Welcome to the DreamWorks movie edition of Gene Scallop’s Entertainment Report. Here’s what’s topping today!
During the past few months, we’ve been reporting on new animated movies and possible sequels. 3 weeks ago, the DreamWorks/Fox era officially began. And on Monday, DreamWorks released their movie schedule for next year all the way to 2016. How many movies will both DreamWorks and Fox have altogether Angie?
Angie Angelfish (via The Hollywood Reporter) TORONTO — Kicking off their new partnership in high style, 20th Century Fox has dated a dozen DreamWorks Animation movies through the middle of 2016 — marking the most ambitious slate for an animation house in Hollywood history.
The 12 DWA films include newly announced B.O.O: Bureau of Otherwordly Operations, set to hit theaters on Nov. 6, 2015, and How to Train Your Dragon 3, dated for June 18, 2016, and returning Dean DeBlois in the directors’ chair.
The Seth Rogen-voiced Bureau of Otherworldly Operations is based on an original idea by Tony Leondis (Igor), who is directing the ghost pic. It is produced by Maryann Garger (Flushed Away) and the screenplay is being written by Tom Wheeler (Puss in Boots).
“This is the moment when we can declare that we will have three films a year going forward on a continuing basis,” DWA chief creative officer Bill Damaschke said in an interview with THR. And, in the case of 2015, there will be four titles.
“Everyone of the movies in our lineup – whether it is an original film or a sequel to one of our beloved franchises – comes from the unique and special vision of our filmmakers, and we look forward to joining together with Fox to make them available to family audiences starting next year,” Damaschke said.
The other titles and dates are: The Croods (March 22, 2013), Turbo (July 19, 2013), Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Nov. 1, 2013), Me and My Shadow (March 14, 2014), How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 20, 2014), Happy Smekday! (Nov. 26, 2014), The Penguins of Madagascar (March 27, 2015), Trolls (working title, June 5, 2015), Mumbai Musical (working title, Dec. 19, 2015) and Kung Fu Panda 3 (March 18, 2016).
Fox’s upcoming in-house animation slate includes Epic (May 24, 2013), Rio 2 (April 14, 2014).
While DWA’s movies themselves have been in the works for years, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s company held back on dating many of them — or even revealing some of them, in the case of B.O.O. and Dragon 3 — until it knew who its new distribution partner would be upon ending its deal with Paramount at the end of this year.
That new partner is Fox, which has its own successful animation operation in Fox Animation Studios and Blue Sky Studios. The addition of DWA movies to its pipeline gives the studio enviable leverage in the family market.
“When I look at these movies, I am so proud because they are the results of years of work. This last year, while we waited to find out who our new partner would be, we could have targets for them. It was fantastic to be finally be able to sit down with Fox and date them. We’ve come up with a great release plan,” Damaschke said.
The only other year when DreamWorks Animation has had three titles was in 2010 (How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek Forever After and Megamind. This year, the company has two, summer 2012 tentpole Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and Rise of the Guardians, in theaters Nov. 21.
“It’s unprecedented for any studio to do three animated films in a year and they’ve been gearing up for some time,” Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman-CEO Jim Gianopulos said.
He and fellow Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman-CEO Tom Rothman added: “We have had the privilege not only to view many of these films in their various stages but also to meet the incredible leadership teams behind each one, and we are very confident about DreamWorks Animation’s robust future slate.”
Fox’s 2012 summer tentpole Ice Age: Continental Drift is the No. 3 grossing film of the year, earning north of $840 million to date.
Back on July 20th, DirecTV reached a carriage agreement with Viacom sending the Nick channels back on the schedule. The company was hit with a 27% ratings loss. On September 2nd, Nick took out their animation president due to sharp ratings. To make matters worse according to a 12 page reprisal, the network has underperformed badly and Viacom is taking another beating! Stanley, can you sort this out?
Stan Jennings Fish (via The Hollywood Reporter)- The Nickelodeon cable network is dragging Viacom down, according to a 12-page report Monday from Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser.
Wieser told clients that his team analyzed Rentrak set-top box data from 8.5 million homes, compared it to Nielsen ratings and determined that TV viewership among children is up in the past 10 months, just not at Nickelodeon.
Wieser said that attempting to place the blame for Nickelodeon’s lackluster performance of late on new technology is a nonstarter.
“Online video and Netflix equate to only 5 percent of the more than 40 billion person-hours of traditional linear television that is consumed in the course of a month in the United States. Among kids, the data is similar,” he writes.
Nielsen data, says Wieser, shows that “traditional television viewing among kids 2-11 has been on an upswing in recent years, year, “it is clear that Nickelodeon lost a substantial number of viewers over the past year.”
“Kids have not abandoned TV for new video platforms,” the analyst writes. “There is no credible evidence that online video or Netflix impacts traditional TV viewing … drops at Nickelodeon are still real.”
Wieser said Nickelodeon’s domestic programming generated about $900 million in advertising revenue last year out of nearly $5 billion in total advertising for Viacom’s networks around the world, but he doesn’t expect growth until the second half of next year.
“This return to growth is highly dependent upon Nickelodeon improving its programming, including its content procurement, scheduling and marketing efforts,” the analyst wrote.
Wieser’s report includes a line graph comparing ratings for Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Disney XD, Nick Jr., Teen Nick, NickToons and The Hub going back to November, 2010.
Despite his down assessment of Nickelodeon, Wieser is bullish on Viacom stock, with a target price of $73 and a “buy” recommendation. The shares closed a dime lower on Monday to $50.76.
New technology eh? This doesn’t look good for Nick at all! Stanley will keep a close watch of Viacom on the Street. Meanwhile…
Cartoon Network’s birthday party is a month away as it gives the go-ahead to create 2 slapstick animated comedies following in the footsteps of both Adventure Time and Regular Show. Who are they Perch?
Perch Perkins (via Variety)-When Rob Sorcher returned to Cartoon Network as chief content officer in early 2008, he had a sense that a generational shift was underway in animation. The first generation of artists to grow up with the Internet (and Cartoon Network) as a household appliance were hitting the job market, fresh out of Cal Arts, Gotham’s School of Visual Arts and other art institutions. These millennial toonsmiths were coming through the door with very different sensibilities about material, characters and especially humor than even their older brothers and sisters.
“Their brains don’t work the same way,” Sorcher says. “You could just feel it as we started talking to young artists.”
One of Sorcher’s first official acts was to establish what he dubbed the Cartoonstitute, a development lab within the cabler’s Burbank production facility. Sorcher had been part of the Cartoon Network exec team in the mid-1990s, when a similar initiative yielded such hits as “The Power Puff Girls,” “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Johnny Bravo.” He was surprised upon his return, after stints at AMC and USA Network, that Cartoon wasn’t devoting any resources to letting animators run wild in-house with ideas.
This time around, Sorcher admits he doesn’t always “get” the material that sparks the twenty-something artists at work for Cartoon Network Studios. But he surely gets that the first regular series to spring from the Cartoonstitute push has blossomed into a signature hit. “Adventure Time,” which originated as an online short for Frederator Studios before Cartoon nabbed it for development, is essentially a buddy adventure-comedy about a goofy teenage boy with heroic ambitions, his wise dog and their adventures with a host of good and not-so-good creatures in the Land of Ooo.
“Regular Show,” about the misadventures of a blue jay and a raccoon, is another recent success story. This week, Cartoon is green lighting two more offbeat comedies from “Adventure Time” alumni. “Steven Universe,” created by Rebecca Sugar, is a coming-of-age tale of a teen who is part of the magical Guardians of the Universe. “Uncle Grandpa,” from Pete Browngardt, revolves around a guy who is magically an uncle and grandfather to everyone in the world.
In another sign of changing times, “Steven Universe” marks the first Cartoon series created by a femme in the cabler’s 20-year history.
“The soul of Cartoon Network brand is this genre of (offbeat comedy),” Sorcher says. “We shifted the whole environment so that gifted artists can take what starts as a spark and fan it into a fire. We’ve designed the studio around the fact that they’re relatively inexperienced in working in series TV.”
It takes a level of commitment from execs above and below Sorcher’s station to get behind projects that start not with scripts but on storyboards, to be as animator-friendly as possible. When Sorcher and others saw “Adventure Time” creator Pen Ward’s initial ideas, there was skepticism.
“We all said, ‘That’s a weird little show. Is it a kids show? It feels different,” Sorcher says. “But that’s the sense of humor we’re talking about. These cartoons have a randomness and a sincerity to them. It’s what the audience is asking for. They love the random humor that is packed with all kinds of references. It’s all informed by a generation that has always grown up with the Internet.”
Cartoon Network’s hits have never been as big or flashy as those of Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. But the cabler has long enjoyed a big edge over its rivals in the older boy demos and the hipster young adult cartoon buff demo, an advantage that extends into late-night with its sibling Adult Swim net. Sorcher knew that as successful as the cabler was with its more traditional fare — such as “Ben 10” (one of Cartoon’s biggest global hits) — they were missing a huge opportunity by not playing more to their strengths with oddball shows. It’s in keeping with the maverick spirit of Cartoon’s founder, Ted Turner, something that has been top of mind this year as the cabler celebrates its 20th anniversary.
“I think we have the chance to move the vocabulary of animation forward in a really important way,” Sorcher says. “That’s the magic of these new cartoons.”
Checking the Penguins tally to 3000, 694 fans continue to pile on as the recently confirmed Penguins of Madagascar movie (aka Madagascar 4) is ready to be unlocked in Spring 2015 after some classified information was officially leaked out thanks to DreamWorks. Skipper was on assignment recently when the studio was planning to release their package days before Monday’s news.
I’m beginning to believe that after the big surprise, many fans will be shocked and still are of this greatest discovery ever. That’s just what Team Skipper needs after they finish their mission for Season 3. Speaking of great discoveries, will Lions Gate score their 5th weekly win with their exorcism powers in the box office? See in my box office report to find out! See you later for another helping of Gene Scallop’s Entertainment report!