The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water beats box office numbers with 56 million, American Sniper holds position, Seventh Son flops; Birdman wins at the DGA’s ending Oscar race; Elena of Avalor coming to Disney Junior in 2016


The hero of Bikini Bottom triumphs again! I’m Realistic Fish Head. SpongeBob was victorious at the box office as he beat out expectations with 56 million since The SpongeBob Movie in 2004. With him and his friends now at the real world Gene, can they continue the story this week to see how it ends?





Paramount’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water surprised in a big way this weekend with a very strong debut of $56.0 million. The 3D animated live-action hybrid film based on the long running animated series blew past pre-release expectations. The film opened 75 percent stronger than the $32.02 million debut of 2004’s The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (without adjusting for ticket price inflation). The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water opened just 19 percent below the $69.05 million start of last year’s The LEGO Movie, which was certainly unexpected. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water delivered the fifth largest opening weekend ever for the month of February (behind only 2004’s The Passion of the Christ, The LEGO Movie, 2001’s Hannibal and 2010’s Valentine’s Day).

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water opened with $15.02 million on Friday, increased a healthy 62 percent on Saturday to gross $24.31 million and is estimated to decline 31 percent on Sunday to take in $16.68 million. That places the film’s estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 3.73 to 1. That was noticeably stronger than the 3.35 to 1 ratio of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. The film did receive a so-so B rating on CinemaScore, though younger moviegoers under the age of 18 (who made of 50 percent of the film’s audience) did give the film an A- score. With no real competition for family audiences throughout the month of February, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water should be able to hold up much better going forward than The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie did back in 2004.

After leading the box office for the past three weeks, Warner’s American Sniper fell to second place this weekend with an estimated $24.17 million. The blockbuster Clint Eastwood directed film starring Bradley Cooper was down just 21 percent from last weekend’s performance, which was obviously deflated by the Super Bowl. This weekend’s hold for American Sniper was especially impressive given that the film lost its IMAX screens to Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son.  American Sniper has grossed a massive $282.27 million after 24 days of wide release. That ranks the film as the third highest grossing release of 2014 thus far domestically and leaves the film just $17.73 million away from reaching the $300 million domestic milestone.

Fellow Warner Bros. release Jupiter Ascending debuted in third place with an estimated $19.0 million. The expensive 3D sci-fi film from The Wachowskis starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis debuted towards the lower end of already relatively modest expectations. Jupiter Ascending was originally scheduled to open last July, but pushing the film back to February ultimately made little difference at the box office and likely even hurt the film’s potential a bit. The opening weekend performance of Jupiter Ascending was quite similar to the $18.56 million start of 2008’s Speed Racer.

Jupiter Ascending opened with $6.39 million on Friday (which included an estimated $1.0 million from evening shows on Tuesday), increased 19 percent on Saturday to take in $7.63 million and is estimated to decline 35 percent on Sunday to gross $4.98 million. That gives the film an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.97 to 1.  Jupiter Ascending received a lackluster B- rating on CinemaScore and is likely to be significantly front-loaded due in part to fans of The Wachowskis rushing out on opening weekend. The audience breakdown for Jupiter Ascending skewed heavily towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (82 percent) and towards male moviegoers (57 percent). The film grossed $2.18 million from IMAX locations, which represented 11.5 percent of the film’s overall gross. 3D grosses made up 52 percent of the film’s overall gross.

While Jupiter Ascending at least had a presence at the box office this weekend, Universal’s Seventh Son didn’t. The pricey and long delayed fantasy film (which was originally to be released by Warner Bros.) stumbled out of the gate with an estimated fourth place debut of $7.1 million.  Seventh Son debuted on the low end of expectations and represents yet another early 2015 release that audiences simply had no interest in (joining the likes of Blackhat, Mortdecai and Strange Magic). It should be noted that Seventh Son has had much more of a box office presence overseas.

Seventh Son opened with $2.3 million on Friday, increased 30 percent on Saturday to gross $3.0 million and is estimated to fall 40 percent on Sunday to gross $1.8 million. That places the film’s estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 3.09 to 1. Like Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son also received a lackluster B- rating on CinemaScore. The audience breakdown for the film skewed towards moviegoers over the age of 25 (68 percent) and towards male moviegoers (61 percent). Seventh Son grossed $0.67 million from IMAX locations, which represented 9.4 percent of the film’s overall gross.

Paddington rounded out the weekend’s top five with an estimated $5.37 million. The well received family film from The Weinstein Company was down 35 percent from last weekend, which represented a very solid hold, especially given the stronger than expected launch of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Paddington has grossed $57.27 million through 24 days of release.

Project Almanac followed closely behind in sixth place with an estimated $5.33 million. The low budget sci-fi thriller from Paramount was down just 36 percent from last weekend. Despite the nice second weekend hold, Project Almanac is still performing below pre-release expectations with a ten-day start of $15.76 million.



To recap as we go into Valentines Week, SpongeBob Movie 2 eclipses its numbers 1st, American Sniper holds their position in 2nd, Jupiter Ascending zooms up in 3rd, Seventh Son stumbles in 4th, and Paddington moves down 3 positions in 5th as The Sponge prepares to exceed his chances since he first went to the big screen.



The Oscar race was officially over early this morning as the DGA’s settled the question of who earns best picture in Hollywood. Birdman, still the favorite since winning the SAG Award for Best Picture, made sure that the Oscar was theirs. Is the Oscar race over Angie and is Birdman for real?



Angie Angelfish (via Deadline Hollywood)- Yes, Birdman is for real. If there was any lingering doubt that industry awards voters are dead serious about honoring a movie that is about a lot of things but especially about themselves, the DGA’s top honor erased those questions. Now after triumphing at the PGA, winning the SAG Ensemble Cast prize and DGA Directorial Achievement Award for Alejandro G. Inarritu this movie has flown past the competition and left what was thought to be a front runner, Boyhood, in its dust. It’s an important moment for the film as its victory occurred on the very weekend Oscar balloting begins.


The Boyhood momentum was created by critics and pundits based on its sweep through the critics portion of the season where it pulled a inarritu by winning everything right thru the Golden Globes for 2010, only to be trounced by The King’s Speech once the Guild prizes started rolling in. I was pretty much alone in believing, great as it is, that the Boyhood  critical tide might not translate to the industry, thinking that this year would produce a divide between critics and the people who make movies, but I had the wrong pony. I thought a consensus picture for the industry would likely be The Imitation Game, but that highly regarded film has, somewhat inexplicably, had a harder time gaining needed momentum and precursor wins in the race, and Birdman is clearly resonating.

Is it ‘game over’? Can it be stopped?  Sure. This is still very much a fluid year, but the key indicators of Oscar success are lining up nicely and common wisdom says Birdman is going to have a very strong Oscar night. The winner of the DGA award has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Director all but seven times in 67 years. And usually the winner of the Best Director Oscar also matches Best Picture. The last two years were not the case with the Oscar-snubbed Ben Affleck getting DGA sympathy in 2012 for an Argo win while Ang Lee took the Oscar for Life Of Pi. And last year it really seemed Oscar voters specifically separated the DGA-winning directorial achievement of Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity apart from the picture itself, choosing instead 12 Years A Slave  for top honors.

Since Inarritu’s high wire act is a model of directorial art that’s hard to ignore, but the movie itself may not be for every taste, that could happen again and voters could look elsewhere to bestow Best Picture, most likely on the wild card, American Sniper which seems to be popular in the Academy (not to mention a box office phenomenon). But there are any number of scenarios and outside possibilities. However if you are a reader of tea leaves, at this point at least the smart money has to be on Birdman. Boyhood appears to have a tougher climb now as its Guild losses give those in the Academy resistant to the charms of this wonderful indie marvel 67th DGA Awards license to go to something else and not follow critical opinion. Sunday a Birdman win at BAFTA could close the lid. A loss might retain hope for its competitors as BAFTA has been very predictive in the past, and has a strong cross membership with the Academy. Next week’s last major Guild test at the WGA won’t mean as much since Birdman was ineligible there for a nomination. By the way, Inarritu makes great acceptance speeches. At the DGA he was amusingly humble. “If you go to bed to make love with your wife you don’t say ‘let’s make the best children in the world’. They just come,” he said to laughs. “If this is considered a great film it has nothing to do with me. It’s a miracle”.

It’s interesting that with the all-important DGA awards and BAFTA both taking place thousands of miles apart on the same weekend, all three directors (Inarritu, Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson) nominated for both showed instead in L.A. for the DGA p67th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards – Inside arty  along with fellow nominees Clint Eastwood and Imitation Game’s Morten Tyldum, while almost all the actors in their films headed to London. “Who came up with having the idea of putting the DGA and BAFTA on the same weekend? All the actors are there and all the directors are here,”  said Tyldum. Normally the DGA affair would have been more star-studded as those actors would likely have presented the nomination medallions to their directors (Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley did it via a pre-taped speech for Tyldum).

One top star who was  in the room was Sniper’s Bradley Cooper who didn’t want to miss the chance to present to Eastwood, the only DGA nominee who got a standing ovation. Cooper bent over backwards to be there to do it as he is appearing on Broadway in The Elephant Man and the show is a sell-out thru its closing on the day before Oscars. Cooper performed in the show Saturday afternoon, hopped a plane and made it to the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in the nick of time. The show went dark Saturday night and Sunday matinee so he could be in L.A. to honor his director. It was worth it. His  presentation was hilarious and right on the money, and he does a great Eastwood impression. When he was introduced Cooper got by far the biggest applause of any of the night’s presenters, although Bill Murray’s intro to his Grand Budapest Hotel director Wes Anderson was also pretty terrific. Eastwood, after jokingly complaining the guild paid off his pension too early said, “I’ve had a wonderful life in this business and it’s not over yet”.  That’s for sure, especially after Sniper has become the biggest hit of his career – or just about anyone else’s.


Boyhood’s Linklater (introduced by Before Midnight star and writer Julie Delpy) had a great speech (all the nominated directors get to make acceptance speeches upon receiving their medallion) when he noted that his application to join the guild was endorsed by Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich and Francis Coppola. Not bad people to get a recommendation from. When he asked Bogdanovich who sponsored him for entry into the DGA, the director replied  John Ford, Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock. Try and beat that!   Tyldum (at whose front row table I was lucky enough to be seated) got laughs quoting the late, great Mike Nichols who once said, “directing is like sex. You rarely get the chance to see others do it”. Although I know he would love to have won, Tyldum told me the real honor as a first-time nominee making his first English language film is just to be in this company. He touted the camraderie of this year’s nominees who all appeared earlier in the day at a DGA symposium. Multiple DGA and Emmy winner Don Mischer was raving about it and told me Wes Anderson nearly stole the show talking about how he couldn’t believe he was actually sitting with Eastwood on the same panel.

Jane Lynch hosted again, as she did last year, and the directors pulled off a breezy evening, albeit one that lasted about four hours. Near the end of those four hours Steven Spielberg appeared to make some news. Beginning next year the Guild is adding a brand new category for Achievement By A First Time Feature Film Director. The announcement was preceded by a reel showing one great film after another that repped the movie debut of their helmers. It was a nice touch to an evening that also produced great tributes to not one, but an unprecedented two Lifetime Achievement winners for Television Direction: James Burrows and  Robert Butler. Burrows was very funny, pointedly taking a shot at Les Moonves whose CBS network recently abruptly cancelled his second year sitcom, The Millers. Burrows told me later he would have hit the milestone of directing 1000 episodes of TV if the show had continued. “Guess I will have to wait until next year now,”  he laughed. As for Butler he had one of the best lines of the night. “I believe what we do IS Rocket Science,”  he said. The ballroom full of directors roared.



Princess Sophia has gotten a lot of help from each Disney Princess in her royal run to help her friends. This week, the royal princess’s successor was found. Who’s next in line to succeed Sophia Dan?


Dan Barry (via Nick and More)- Princess Elena of Avalor, a confident and compassionate teenager in an enchanted fairytale kingdom inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore, will be introduced in a special episode of Disney Junior’s hit series “Sofia the First” beginning production now for a 2016 premiere. That exciting story arc will usher in the 2016 launch of the animated series “Elena of Avalor,” a production of Disney Television Animation. The announcement was made today by Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide.

The role of 16-year-old Princess Elena, the bold, caring, funny and clever ascendant to the throne in the fairytale kingdom of Avalor, will be voiced by Aimee Carrero (ABC Family’s “Young & Hungry”).

Kanter said, “Our creative team has delivered a universal story with themes that authentically reflect the hopes and dreams of our diverse audience.” She continued, “What excites us most is the chance to use distinctive animation and visual design to tell wonderful stories influenced by culture and traditions that are familiar to the worldwide population of Hispanic and Latino families and reflect the interests and aspirations of all children as told through a classic fairy tale.”

As with all Disney Junior programming, “Elena of Avalor” stories will be guided by an established curriculum that nurtures multiple areas of child development: physical, emotional, social and cognitive; thinking and creative skills, as well as moral and ethical development. Created for kids age 2-7 and their families, the stories are designed to communicate positive messages and life lessons that are applicable to young children about leadership, resilience, diversity, compassion and the importance of family and family traditions.

The series will be presented in 25 languages on Disney Junior channels and daily programming blocks for kids age 2-7 on Disney Channels, among other platforms, in 154 countries around the world. On television alone, its estimated daily reach will be over 207-million households.

Princess Elena’s journey began long ago when her parents and kingdom were taken from her by the evil sorceress, Shuriki. Elena bravely faced the sorceress to protect her little sister, Princess Isabel, and grandparents but in the process, her magical amulet pulled her inside its enchanted jewel, saving her life but imprisoning her at the same time. Decades later, Princess Sofia of Enchancia discovers the truth about the amulet she has worn since joining her royal family and sets out to restore Elena to her human form and help her return to the kingdom of Avalor.

While Elena is the rightful heir to the throne, she is only age 16 so she will rule Avalor with the help of a Grand Council comprised of her Grandfather Tito, Grandmother Cici and Royal Advisor, Duke Esteban.

With some magical friends by her side – Mateo, a wizard-in-training, and Skylar, a magical flying creature – Princess Elena’s further adventures will lead her to understand that her new role requires thoughtfulness, resilience and compassion, the traits of all truly great leaders.

“Elena of Avalor” is executive-produced by Craig Gerber (of the Emmy Award-nominated “Sofia the First”). Silvia Cardenas Olivas (“Moesha,” “The Brothers Garcia”), an alumna of the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Television Writers Program, is the story editor, and Elliot M. Bour (“The Little Engine That Could”) is the supervising director. The series’ cultural advisors are Doris Sommer, Harvard University professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Spanish; and Marcela Davison Aviles, Managing Director and Executive Producer, El Camino Project, an international Latino arts initiative.

The series is a spin-off of “Sofia the First,” which has delivered the two highest-rated telecasts in cable TV history among Kids 2-5 and Girls 2-5, and the #2 preschooler cable TV telecast ever in Total Viewers, Adults 18-40 and Women 18-49.



Checking the Penguins tally, 1,819 fans sign in as Team Skipper congratulates Team Hiccup for earning the most Annie’s with 6 of them at the Annie’s last weekend.



Sparky, the funniest fairy dog in Fairy World, was founded at a magic pet store by Timmy by proving to the world that he could be the best pet owner. But this week, Sparky’s anti-fairy counterpart is ready to do some damage! See if Timmy can outsmart this evil dog if he avoids to be “Man’s Worst Friend” in a new Fairly Odd Parents special! This is Realistic Fish Head saying, Watch out for Anti-Sparky’s bag of tricks Timmy!

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