Sunday, August 21, 2016

Box Office Report: 'Sausage' Slides, 'Kubo' Opens Softly

It was inevitable that LAIKA's latest would open in the 10s, but this one is their lowest yet, an estimated $12 million.

This is all no shocker, though. None of LAIKA's films, all of which have been distributed by Focus Features, have opened with more than $17 million at the domestic box office. They're always dependent on their legs, which Kubo and the Two Strings should have. With little other family competition till Storks flies into theaters a month from now, it should pull the usual 4x multiplier. It should have ParaNorman legs, as that was also an out-of-the-way mid-August release. The Boxtrolls, a late September release, didn't enjoy that kind of longevity because its run was cut in half.

Can we pinpoint the cause behind LAIKA's box office misfortunes? Why their films don't erupt at the box office? Whatever Focus is doing with the marketing, it's not getting mass amounts of people into the seats. That all being said, LAIKA's films each cost around $60 million to make with very little tie-in deals hang off of their backs. It doesn't matter if these films barely break even, LAIKA survives for various reasons, their CEO - Travis Knight, son of Nike's founder - being one of them. Who would've thought that shoes could help bring us artistic, wide-release stop-motion features?

LAIKA and all their future productions will be fine, but we all wish that the American public would one day come to their films in droves. Focus, or whoever, needs to find that lightning and use that to their advantage in order to get the studio a good-sized $50 million+ opening weekend gross. I want to believe that audiences avoided the movie for other reasons, not because it was done in stop-motion animation. Very few stop-motion features, however, have opened well and made lots in the long run. The Nightmare Before Christmas is iconic, though it was a good-sized success in its original release. ($104 million adjusted, certainly no Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin!) Aardman and DreamWorks scored a big hit with Chicken Run in 2000, which at one time - domestically - was the highest-grossing non-Disney animated feature till Shrek was released a year later.

Even though Henry Selick and Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas became such a cult classic by the mid-2000s, it didn't help Tim Burton's solo stop-mo feature Corpse Bride, for that opened low as well. Selick's name, as well Burton's, along with their aesthetics, also didn't save the hybrid James and the Giant Peach, which opened three years after Nightmare. Selick and LAIKA's Coraline was no smash, either.

I can't say, really. Of course, not every film is meant to be a towering blockbuster, but part of me wants to see a LAIKA film do pretty good business. At least somewhere in the mid-100s, in a world where things like The Smurfs and The Lorax have gotten there.

Sausage Party slipped 55%, perhaps indicating that this won't have This is the End's legs. But the picture cost $19 million to make, so it has already made nearly 3 1/2x the budget. Seth Rogen will likely get the sequel made, but I'm sincerely hoping that he doesn't turn to Nitrogen for it. Though it's been reported that Rogen wasn't aware of the abuse, I wonder if he has caught up on the news. My hopes... And I've said this ad nauseum... I hope this tells someone, somewhere: "Invest in a low-budget adult animated film and release it wide!"

Will Sausage Party be that launch point? Or a one time thing?

Easing 36%, The Secret Life of Pets is still barking. The picture sits at $346 million stateside, $674 million worldwide.

Ice Age: Collision Course is missing $70 million domestically. It slipped 55%, now it's at $60 million. My theater is not showing it anymore, and it's not even a month old. Worldwide, it sits at $314 million. Almost 3x the budget.

In fact, Finding Dory, a two-month old movie, is ahead of it on the chart. Finding Dory only fell 27%, it now bubbles with $478 million domestically, and worldwide it's at $915 million. The billion is in sight, it should reach it by the autumn.

Shockingly, Pete's Dragon doesn't seem so leggy. It fell 47%, and is now at $42 million domestically and $57 million. You'd think that, with a $65 million budget and the fact that this is a remake, Disney would've plugged the heck out of this one. Were they aware that they had a high quality film on hand? Wait... This is Disney we're talking about. I guess it's another casualty that won't matter in the long run... And this one wasn't even released close to another big-scale Disney offering.

What say you on the box office results?

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