbers for two of the biggest exhibition chains; and what it might mean for Los Angeles and the entertainment business as a whole now that live-entertainment and sports giant AEG is off the market, and its long-time CEO has departed.
The stock rose 8.4% today after Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil upgraded his recommendation to “hold” – mostly due to his view that The Croods will generate solid box office sales after its March 21 opening. His tracking suggests that domestic ticket buyers will spend $50M on the DreamWorks Animation film in its opening weekend, which could propel it to total theatrical sales of $150M. That’s a little below Wall Street’s expectation for $160M. But investors may be pleasantly surprised by international sales. Croods will be “the first new film under the Fox distribution deal,” he says, and the News Corp-owned studio is especially strong overseas. Mogil forecasts $300M in international box office sales. If he’s right then investors’ fear that DreamWorks Animation will be hit with a second consecutive disappointment after Rise Of The Guardians will have “largely played itself out.” Indeed, he says that CEO Jeff Katzenberg’s $87M write-down for the Christmas release was “kitchen-sink in depth” which means it could “actually generate some marginal contribution” to the bottom line.
Studio moguls always feel that they need their tentpole releases to succeed. But they rarely have as much riding on a single film as DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg will on March 22 when he releases The Croods. His company’s dreary Q4 financial report yesterday, which included an $87M writedown on its Christmas release Rise Of The Guardians, set the stage. If The Croods is a success, then investor concerns about the company “will fade,” Lazard Capital Markets Barton Crockett says. But a miss “would amp concerns about a creative crisis, and the big cash drain that results when movies misfire.” Good box office sales may not be good enough. Barclays’ Chris Merwin says the company needs “an exceptional performance” — he expects Croods to generate $150M domestically, and $300M overseas. Forecasts like his are important for investors who are wondering whether this is a good time to buy DreamWorks shares — which are down 3.4% so far today, and -26% since November 2 when it hit a 52-week high of $21.99. In Wall Street terms, the company seemed to take a “bath” yesterday with its Q4 report. It took $165M in writedowns, resulting in a far bigger than expected loss.
Here’s a clip from DreamWorks Animation‘s latest pic that just screened out of competition at the Berlin Film Festival. The prehistoric adventure is written and directed by Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders (co-director of How To Train Your Dragon and Lilo & Stitch) and the voice cast includes …
Berlin Film Festival Unveils First Competition Titles; DreamWorks Animation’s ‘The Croods’ Gets Out-Of-Competition World Premiere
The Berlin Film Festival has named the first titles slotted to compete at the 63rd running of the event in February. They include the world premiere of the latest film in Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise series and the international premiere of Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land with, and written by, Matt Damon and John Krasinski. DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods will also get a world premiere, out of competition. This year’s fest runs February 7-17. The full list is below and includes the first Berlinale Special selection:
By Sebastián Lelio
With Paulina García, Sergio Hernández
Nugu-ui Ttal-do Anin (Nobody’s Daughter Haewon)
Republic of Korea
By Hong Sangsoo
With Eunchae Jung, Sunkyun Lee
Paradies: Hoffnung (Paradise: Hope)
By Ulrich Seidl
With Melanie Lenz, Vivian Bartsch, Joseph Lorenz, Michael Thomas
The Croods - March 22, 2013
Turbo – July 19, 2013
Mr. Peabody & Sherman - November 1, 2013
Me And My Shadow – March 14, 2014
How To Train Your Dragon 2 – June 20, 2014
Happy Smekday! – November 26, 2014
The Penguins Of Madagascar – March 27, 2015
Trolls (working title) – June 5, 2015
B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations – November 6, 2015
Mumbai Musical (working title) – December 19, 2015
Kung Fu Panda 3 – March 18, 2016
How To Train Your Dragon 3 – June 18, 2016
DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods, previously scheduled for March 1, 2013, will now be released on March 22, 2013.