Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recent Ramblings

Not really much of a bits journal. The number of posts has been low, I apologize, but anyways...

Big Hero 6 continues its steady run to $200 million domestic. It now sits at $190 million, dropping a solid 41% this weekend. Around this same time, Wreck-It Ralph dipped 43%, and it was at $171 million. At this rate, Big Hero 6 should finish up with around $210 million domestically, which is great. Big Hero 6 had two family flicks to face this weekend, and it held quite well. Night at the Museum tres and Annie ought to have good holiday legs, but Big Hero 6 should do fine in the long run.

Overseas, I think it'll make more than $280 million. Wreck-It Ralph scored $281 million, so I can see this going a little higher... If not significantly higher. I think this film is passing $500 million at the end of the day. Again, hooray for Walt Disney Animation Studios' new streak of box office successes.

Speaking of which, the Blu-ray will hit stores on February 24, 2015. Old news, I know, but the release date is a bit interesting because the other recent November Disney Animation releases were released on Blu-ray in March. I guess Disney felt the need to give it to us a little earlier than expected, but hey, I can't complain!

Penguins of Madagascar on the other hand is unfortunately not holding up all that well. It's now behind Rise of the Guardians in terms of the weekend-to-weekend performance. At this point, the 2012 film was at $71 million, Penguins currently sits at $64 million. It looks like the film will finish up with around $90 million, or maybe even less, it depends. No more family competition after this week's offering, so maybe it has a chance to gain some momentum. More obituaries are being written, but I can still see the overseas markets saving this. Penguins is doing very well in China, but it still has to open in quite a few territories. Some grosses aren't even posted yet, as it recently opened in several European countries. Again, I still see a $300 million+ overseas total for this film. A final $380 million minimum gross is fine for this movie.

There's still no movement on the DreamWorks front in terms of release dates. B.O.O. and Boss Baby are currently in the "to be determined" zone, even though the former is set to come out next year. Some people have assumed that B.O.O. was going to be delayed to 2016, but I can't see that happening. I keep saying mid-October 2015.

DreamWorks seems to be kind of a slouch when it comes to changing release dates for their films. It took them way too long to finally move Kung Fu Panda 3 away from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I wouldn't be surprised if they wait until early next year to move B.O.O.

Maybe DreamWorks is working on being a little more tight-lipped about future releases. I assume that right now, the studio is putting all of their focus on Home. It's an original, it cost more than $130 million to make, maybe DreamWorks is quietly working hard on bringing their budgets down and helping their films do better. I for one think that Home looks decent, despite what the doom-and-gloom brigade is saying, so it'll be interesting to see how it does. It could either pull a Croods or it could pull a Guardians, I don't think we can predict this film's future.

I just remember back in fall 2012, there was a lot of pre-release hate for The Croods. Articles everywhere talking about how hideous the character designs were, how cliche it looked, how it looked like a rip-off of another recent animated film based on one shot from the teaser, and so on. You would've thought that DreamWorks had a bomb in the making. Rise of the Guardian tanking didn't help, either! But look what happened: The general public responded with their wallets, it opened well, held on, made nearly $600 million worldwide. A sequel is coming, along with a TV series. You... Never... Know...

Unless you have, well, a time machine or something. I'm gonna need proof of that, though.

The Oscars are getting closer, and I've revised my predictions a bit.

I still think that The Lego Movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and Big Hero 6 are locks. Those will be the mainstream nominees, nominee #4... At this point, I'm starting to doubt that The Tale of Princess Kaguya will easily get nominated.

The only Japanese animated features to get Best Animated Feature nominations are Hayao Miyazaki films: Spirited Away in 2002 (and it won), Howl's Moving Castle in 2005, and The Wind Rises last year. 2009 was the first time the category saw more than three nominees since 2002, but yet Ponyo didn't get in when it easily could've... But to be fair, 2009 was an incredibly strong year. A lot of good mainstream hits, a lot of smaller films...

This year, the big animated offerings have been critically successful. I wouldn't be surprised if Kaguya doesn't make it in, because films like The Boxtrolls, The Book of Life, Mr. Peabody & Sherman and a few others got good reception. But I wouldn't rule Kaguya getting the nom out entirely.

Here's what I see for now...

Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
The Lego Movie
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea

Lego and Dragon 2 seem to be getting the raves from the critics circles, suggesting that one of those two will end up taking home the little gold man. I've put Song of the Sea in the predictions because usually at least one indie gets a nod, unless it's a year where a majority of the mainstream offerings are strong. We've seen this happen before, such as in 2008 when all three of the nominees came from the big studios. In 2012, we had three biggies (all from Disney) and two small films (one from LAIKA, one from Aardman), but no really small-release pics. No little Secret of Kells or Ernest and Celestine-type films that open in less than 500-1,000 theaters.

Anyways, that's what I think will happen. We'll see, come next month...

Turner Classic Movies, as many of you probably know, has ran a block called 'Treasures from the Disney Vault' last night. Leonard Maltin himself co-hosted this block with TCM's Ben Mankiewicz, and I hope it's a sign of good things to come.

For those who didn't or weren't able to tune in, they showed three classic Disney shorts (Silly Symphony Santa's Workshop, On Ice, and Chip 'n Dale), the very first episode of the Disneyland TV series, and three live-action films: Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, The Vanishing Prairie, and Third Man on the Mountain...

On the one hand, I'm a bit disappointed that Disney has to have someone else show what they should be showing through their own channels/streaming services. Disney of course is way different than it was a couple decades ago, when they actually put their more out-of-the-way stuff front and center. Disney Channel used to show live-action Disney classics, TV programs, episodes of the anthology shows, and several other things. Vault Disney, anyone? Nowadays, as we all know, Disney is all about plugging the most popular stuff while everything else just languishes. Frozen this! Pixar that! Marvel this! Star Wars that! Disney Channel sitcoms this! Live-action re-imaginings of Disney animated classics that!

Actually, Maltin - during one of the commentary segments - mentioned something about how people saw Disney back in the 1950s and how it's viewed now. He said something along the lines of, "Today, we see Disney as a brand, but back then we saw Walt Disney. We saw the man, it's like we knew him." I think what Maltin was essentially saying was that Disney was something more special back then, not the commonplace thing it is today. Back in the day, Disney meant something cool, something high quality, or if it wasn't high quality, at least it was something interesting or forward-thinking. It just reaffirms my admiration for the man's ambition and his achievements...

They showed the first episode of the Disneyland series, 'The Disneyland Story'. Still entertaining and inspirational to this day...

Only a few pre-1980 live action Disney films are on Blu-ray, ones that don't contain animation like Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Babes in Toyland got a quiet Blu-ray release a couple years ago, The Absent Minded Professor was to follow but that disappeared. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and a few others apparently were restored recently, too... Why no Blu-ray release for those? Especially Leagues? The film turned 60 this year!

Disney has slowly but surely moved away from physical media (though we are still getting the new, big films on Blu-ray and such - but even then, the quality really varies with each release), though once in a blue moon they can be a tad unpredictable. 1969's The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and 1975's The Apple Dumpling Gang were released as Disney Movie Club exclusives on Blu-ray a few months ago. As Maltin himself said last year, if Disney is all about digital, why aren't they going all out? Why none of these films and programs? Those should be put on Netflix or Disney Movies Anywhere, it could introduce many people to them in a convenient way. No need to produce mass amounts of discs that may not sell too well, just put them on that streaming service! What's the hold up?

But the good thing is, Disney has actually partnered with TCM to show these treasures. TCM is also helping Disney re-imagine The Great Movie Ride at Disney Hollywood Studios. I wonder how that will go over, because I always found that ride to be a joy. But again, TCM is involved so I expect nothing but good to come from this.

Let's hope TCM keeps showing more, should Disney not opt to release these things elsewhere...

Now some of you might be asking what my take on the whole Interview/Sony Hack situation is.

I've kind of avoided this because I don't want to get political or anything, but I firmly believe that Sony should not have pulled the film. I can understand the theater chains not wanting to show the film for fear of attacks, but I hope Sony releases the film in some form officially. If there's one thing I don't tolerate, it's censorship. A film about a bunch of people plotting to kill Kim Jong-Il was made on American soil and released theatrically ten years ago, it was called Team America: World Police. This kind of thing is nothing new, and it sickens me that the film had to be pulled because of a group of anonymous hackers. If it can't come to theaters, then put it on VOD, Blu-ray, etc. I'm just hoping, before jumping to any conclusions, that this is all settled soon and that we find out who these hackers are.

The hack has brought forth many interesting tidbits concerning Sony's ongoing problems with Spider-Man, an impending meeting with Marvel Studios that may very well get webhead back to where he belongs, and other things. Stuff about Phil Lord and Chris Miller being offered to head Sony Pictures Animation (that would be amazing), talks of the next 21 Jump Street installment being a crossover with Men in Black, and several more.

Perhaps the most interesting emails, for me, would have to be the ones sent during the development and production of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. One of which revealed that a Marvel Studios higher-up wanted to burn the draft of the script he saw back in fall 2012, long before Sony execs mangled the movie. Around this past April, the movie was not testing well and there were talks to re-insert stuff that was cut to get better results, such as the Mary Jane scenes (portrayed by Shailene Woodley) and the alternate ending where Peter Parker's father turns out to be alive. The story of the production is as up-and-down as the movie itself!


  1. I agree with you about Disney. Why should the good, ambitious projects be relegated to Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm? Where's the ambition in their TV stuff, let alone their recent live-action fare? Disney Channel and the live-action movie division are basically making people think Disney is solely in the money-making business (which in a way, they are, but they shouldn't sacrifice quality and ambition just to bring home the bacon). That's basically the reason why Disney made a smart decision to team up with TCM and show their classic content on there, including Davy Crockett and the classic Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons.

    Animation is basically what made Disney what it is today. I know they've always been associated with hand-drawn animation, but if the story is good, then it still follows the Disney tradition. The animated movies are great again (mostly thanks to John Lasseter), but would it kill Disney to tell them to make great, ambitious TV shows and live-action fare like Davy Crockett and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea again?

  2. You are missing "The Secret Life of Pets"... What is your opinion? Sounds promising... I am recalling Toy Story... It was sort of "The Secret Life of Toys"

    1. I forgot to mention it - though I did take note of the title change on Twitter. I think the title is alright, not the best, but at least it says something about the movie, haha.