Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
November 1, 2011
Kim Hollis: I tend to agree that timing played a part in the deflated opening here. Halloween weekend just isn't a great time for any movie, let alone a kid flick. I do think there's some element of Shrek fatigue as well, even though Puss in Boots is the best part of any Shrek movie I've ever seen (and that amounts to just the first two - it's not a series for me overall, though I did like the second film precisely because of Puss in Boots). Of course, none of this will matter too terribly much for the studio since the lion's (kitty's) share of the revenue will come from overseas.
David Mumpower: I think we all agree that Halloween has proven once again that it is an anti-holiday in terms of box office. This was one of the strangest (and worst) release date decisions of our lifetime. The Shrek franchise is targeted at people who spent the weekend doing participating in early Halloween festivities. The madness of it embodies everything DreamWorks Animation has done wrong in not only destroying Shrek but also scorching the Earth in its wake. This was a prized property that they have treated the same way a Lohan treats a bank account. And now the balance is almost empty. They have gone from a $121.6 million opening to $34.1 million in five years. And Puss in Boots is the most popular character remaining. That's how much opportunity cost revenue they have lost by using the franchise as a Bank of Bad Habits.
Kim Hollis: Both of the two major animated sequels this year (Cars 2 and Puss and Boots) have performed modestly to poorly. Is there reason for Pixar and DreamWorks to start worrying, or is it just something about these two properties that is the problem?
Brett Beach: Well, I would include Kung Fu Panda 2 in that mix as well. And I would say that there are different particulars in each case. For Cars 2, as was pointed out by BOP and others back in June, this was really the ignition of a new merchandising blitzkrieg for the Cars brand more than anything else. It was a sequel to perhaps one of the least beloved of Pixar's films (from where I stand, I am not speaking to its popularity among the young set) and it was a strictly for fun, no deeper meanings or exploration of complex emotions to be found here, venture. I am not sure what the expectations were with Puss in Boots. It seems like a bonehead move to have shifted this back from November 4th to a weekend where Halloween would potentially cut into its first weekend earnings. I don't know if this was ever going to be a $200 million earner, but this opening might be the difference between $110 million and $150 million.
Bruce Hall: I think Brett more or less hit the salient points on the head. And you could make logical and discrete cases for the lackluster performance of each of these films. So, I'll make a much less logical case. The blanket thinking side of me says that not enough people were sitting around thinking: "Wow, I sure would like to see a sequel to Cars. I really would like to see 90 minutes of just the cat with the sword. I can't wait to see more of the ADHD panda."
Actually, I'm serious. Despite the individual factors at play here, perhaps it's just a little like bringing something to a potluck that nobody was hungry for. And in the case of Cars 2, (I haven't seen the other two films) it was also a bad movie. Studios have PR staff who are paid good money to find complex causes for simple things. Sometimes in reality, the issue is that your product isn't as good as you think it is, or you overestimated the demand for it. So at the end of the potluck you take home a bruised ego and half a bowl of gaspacho soup.