Sunday, November 29, 2015

Dino Box Office: 'Good Dinosaur' Opens Well, But Not Great

It seems like Pixar's latest missed the big 6-0 on its opening weekend. The big 5-0, and maybe even the big 4-0...

Up until now, I had assumed that the Pixar name alone got people in the seats. I mean, why else would everything they have released from 2008 to now open with over $60 million without fuss? I was thinking a film about dinosaurs from the Emeryville house would score an easy $60 million+ opening...

The Good Dinosaur has made a rather low $39 million (estimate) for the three-day weekend, making it the lowest unadjusted opening for a Pixar film since Ratatouille, which opened with $47 million and arguably didn't have the wider appeal of its Emeryville brethren. Adjusted, it'll be the lowest for a Pixar film, period.

Now $39 million isn't really bad, plus it has the Thanksgiving week gross on its side ($55 million in the tank), but... Why lower than the other Pixar films? Did The Good Dinosaur somehow not appeal to too much people? Or is it because of the fact that it opened in the middle of the week rather than on a Friday? One could only imagine how much the film would collect had it been a regular 3-day opener. Maybe it wouldn't have made much of a difference. Perhaps The Hunger Games' finale was that strong in its second weekend that it lured adults and teens away, but I don't know about that. Catching Fire's second weekend success didn't stop Frozen from collecting $67 million for the 3-day.

I think it probably has to do with the marketing. I was on board since day one, because I trust Pixar, but a lot of others really weren't. I remember the film's first full trailer - the one with little-to-no dialogue - got very mixed reception. Prior to the opening, I saw more "eh" reactions than excitement. Perhaps the picture didn't reach the audiences Pixar's films usually get. I don't know this time...

My best guess is that it looked like yet another dinosaur picture, a la The Land Before Time and Dinosaur. The trailers all begin with the asteroid missing Earth, but yet all we saw were dinos, dinos, and more dinos... And just one human, a caveman. The film's more unconventional elements were downplayed in those trailers, in fact foreign trailers gave me more of an idea of what kind of picture the film was going to be. Maybe it looked generic? I don't know, I really don't...

Regardless of the opening weekend gross, the legs will most likely be the helping hand. Pixar movies normally score excellent multipliers, and maybe with a lower opening, the legs will be bigger. Word of mouth could spread, and it could stomp its way to $200 million domestically. Internationally, I think the picture is more than all set. There's no official budget on this picture, but it's somewhere in the region of $180 million, Pixar films usually cost around that much in this day and age.

With Frozen legs (5.9x), it'll make around $235 million. That's probably not in store for the film. With Tangled legs (4.1x) it'll make $166 million, I think it could land somewhere between those two. Lowest it goes, I think, is Penguins of Madagascar's multiplier, which is still a decent 3.3x. With that it'll finish up with around $132 million.

The only possible threat to the legs is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which I think will simply crush everything in its path, though if Pixar's dino picture is more than approved of by those who saw it this week, it might not have an issue when facing the cinematic return to the galaxy far, far away.

I wouldn't fret now, for it could hold up really well in the next couple of weeks. Again, foreign grosses must be considered. I have a feeling this picture will fare well in other territories.

What say you?


  1. We can only hope that the movie has legs and holds its own at the box office.

  2. I have a bad feeling this will become Pixar's "Tomorrowland", and Disney might force Pixar to focus on their franchises.

    1. There's still Coco in 2017 to decide that.

      Also, I think the reason The Good Dinosaur isn't doing so well is because, unlike most Pixar movies (except the Cars movies, which incidentally also performed low by Pixar standards) it is aimed almost exclusively at children and families. Adults and teens going on their own won't find much to enjoy in it the way they would in, say, Inside Out.