Monday, March 23, 2015

Shred of Hope: 'Home' Opens Well in Few Territories

A lot of people may have written Home's obituary, but I was one of the few who didn't want to.

One reason? I think it's unfair to do such a thing, unless the film is most likely going to go belly-up. But I still don't really do that, because hey... Why rub salt in the wounds? Anyways, Home. We animation fans know that it's DreamWorks Animation's only release this year. We also know that it cost a hefty $132 million to make, and probably a pretty penny to market. DreamWorks has specific expectations for each film of theirs at the box office, as their reactions to Rise of the Guardians, Turbo, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and Penguins of Madagascar have proven over the last few years.

That's all another story for another day.

Home, according to a good chunk of people, "doesn't look good". Of course, my philosophy is that in this day and age, an animated film needs to look good before it opens in order to be successful. I hear people always say, "Well that film did badly because it wasn't good." That is true in some cases, but if a not-so-good animated film opens well (see the Shrek sequels) and has bad legs, it's still going to be a hit because people - fortunately for whatever studio made the film - wanted to see it beforehand. The opening weekend is pretty much everything in the box office world these days. Let's say you thought Despicable Me was bad, or mediocre, or whatever... Well, a lot of people wanted to see it because that marketing was great, and what was in each trailer struck a chord with millions of moviegoers! It opened well, regardless of the quality. It was also much cheaper than something like Toy Story 3, which came out the same year and cost roughly $130 million more to make.

But do we really know what audiences are thinking of Home? It opens in three days, tracking has been rather erratic. Some are suggesting it'll open in the low 20s (Turbo levels), others are saying it could as high as $35-40 million. On the positive side, the film has all of April, May, and early-to-mid June to itself. No major G/PG competition will get in its way, the only film I can think of right now is Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, but I highly doubt that will be much of a threat. (The first was an unexpected sleeper back in 2009, but is anyone really anticipating a sequel to that flick?) Plus, by the time it opens, Home will have built up enough steam to hold up against it. Let's put the silly "animated films/family films cannibalize each other" myth to rest already.

PG-13 blockbusters like Avengers: Age of Ultron? No problem, nothing stopped late March 2013 release The Croods. Iron Man 3? Star Trek Into Darkness? The cavemen comedy still held up. Pulled an excellent 4.3x multiplier. Also, How To Train Your Dragon was a late March 2010 release, Iron Man 2 didn't hurt it too much. 5.0x multiplier! I imagine Home pulling a 4x multiplier, so if it opens in the lows 20s, it'll still top $100 million domestically if it has legs like that. I think it will get legs like that, because even a lot of poorly-reviewed family films still score 3x multipliers at worst. The film currently carries a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, most of the reviews are simply saying it's just okay/harmless/mediocre. Turbo was pretty harmless, it still scored a 3.9x multiplier.

Of course, a leggy run off of a super-low opening won't be enough if the overseas total isn't good...

Home has opened with $19 million in just a few territories... I'd say that's pretty impressive.

Even more impressive, it opened with $9 million in the UK. That's higher than a good number of hit animated features, actually. I'd like to point out that Box Office Mojo's article says this is the biggest opening for a DreamWorks film in the UK outside of the Shrek series, but Madagascar and the two Kung Fu Panda films opened higher, alongside How To Train Your Dragon 2. Still, it's a very good opening and it bodes well for the film. It should make a good $30 million or more at the end of its run over there.

I know, startling! Right? It also did quite well in Russia, Spain, and Australia. With that, I think this will perform significantly better overseas than Rise of the Guardians ($203 million) and Turbo ($199 million). I don't think it'll be Croods-sized, necessarily. I mean, $400 million... I didn't even think The Croods would pull in that much overseas! I'm thinking this does $250 million minimum overseas, which isn't too bad. Penguins of Madagascar took in $284 million overseas, the current overall gross is $367 million, DreamWorks still took the write-down. Maybe because this new film isn't an entry in a franchise whose installments make $500 million each, company expectations aren't as high. Maybe they'll give it a pass if if makes roughly $350 million overseas, which is more than 2 1/2x that $132 million budget. I reckon they'll be relieved if it even makes that much, to be honest. Even Katzenberg is kind of on the fence about its box office prospects.

It'll open in 55 more territories alongside the US and Canada this coming weekend, so let's not call it dead just yet. If it opens in the mid-to-high 30s here, I think everything will be alright and this won't be a "ripping the bandaid" moment for DreamWorks. Let's hope it does well!

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