Rise of the Guardians - When this comes out, it’ll be two years since DreamWorks made a film that wasn’t a sequel or a spin-off. Rise of the Guardians looks like it might be another surprise success, much like How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. This would make it the third non-sequel DreamWorks film to gross $200 million at the domestic box office.
It’s obvious that DreamWorks has been ramping up their ambitions since Kung Fu Panda. Instead of irreverant comedies with countless pop culture jokes with a sarcastic tone, we’ve been getting more serious films like How to Train Your Dragon along with films that focus more on the story than the jokes. While there a few comedies inbetween (Megamind, Madagascar 3), we’re also getting films like Dragon. From the looks of it, Rise of the Guardians might be another Dragon-like film.
DreamWorks’ films haven’t had great opening weekends since How to Train Your Dragon, which is why they struggle to get to $200 million. Dragon got there because it had a rare 5x multiplier, something animated films barely get. Word of mouth is what helps these films in the long run, but with low opening weekend grosses, $200 million is ultimately out of the question. Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots should’ve hit that mark by all means. Rise of the Guardians may have a smaller opening weekend as well, but it is opening before Thanksgiving and it doesn’t have much family-friendly competition.
Thus, I expect the film to pull an incredibly large multiplier. It’ll do so because it’s a holiday release, and it seems like the perfect holiday film for the whole family. Sony and Aardman’s Arthur Christmas couldn’t take off last year, but this’ll definitely take off. The opening weekend gross should be no less than what Puss in Boots pulled in. With a strong multiplier, $200 million will not be too hard to reach. A total like that will prove that films with good storytelling (if this film ends up being great) are what works, not forgettable comedies.
In the mean time, DreamWorks will probably keep their international hit franchises going while using that dough to support projects like this, Me and My Shadow, Truckers, Boo U, Rumblewick, etc. Their upcoming slate doesn’t include too many sequels anyway, so it’s an indicator that DreamWorks has other ideas for the future. We may look back on Panda and Dragon (along with the home video sales) as the very films that made this possible.