Monday, February 6, 2017

Fox, The Bullfighter: Fox Pits 'Ferdinand' Against 'Star Wars'

Confidence? Or lack of faith that I find disturbing?

Fox has moved Blue Sky's Ferdinand, a new adaptation of the classic children's book about a bull who would rather smell flowers than participate in a bullfight, up a week. It is now set to open the same day as Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Literally, Fox is the bullfighter here... Star Wars will either charge this thing right out of the ring, or Ferdinand will somehow hold up. But here's the thing. This new Blue Sky film, to me, is more than just blockbuster counter-programming. I get it in a way. Star Wars is a PG-13 spectacle for everyone, while families who aren't willing to take their young'uns to it - or if it's sold out at their local multiplexes - can turn to Ferdinand. Worked for Fox's own Alvin and the Hipmunks 4, so why not this?

But I think it's more than that. As we all know now, not every animated family film is destined to magically pull big numbers out of a hat. Blue Sky's films, on average, cost about $90-100 million to make. The ideal situation? The film in question pulls about $250-300 million at the worldwide box office. Some of Blue Sky's recent films have barely topped $100 million domestically, and in one case, completely missed it.

That very film was last summer's Ice Age 5, the franchise is fortunately something of a hot commodity in other parts of the world. It was pretty much saved there, but something like Epic or Peanuts or Ferdinand? Well, those are arguably untested with worldwide audiences. Epic didn't soar overseas, nor did the film based on the iconic comic strip. So Ferdinand's foreign gross is totally up in the air as well, though I can see it doing well in Spain and parts of Europe given the setting.

In short, I don't want it to flop, because things happen when most animated movies flop. Artists may get laid off, or certain films aren't tried again. Blue Sky has yet to see a big flop. So I don't know about the slight date change. I think they should've kept it for the week after Star Wars, so that after Star Wars blasts everything to smithereens, it can then quietly have a nice start up.

Let's look at holiday legs...

Holiday family films tend to have very strong legs, like most holiday releases. The third Chipmunks movie opened much lower than its predecessors, but legs got it past $100 million stateside. The fourth one opened embarrassingly low, but had the legs to make it up to $85 million stateside. Paramount dumped The Adventures of Tintin faster than a moldy sandwich, but after such a terrible opening, it heave-ho'ed to $77 million. Yogi Bear? Same thing. Small-as-heck opening, climbed to $100 million. The Emperor's New Groove is perhaps one of the best examples of this. Disney left that one to die in mid-December of 2000, and lo and behold... After an abysmal opening, it climbed with its might, all the way up to $89 million. (Adjusted, that's: $15 OW / $139m DOM)

Some of those had reasonable budgets, some of them didn't, others had to rely on worldwide grosses. Tintin was thankfully saved by very strong overseas grosses, given the legacy of the comic series it's based on. Emperor's New Groove on the other hand was born out of cancelled movie that had already cost Disney greatly, thus it was pretty expensive, and worldwide grosses did not - unfortunately - come to the rescue. Let's hope Ferdinand isn't expected to make too much.

So, what's Fox's game here? Do you think Ferdinand could do well? Sound off below.


  1. You know what I would do? I would have Ferdinand open on 11/22/2017, which then causes Disney to move Coco to an October 2017 date.

    (I just asked for too much, didn't I?)

  2. People have also been negative to Disney's Star Wars remake lately.