Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bits Journal #26

Early reports are suggesting that the teaser for Avengers: Age of Ultron will be ready by early November, so that it can be attached to both expected-to-be-smash Interstellar (directed and written by Christopher Nolan, 'nuff said) and Disney's own fall 2014 release, Disney Animation's Big Hero 6!

That really seems to line up, because it's the best of both worlds: It can be seen before a massive blockbuster and a big new Disney animated event that's based on a Marvel comic, and then that trailer will be unspooling before the even bigger flicks to come…

The BoxTrolls opened to $17 million, which is not a great opening, but it is the biggest for a LAIKA film to date. Coraline was originally the top opener, with $16 million. Again, it is no milestone, but if the film has legs like ParaNorman, it'll gross well over $60 million domestically. I want this to make as much as it can, for stop-motion's sake. I haven't seen the film yet, but when I do, expect a review on here as always.

Speaking of reviews, it scored a lower percentage than its Portland predecessors, but it garnered a solid 72%. Some reviews have picked apart the story and script, others say it's not that good just because it's not as ambitious as LAIKA's first two films (does that make it weaker? Hell no. It's like Pixar, not every film they make has to be something like Ratatouille or WALL-E. What should matter in my eyes is the storytelling in the film.), and some reviews complained about the film being too ugly. Okay, does every animated film have to have cute or appealing Disney/Pixar-wannabe characters? C'mon, why are these specific critics wincing at different styles? Animation's all about that! Comments like "it's too ugly!", I think, are detrimental and a tad condescending. Animation needs to grow, people need to embrace different styles and different kinds of character design. Quit telling the medium to be used for thing, people.

For the record, I love the look of the whole thing. The characters aren't "ugly" at all…

I'll have to see for myself, but I have a feeling I'll get a lot out of it.

Back in April 2013, Sony had announced that a film based on Insomniac's long-running game series Ratchet and Clank was in the works. We even got a fun little teaser trailer the day it was announced! They also mentioned that they were gunning for an early 2015 release…

And now it's September 2014, not too far from the first quarter of 2015. We got a full trailer from Sony at E3, which suggested that it's close to completion and that it will in fact be a big theatrical release… But I heard no reports of the trailer being shown in theaters. The film right now holds no official release date, and we've heard very little outside of a few things.

It makes me wonder… Will this be a very limited theatrical release? Or will it end up going to straight to home media? Because at this point, it seems kind of late to ink in a release date. February 2015 and March 2015 are taken up by big animated releases SpongeBob 2 and Home, and Weinstein intends to release Argentinian animated film Foosball (here it's titled Underdogs, blah) in January, which this film could open against - but that would probably hurt Foosball because I want a foreign animated feature to do well enough here. Is Sony expecting a box office success out of this film? Or is it just a throwaway to them? Who knows, who knows…

All I know is this: I want this to be theatrical. I'm sure many others do. The big question is, will it end up hitting theaters this coming year? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps it'll be delayed, maybe Sony just doesn't know when to release it at the moment because they may be considering its box office potential.

But of course the biggest news of the week… And possibly the year in a way… Concerns DreamWorks.

Yes that's right, Jeffrey Katzenberg is reportedly "in talks" to sell the studio to SoftBank, a Japanese internet corporation. The price tag? $3.4 billion… It'll most likely go through. What's to come of this if it does happen? Well, I think Katzenberg has been making some good decisions as of late. He's acting like a late 1940s/early 1950s Walt Disney. Walt knew he couldn't get by on just expensive animated films and shorts, so he diversified: TV, theme parks, live-action films… Katzenberg has done just that: Theme parks, Netflix, Chinese animation and live-action productions, etc.

Obituaries for DreamWorks keep being written by the bloodthirsty press, which has become incredibly annoying. I get it, Rise of the Guardians, Turbo and Mr. Peabody & Sherman lost money despite all three getting decent-to-good reviews. But the company has built a bigger bottom line, they're not going to go under, they are not on the brink of death. They have films like The Croods and How To Train Your Dragon 2 which do catch on with audiences and make money. Dragon 2 may have disappointed here, but worldwide it has collected quite a bit.

I had rambled about DreamWorks' issues before and what I think the studio should do, so I'll leave it at that… I'm curious to see what comes from this move, and I hope that whatever happens, the company benefits from it. What do you think?


  1. Dreamworks is nothing. Have you heard of the rumors that Time Warner might be up for acquisition? After they turned down an $80 billion bid from Rupert Murdoch this July, there's been speculation that someone else might try. Candidates proposed have included Apple, Google, AMC owner Wang Jianlin, and, believe it or not, Disney! It should be noted that none of these have actual plans to acquire Time Warner--they simply have ability to should they wish to in the near future.

  2. About The Boxtrolls, did you hear that Nike has limited edition shoes inspired by that film? I heard that Nike has done a lot of limited edition shoes based on Laika's movies.

    1. Yeah, they did the same for 'Coraline' and 'ParaNorman'. They probably do this because Travis Knight, the CEO, is the son of Nike's founder.