Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

December 14, 2009

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2-D animation? Five-year-olds have never even seen it!

Kim Hollis: Disney's The Princess and the Frog, a return to 2-D animation after a couple of years hiatus, earned $24.2 million this weekend. How should the studio feel about this result?

Josh Spiegel: I would imagine a bit disappointed, frankly. Disney has been touting this movie for the entire year, and for the film to not get a higher opening weekend may feel sour for some executives and John Lasseter. Of course, on the other hand, with the Christmas season being mostly forgiving to family films (for example, Disney's A Christmas Carol is very close to making four times its opening weekend), Princess and the Frog is probably going to end up with a nice amount of dough at the end of the day. Still, I bet Disney was hoping for a much higher result.

Max Braden: That's only a moderate improvement over Atlantis: The Lost Empire's $20 million opening in 2001 and much less than Lilo & Stitch's $35 million in 2002, and The Princess and the Frog looks more traditional-Disney than either of those. It might add insult to injury if Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 makes a load of money too. But really The Princess and the Frog allows Disney to add another character to their Princesses lineup, which means plenty of money in related items.


Jim Van Nest: Ya know, the studio may well be disappointed with this result, but I'm a bit surprised. I was beginning to think that 2-D animation was a lost art. I honestly didn't know if people would go to the theater for it anymore. Bottom line, there's at least six different cable stations now devoted to nothing but 2-D animation. It seemed to me like people would only show up for the stuff they CAN'T get on TV - Pixar, Shrek XVIII, Ice Age - Oh Crap, Global Warming, etc. I'm very excited to see that a traditional animated project can still win a weekend.

Matthew Huntley: On the one hand, the studio should be grateful there's still an audience willing to pay for 2-D animation, and if the cost for making these features can be lessened, the format may stick around for a while. On the other, $24 million is on the lower end of expectations and may not justify the film's reported $100 million budget. The studio probably preferred something more in the $35 million range, which would better guarantee a final box office north of $100 million, but they're probably expecting decent legs with this one (so long as Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 doesn't provide too fierce of competition). Right now, I think it's too early to say whether or not this weekend's performance was good or not, but my guts tell me the studio is disappointed.

Michael Lynderey: That number's a little lukewarm, that's for sure. It's a muddle of ambiguity - not the kind of breakout result that would get the Disney folks' fists pumping in the air, and definitely not an outright disappointment, either. As with many movies this time of year, the total this one carries one month from now will really tell the tale on how Princess/Frog is going to be remembered. If it's around $90 million - and I suspect that's going to be the case - then Disney should be pleased if not overly enthused. If the picture takes in more than that, I'd call it a strong win, especially considering that would make it one of only three traditionally animated films to cross $100 million this decade.

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