Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Great Start: 'SpongeBob' Movie Sequel On Track To Open Big


Paramount Animation's first film was inevitably a success, but the amount it will make this weekend is a bit astounding...

Taking in a strong $15 million yesterday, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water is on track to make over $50 million... Wow... $50 million! The opening of the first movie, released in fall 2004, is $42 million adjusted. Though digging deeper into things, the first film sold 1.5 million tickets on opening day while this took in 1.8 million. It's amazing how different things are ten years later, especially when 3D is factored in. So basically Sponge 2 stayed flat.

Also, like The Lego Movie, this opening shows that you can release a family movie at any time of the year. "But kids are in school!" Hogwash. As long as the content appeals to audiences from the get-go, you're all set. Animated family movies aren't just for kids, either... (How many times does that bare repeating? A lot, sadly.)

Now here's the other kicker... I haven't seen the film yet, but I hear a good chunk of the film was done in traditional animation. More so than I thought. Yeah, traditional animation isn't commercially viable alright. To be fair, most of the marketing showed the CG/live-action scenes, so Paramount had a sly way to get people into the 2D film...

This is wishful thinking of the highest order, but I hope its success tells executives: 2D animation is commercially viable!


Also, it's a big opening for an animated film based on a recent or currently-running animated TV series. (Leaving out something like Mr. Peabody & Sherman.) Now those kinds of films have something of a spotty track record. Let's look at some of those...

The Simpsons Movie opened big with $74 million back in 2007 for obvious reasons, second place on the animated TV series movie list is The Rugrats Movie, which opened amidst Rugrats-mania in 1998 and it broke quite a few records for a non-Disney animated film at the time of its release. Its 2000 sequel did pretty decent business. Adult-oriented Beavis and Butthead Do America and South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut did good business for what they were. Pokemon the First Movie broke the opening weekend record for a non-Disney animated film in 1999, but had piss-poor legs afterwards. Its sequels didn't do as well, for obvious reasons. (Where were you in 1999 during the height of Pokemania?) SpongeBob's first flick opened well, not big, but well... And that was 5 years into the show's run, no less. Going way back, we had The Care Bears Movie in 1985, which at the time was the highest grossing non-Disney animated film until Don Bluth's An American Tail destroyed it a year later.

But then we get films like Recess: School's OutThe Powerpuff Girls Movie, Hey Arnold! The MovieThe Wild Thornberrys Movie, and Teacher's Pet. Those didn't do well, I think, because none of the shows they were based on spawned manias. I don't remember Recess, The Powerpuff Girls, The Wild Thornberrys, Hey Arnold! and Teacher's Pet being anything other than successful, popular shows. They weren't massive phenomenons like Rugrats and Pokemon were. Disney even took a stab at this in the early 90s, but to little success, though both Ducktales the Movie - Treasure of the Lost Lamp and A Goofy Movie are fondly remembered.

But ticket prices are up, and Sponge out of Water will take in over $50 million. I wonder if this could open up the market for animated films based on animated TV shows again, and I do remember Paramount Animation announcing that they would look into their TV properties for movies, Legend of Korra being one of them... But that ended. Disney was supposed to release a Phineas & Ferb film written by Michael Arndt last year, but in early 2013 the film was put back into development. Last I heard, Disney Pictures Chairman Alan Horn had the film canceled, but hopefully we get one because a P&F movie is too good of an idea to pass up. The success of this film could change minds at the Mouse House. I have no idea if Cartoon Network intends to make movies based on their shows, ditto Nickelodeon. Hasbro intends to release a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic movie in 2017.

We shall see what happens, but I hope this film's success helps 2D and films based on animated TV shows...

So... Here's to Paramount Animation for their first film being successful, here's to a 2D film doing very well on opening weekend, and here's to feature animation doing good business no matter what time of the year it is!

8 comments:

  1. If there was at least the Cartoon Network Cinematic Universe and the Nicktoons Cinematic Universe... I would be happy. Warner Animation Group and Paramount Animation could try these, respectively, given the recent trend of shared cinematic universes...

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  2. I hate Spongebob! But I had to admit, at least that movie gave hand drawn animation a little more boost.

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  3. Pokemon the First Movie broke the opening weekend record for a non-Disney animated film in 1999, but had piss-poor legs afterwards. Its sequels didn't do as well, for obvious reasons. (Where were you in 1999 during the height of Pokemania?)

    It's worth noting, though, that in Pokemon's case a lot of that money came from Japan, where Pokemon is still just as popular as it was back then. After the fourth movie, they were mostly released direct-to-video outside Japan, but lately the 14th Pokemon movie (Victini and the White Hero: Reshiram) got a limited US theatrical release. So you never know. . .

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    1. Oh yeah, the Pokemon films soldiered on in Japan. Should've said "here in the states".

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  4. At the rate things are going now, I think execs will have the thought in their heads that the only way hand-drawn animation will be successful will only be if it's a movie that serves as a tie in to a Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, or Disney Channel original series as in SpongeBob's case.

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    1. I bet you're right. TV show adaptations are a less risky way to try out risky ideas in animated film (aiming at adults in the 1990s, or using traditional animation today), because they have a built-in audience and are more or less guaranteed to make a profit.

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  5. Watched the film on Saturday and had a blast. Plain silly, zany, and even trippy fun. The majority of it is actually 2D, I'd say around three quarters of it! It was great to see traditional animation on the big screen again, hopefully we see more of it in the years to come. I'm hopeful that we'll see hand-drawn animation make a comeback within the next ten years (hopefully sooner than that).

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  6. At least this site is more hopeful for hand drawn animation than that ridiculous sourpuss dvdizzy.com

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