Brave - Last year, Pixar broke their $200 million winning streak with Cars 2. Cars 2 didn’t appeal to the adults and teenagers who normally attend Pixar films, because it lacked heart and it felt more like a toy commercial than anything. This is also why the film alienated family audiences. The film also had a hard time at the box office because of the typical parents who scream bloody murder when an animated film has content in it that isn’t always suitable for young children.
Brave probably won’t be bogged down by any of this. It’s a story rooted in the classic fairy tale tradition about a princess who is rebellious. If Pixar gave that classic story a twist, then it’s guaranteed to hit $200 million, but we don’t know that yet. Brave won’t be a romp that focuses more on comedy than the story, it won’t be a toy commercial and it won’t be a dull film. This film looks like every other Pixar film: Sophisticated, adult, well-made and it will also have something in it for everyone.
One thing that may hurt it (that is, if the film turns out to be another classic) is the content. Apparently Pixar is taking a different route with this medieval Scotland adventure. It’s supposed to be a dark fairy tale, much like the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales. That means it’ll probably garner a PG rating (a rating they rarely get for their films), which means that it’ll garner controversy from parents who assume a G/PG-rated animated film automatically means “good for the kids”. Unfortunately, there are a lot of parents like that out there. Just look at some Yahoo reviews for Rango and Cars 2 and see all the complaining about the content in those films.
Then again, there are tons of parents who take their children to see animated films that have violence or frightening material in them, and don’t complain at all. Brave will appeal to those audiences, plus Pixar’s fans and the adults. Cars 2 just couldn’t appeal to anyone, whether it was family audiences, the fans or casual movie goers. Also, people probably won’t avoid this film just because Cars 2 turned out to be a dud. If they do, then something’s wrong with them. Brave should gross at least $50 million on its opening weekend, and probably hit the usual target for a Pixar film ($60-70 million), and then pull a strong multiplier and hit $200 million with ease. There’s a 90% chance that it will do this. 10% chance the film turns out to be a disappointment and consequently underperforms, or it fails to appeal to its target audience: Everyone. I highly doubt Brave will fail in any of those departments, even if it’s not a masterful film but simply a good film. That’s something Cars 2 wasn’t. In order to miss $200 million, it has to be on par with Cars 2. I doubt that will be the case.
Ice Age: Continental Drift - The previous Ice Age film, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, was the lowest attended yet it was only 3 million tickets shy of its 2006 predecessor. By now, audiences probably won’t have much interest in another Ice Age film. Given the performances of recent four-quels (Shrek Forever After, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), I predict there will be a a big drop in attendance. Likewise, the final gross might be below $150 million. I don’t see this doing much harm to Pixar’s Brave, it’s possible family audiences might skip this and just see Brave instead.
A sub-$150 million gross won’t really matter to Blue Sky, because the film is probably going to clear $800 million worldwide anyway. It’ll be another gargantuan smash hit for Blue Sky, but my question is, will they keep making more? Or will they focus on more original projects? Their upcoming slate seems indicates that Ice Age will be over after this film.
ParaNorman - It’s a bit too early to predict what this film will make. Laika’s first animated film, Coraline, was a moderate success. It was a good film, and it was a Henry Selick film, so The Nightmare Before Christmas feel of the film was probably another reason it did well. Coraline was not a smash hit mega-blockbuster though, but again, neither was Nightmare back in 1993.
ParaNorman will probably perform the same way. Stop motion films don’t do well to begin with, but this will appeal to the Tim Burton crowd. I’d say it’ll gross somewhere around $70 million domestically.