Hunger Games Mocking Jay Part 1 takes Black Friday box office with 83 million, Penguins of Madagascar debuts healthy 36 million; Frozen 2 in the works but Disney bucks it with feature short and ice skating show; Paddington to make British box office debut before box office debut

 

Mocking Jay gets back on track! I’m Realistic Fish Head. After critics last week exposed the 26% weakness of its debut, Mocking Jay made sure that it listened correctly to them and indeed learned its lesson this week as it took the Black Friday box office with 83 million. As for DreamWorks’ Penguins of Madagascar, which was released on Thanksgiving, did the movie deliver what Madagascar fans and fans of the TV series wanted since the last ever episode aired online Gene?

 

  Gene:

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 comfortably remained in first place this weekend with an estimated three-day take of $56.88 million. The third installment of Lionsgate’s blockbuster franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence took in an estimated $82.69 million over the five-day frame. Mockingjay – Part 1 was down a very reasonable 53 percent from last weekend. In comparison, last year’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire fell 53 percent in its second weekend to gross $74.18 million. Mockingjay – Part 1 zoomed past the $200 million mark this weekend and has grossed $225.69 million in ten days. While Mockingjay – Part 1 is already the seventh highest grossing domestic release of 2014 so far, the film is running a significant 24 percent behind the $296.29 million ten-day take of Catching Fire.

Penguins of Madagascar placed in a distant second with an estimated $25.8 million over the three-day frame. The 3D computer animated film from Fox and DreamWorks Animation has grossed an estimated $36.0 million in its first five days, which is below pre-release expectations. Compared to previous Thanksgiving family releases, Penguins of Madagascar opened 11 percent ahead of the $32.34 million five-day start of 2012’s Rise of the Guardians and 13 percent below the $41.52 million five-day start of 2012’s The Muppets.  Penguins of Madagascar is set to mark another underwhelming domestic performer for DreamWorks Animation; as it joins the likes of 2012’s Rise of the Guardians, 2013’s Turbo and to a lesser extent this year’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Penguins of Madagascar received an A- rating on CinemaScore.

Horrible Bosses 2 was off to an even softer start this weekend with an estimated $15.7 million fifth place take over the three-day frame. The comedy sequel from Warner Bros. took in an estimated $23.01 million over the five-day frame, which was well below expectations (which had already been scaled back a bit due in part to the film’s poor critical reviews). Horrible Bosses 2 opened 36 percent behind the $36.13 million five-day start of 2011’s Horrible Bosses (which opened on a Friday) and 50 percent behind the $46.05 million five-day Thanksgiving start of 2008’s Four Christmases. Horrible Bosses 2 was clearly hurt by its poor reviews, though the film may be going over a bit better with moviegoers, as it received a respectable B+ rating on CinemaScore.

The combined performances of Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2 this weekend argue very strongly that moviegoers continue to have sequel fatigue in 2014.

Thanks in part to the softer than expected starts of both Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2, Disney’s Big Hero 6 and Paramount’s Interstellar both held up very nicely this weekend.  Big Hero 6 placed in third for the weekend with an estimated $18.77 million, which was down a very slim 7 percent from last weekend. The 3D computer animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios took in an estimated $26.01 million over the five-day frame. Big Hero 6 has grossed $167.21 million through 24 days of release. That places the film 12 percent ahead of the $149.28 million 24-day take of 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph.

Interstellar claimed fourth place over the weekend with an estimated $15.8 million. The Christopher Nolan directed sci-fi film was up a terrific 3 percent over last weekend. Interstellar took in an estimated $22.01 million over the five-day frame and has grossed $147.09 million through 24 days of release. While Interstellar continues to perform below expectations, the film is displaying very solid holding power, due in part to good word of mouth, continued IMAX grosses and from skewing heavily towards older moviegoers.

Universal’s Dumb and Dumber To took sixth place with an estimated $8.3 million over the three-day frame. Despite the poorer than expected performance of Horrible Bosses 2, Dumb and Dumber To still took a hit this weekend, as it was down a sharp 41 percent from last weekend. Dumb and Dumber To took in an estimated $11.6 million over the five-day frame and has grossed a solid $72.21 million in 17 days.

The Theory of Everything had a very promising expansion this weekend with an estimated $5.08 million over the three-day weekend. That placed the awards season hopeful from Focus in seventh place among all films this weekend. The Theory of Everything earned a per-location average of $6,337 from 802 locations. The film has grossed $9.60 million in 24 days and should continue to hold up well going forward.

Fellow awards season hopeful The Imitation Game was off to a very strong start this weekend with an estimated $482,071 from 4 locations in New York and Los Angeles. The Weinstein Company drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch generated a massive per-location average of $120,518 for the frame. That represents the second largest per-location average for platform releases thus far in 2014 (behind only The Grand Budapest Hotel). The Imitation Game looks to be in store for a lengthy box office run throughout the awards season.

 

To recap, Mocking Jay Part 1 soars to a best Black Friday open 1st, Penguins of Madagascar fights in action in 2nd as Team Skipper joins Team Jack Frost as one of the best performing teams as they take out Peabody and Sherman and Team Turbo, Big Hero 6 gets upped in 3rd, Interstellar resumes course in 4th, and Horrible Bosses 2 struggles in 5th.

 

After a successful run last year, Disney’s Frozen has impacted worldwide fame since theaters first froze in the box office. Now, they’re talks about a sequel to the mouse’s best animated feature. Is Disney tackling that rumor down Jim?

 

Jim Fish (via The Wrap)-  Anybody thought Disney was not going to capitalize on one of its biggest blockbusters of all time by producing a sequel — what are you, crazy?

In what should be no shocker to anybody, “Frozen” voice star Idina Menzel told the Telegraph that “Frozen 2” is “in the works.”

Disney has not announced another feature-length animated adventure for princesses Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Menzel), but has confirmed a Broadway musical and an ice show, as well as a short film hitting theaters in 2015.

The studio has not yet responded to TheWrap‘s request for comment.

Although Menzel expects to “hopefully” return the studio to sing more songs as Elsa on the big screen, she says she will not be involved in the stage show.

 

“Not the stage show – I don’t know what will happen with that – but the movie hopefully,” Menzel said. “We’ll see. I’m just going along for the ride.”

A massive commercial success, “Frozen” accumulated nearly $1.3 billion in worldwide box office revenue. It also starred voice actors Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Santino Fontana.

 

 

Britain’s most popular bear is heading to the big screen as Paddington Bear readies himself for his biggest adventure yet. But there’s another famous character ready to hit the big screen too. Does this mean a matchup between bear vs. sheep Angie?

 

Angie Angelfish (via Dateline Hollywood)- Darkest Peru may seem an unlikely place to find the inspiration to become a global player. For Studiocanal, however, the jungles of the Latin American country may just have led them to a game-changer in the guise of a lovable bear called Paddington.

Based on Brit author Michael Bond’s much-loved series of books, Paddington the film is, by some margin, Studiocanal’s most ambitious project ever. (See trailer below.) In addition to cementing its position as Europe’s leading film company, Paddington represents a strategic entry into the family space for Studiocanal, which hopes it will consolidate efforts to be the leading provider of studio-quality product to the global marketplace.

Arguably, it also marks the most concerted attempt by a European independent company to launch an international multi-quadrant franchise outside of the studio system. Quite an achievement for a film about a homeless bear, who loves marmalade.

Paddington’s budget of $55M, which the Euro major fully financed, handled international sales on and is releasing in its direct distribution territories, is Studiocanal’s highest-ever single bet on a picture. The UK release today will also be its wider ever in the country at 500 sites. (Studiocanal later releases the film in France December 3; Germany December 4; Australia December; 11 and New Zealand December 18.)

“Paddington is by far the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” says Studiocanal UK chief Danny Perkins. “It’s been a big focus for us these last two years to create a completely coordinated campaign across our own territories as well as providing marketing and distribution support to our international partners the same way that Lionsgate, for example, does with Hunger Games.”

The film’s marketing campaign, particularly in the UK where a specially created trail of 50 Paddington statues designed by the likes of London mayor Boris Johnson and man-of-the-moment Benedict Cumberbatch, were placed across the city, has generated huge publicity and drawn much praise. Just as importantly, it will raise funds for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

“It’s been staggering,” says Paddington producer David Heyman. “The UK team driving it have been really fantastic.”

 

Studiocanal execs devised ingenious ways to increase awareness for a character who, while beloved in the UK for more than 50 years, is less well-known in other parts of the world. In Liam Neeson-starrer Non-Stop, which Studiocanal also financed, an almost subliminal sight gag with the grizzled action star holding a Paddington soft toy got the ball rolling. Paddington star Hugh Bonneville then set the bar even higher at this year’s Berlin Film Festival when he managed to get the cast of Monuments Men, including George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray, to pose on the red carpet with the cuddly bear.

The film will also benefit from Harvey Weinstein’s coup in getting Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani to record a song tie-in ahead of TWC’s domestic release of Paddington on January 16 next year.

David Heyman knows a thing or two about launching multi-quadrant franchises. As the producer of the Harry Potter films, he is responsible for the highest grossing family-friendly film series in film history. Warner Bros was Heyman’s home for the Potter movies and the producer — who also made Gravity at the studio — retains very close personal and professional ties there.

When Warner put Paddington — which has Brit helmer Paul King writing and directing — into turnaround in 2012 after five years in development, Heyman turned to the independent film world, an experience he describes as “scary and exciting.” Studiocanal moved quickly.

“It was a great opportunity to work with someone like David Heyman and to be involved in a project that was anchored in Europe but could travel everywhere,” says Ron Halpern, Studiocanal’s EVP of international production and acquisition. “It doesn’t make sense for us to make a film about a bunch of kids running around a U.S. city. We don’t add any value there. But with the film set in London, and given the history of films like Mary Poppins, Harry Potter and Narnia, we knew that audiences around the world get British children.”

While both Halpern and Perkins are effusive in their praise of Heyman, who has been completely hands-on with the production to point of collaborating with international distributors over their choice of foreign language voices to play Paddington across territories, the project did bring with it many risks.

Firstly, Studiocanal had never financed a film with such sophisticated VFX before. (The bears in Paddington are spectacularly rendered in CGI thanks to the stellar efforts of London-based post and effects house Framestore). Secondly, Paddington had nowhere the level of global recognition that the Potter books had.

“Potter was absolutely unique,” explains Heyman. “We optioned the book before it had even come out in the U.S. By the time the first film came out, the Potter books were numbers one, two and three on the New York Times Bestseller List.”

Also, Paddington’s writer-director King only had one feature credit to his name — 2009 low budget Brit indie Bunny And The Bull, which was actually released by Studiocanal.

“Looking back, the company had to make some big decisions, some really big calls,” recalls Halpern. “Plus, if you want to get into the family space, there is such a high creative level already, especially in the U.S. with the likes of Pixar, Dreamworks. You need to be sure you can reach those levels before you even show up.”

Ironically, Studiocanal’s indie roots paved the way for an approach that allowed King — a stalwart of the alternative Brit comedy scene through cult series The Mighty Boosh — and Heyman complete creative control.

Even the high profile departure of Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington in May this year — a decision described as “mutual” — to be replaced by Ben Whishaw did not cause any undue panic in the ranks.

The result is a film, completed literally only a fortnight ago, that has been ecstatically reviewed virtually unanimously by the British press.

“It’s probably going to be our best reviewed film of the year,” says Perkins. “The economics for us are completely different than a U.S. studio. When they make a $150 million-plus tentpole, there are certain boxes they need to tick to protect their investment: merchandise, known IP, appeal to all quadrants. With Studiocanal, even with a budget like Paddington, our approach is still to back the filmmaker and support their vision. Our core focus is just to make the best film possible.”

And while Studiocanal has financed, sold and distributed numerous high profile films — Liam Neeson-starrer Non-Stop the most recent example — Paddington is upping the ante significantly in terms both of financial risk as well as potential upside. If it is able to launch a lucrative repeating feature series, the attendant ancillary revenues, from merchandise and the like, could take the company, which is owned by French pay TV giant Vivendi, to a whole new level.

Studiocanal is already planning further moves into the family space, with Aardman-produced Shaun The Sheep set for release in 2015. And discussions continue with both Heyman as well as other regular Studiocanal collaborators, Working Title, about finding other projects in the family space.

While most eyes will be on the film’s box office numbers in the UK this weekend, Paddington himself may be casting an eye back home, where Studiocanal execs decided to open the film in Peru day-and-date with his adopted homeland on 80 prints.

 

 

Checking the Penguins tally, 2,021 fans sign in as Team Skipper claims victory in the box office as their 36 million smacker opening gains domestic performance from Team Jack Frost as they knock down both write offs from Peabody and Sherman and Turbo.

 

Way to go!

 

 

With the holidays underway, we jump into the holiday season with plenty of holiday movies and specials from your favorite toons! Be sure to check out ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas starting tomorrow night! This is Realistic Fish Head saying as we head to December, have a pleasant holiday!

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