Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Another DreamWorks Switcheroo
Surprise surprise, DreamWorks' slate changed again!
DreamWorks reported on their Pitch Engine that Home and The Penguins of Madagascar have switched places...
The Penguins of Madagascar will now be arriving on November 26, 2014 while Home hits theaters the following spring on March 27, 2015. Kind of an abrupt change, because a teaser/short film for Home was attached to Mr. Peabody & Sherman...
You know what? I'm glad they made this change.
Home, I feel, will fare better as a spring release. There are no big animated films coming out in April 2015 yet, so DreamWorks probably feels that if the film opens low at the box office, it can at least pull a How To Train Your Dragon or Croods.
What do I mean by that?
Well, How To Train Your Dragon opened on the last weekend of March back in 2010 with an okay $43 million. It was deemed a disappointment by some and a little doom and gloom followed because the film wasn't a monster hit on opening weekend. But then something happened...
How To Train Your Dragon had no major competition until mid-May, when DreamWorks released Shrek Forever After. It literally had all of April and most of May to itself, thus word of mouth spread around. People found out how good the movie was, and soon it flew up to the $200 million domestic benchmark. It scored an extremely rare 5x multiplier, it was a sleeper hit through and through. Not too many movies that open with around $43 million are lucky enough to even make more than $150 million!
Three years later, The Croods opened in the mid-March spot. It opened with $43 million, and doom and gloom once again ensued because the DreamWorks film released before it happened to do poorly. However, something happened... There was no major competition released in April 2013 or even May 2013, not until Epic opened on Memorial Day weekend. But by the time that film came out, word of mouth spread and The Croods hung on at the box office. It grossed an impressive $187 million domestically.
This year's March DreamWorks film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, wasn't so lucky. Its legs were just okay compared to other spring animated films, and it had competition like Muppets Most Wanted and Rio 2 in its way. The film grossed a paltry $109 million domestic so far, and its worldwide grosses aren't saving it either. It opened low because Fox's marketing campaign just didn't work, the film looked like a generic kids flick. Many moviegoers didn't have a major desire to go out and see it. Had there been a little less competition, it would've had stronger legs. Word of mouth was supposedly good, after all. The film is said to be pretty good, too.
DreamWorks' higher ups are probably unsure about Home, whose trailer/short wasn't greeted with much enthusiasm. Since it won't face any major animated competition until the release of Paramount Animation's Monster Trucks on May 29th, they probably figured that the March 27th date was perfect for the film. It'll have all of April to itself and pretty much all of May, Avengers: Age of Ultron won't pose a problem because it would've already pulled good legs all throughout April if it didn't open with too much.
November was simply crammed: Blockbusters like The Hobbit 3 and family-fare like Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Big Hero 6 would've posed a problem, too. Now remember, I don't think animated films cannibalize each other at the box office, but sometimes animated films dip when a new animated film comes out. This is most likely due to the loss of screens (3D screens as well), but the movies still hold on afterwards. The problem is, the drops mean a lower gross in the long run.
Releasing Home in a less crowded area means that it could pull in a good amount domestically, if the overseas box office can't really save it. DreamWorks' originals need to fare as well as their sequels. Giving Home this kind of release date, I think, saved it from potentially being another money-loser.
The Penguins of Madagascar on the other hand should do just fine. The series is well-known, so it's not like it's a risky original going up against big November/December blockbusters, plus this gives the crew time to evaluate Home and correct any story problems if there are any. Oh... And change the title! You have enough time to do that, too. Back to Happy Smekday!
What do you think of this switch? Are you happy about this? Sound off below!