Monday Morning Quarterback

By BOP Staff

November 10, 2008

He just made the cheerleaders happy!

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A lot of people like to move it, move it.

Kim Hollis: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa exceeded all expectations with a $63.5 million opening. How impressed are you by this result?

Brandon Scott: Everything that I had read leading up to its release on Friday had this pegged to do $60 million, so in that regard I am not that surprised. Nevertheless, that is a pretty stellar result. Madasgascar 3 should be titled "Escape to the Theater" with those type of figures. Never underestimate kid pics, I suppose.

Scott Lumley: And thus did the theatres suffer a great drought after the leaving of the Dark Knight. And the masses did stay away, nonplussed as they were with the offerings of High School Musical 3 and Zack and Miri make a film about naughty bits. And for 40 days and 40 nights the filmgoers were absent from this most holy of temples, the theater. And then, as foretold by the movie posters, Madagascar 2 did open. And the filmgoers did rejoice, and flock to the theatre they did, and gleefully did they watch this most insipid of animated sequels. Their wallets sprang forth, like overstuffed democratic polling stations, and the money showered down upon Stiller and Rock and... some other guys.

Man, it's tough talking all biblical. Am I allowed to just say that the public had been waiting for a name brand film that looked light and funny and decent to watch and take the kids to?

Max Braden: This has to be considered a success. If the number holds, it puts it ahead of Kung Fu Panda and even WALL-E. And the first Madagascar opened to $47 million three years ago.

Kim Hollis: I agree that it's an unqualified success. It's done a great job of improving on the opening weekend of the original Madagascar, and also has scored higher in the positive review department. It's an easy choice for families right now, and that should not change until Bolt hits theaters.

David Mumpower: Like Kung Fu Panda before it, this is the largest non-Shrek opening for DreamWorks Animation. Given the blockbuster success of the panda, an even better performance by the Madagascar sequel is tremendous. Of course, all this does is reinforce just how spectacular a success the Shrek franchise has been. Add the openings of these two films together and you still barely exceed Shrek the Third's $121.6 million debut.


Stupid adorable cuddly animals

Kim Hollis: This is the second $60+ million opening for DreamWorks Animation this year (after Kung Fu Panda) and it surpasses WALL-E's $63.1 million opening in June. Why is DreamWorks Animation having a better year than Pixar?

Brandon Scott: "Better" year is kind of relative here. We have DreamWorks' two films to Pixar's one, so maybe it's not a fair fight to this point. WALL-E actually slightly out-grossed Kung Fu Panda stateside, though I know that the budget was significantly higher. I think there are a few things at play here. Kung Fu Panda had Jack Black voicing it and having the panda versus the blips and beeps of WALL-E, I think it was a little easier for kids to take. That was a welcome surprise. Couple that with an established audience for Madagascar 2, due to it being a sequel, and I think that's your answer. Rather than say one is besting the other this year, I think its more of a story that DreamWorks is emerging as a potential equal. While it is still too early to tell if that's the case, 2008 returns have to be encouraging.

Scott Lumley: I'm going to say that it's happening because they've realized they can make an animated film without the word "Shrek" in the title. Mike Myers' hands just got real clammy when he saw these numbers.

Max Braden: Furry animals are cuddlier than metal robots. I heard that from a singing chihuahua.

Kevin Chen: Brandon Scott's sequel answer is probably the right answer for the strength of the opening, but as always, success is a marathon and not a sprint. According to IMDb, WALL-E's domestic gross wound up at $222 million whereas Kung-Fu Panda ended at $215 million. My guess is that Madagascar 2 falls short of both of those totals. There has also been talk of a Best (not Animated) Picture push for WALL-E at this year's Oscars, and while both of DreamWorks' entries to date this year have been entertaining, neither film has the chops to warrant a similar effort.

Kim Hollis: I agree that it's all a matter of degrees and though I asked the question, I wouldn't necessarily say that DreamWorks Animation is having the better year. I suspect that WALL-E will outperform Kung Fu Panda on DVD/Blu-Ray, especially because Disney/Pixar have done some really special things with that packaging. And while I am dubious of WALL-E's chances of actually receiving a Best Picture Oscar nomination, the fact that it's in the conversation does speak to its high quality. Kudos really should go to DreamWorks Animation, though. They have done a fantastic job in marketing both of their releases in 2008 and they delivered the goods on Kung Fu Panda.

David Mumpower: To my mind, WALL-E's support is along the lines of The Iron Giant in that the film's die-hard fans are ever so passionate in support of the film. In reality, many (maybe even most) people view it as a fine film that falls a bit short of Pixar's heritage, which breaks my heart. Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar 2 do not have the high end support that WALL-E does, but that isn't required to be the people's choice. As consumers, we speak with our dollars and the reality is that both Dreamworks Animation releases in 2008 have achieved similar success to Pixar's one. As such, they make it up in volume.

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