Cloudy 2 Reigns Over Adult-Oriented Fare
By John Hamann
September 29, 2013
It’s moving weekend at the box office over this late-September frame, as four new major releases appear, along with a 3D limited release and the expansion of a high profile platformer. That means some of the crap gets flushed this weekend, as we had some real old-timers in the top 12 last weekend.
It was never really a race to number one, as the animated sequel, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, was facing off with some dramas and rom-coms. The other new openers and platformers were all adult films that didn’t have a chance against the kids flick, particularly since the marketplace has been bereft of anything for the younger set recently. It’s still September, so the likelihood of Cloudy 2 breaking out was limited. Tracking was hoping for $40 million plus, with Sony desperate to keep those expectations in check, calling for $30 to $40 million. The original opened to $30.3 million over a similar September weekend in 2009, thus setting the bar for the sequel. The first film earned $124.9 million stateside, and $118 million overseas, giving it a combined $243 million take compared to its $100 million budget. Add a strong DVD/Blu-ray release to those numbers, and Sony greenlit a sequel.
The mouthful that is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 improved on the original’s opening weekend box office this weekend, though not by much, missing the higher tracking predictions, but fitting nicely into Sony’s estimate. Cloudy 2 opened on Friday with $9.7 million, and used a strong 3.6 weekend multiplier to turn that Friday into a three-day take of $35 million. The original had a similar internal weekend multiplier of 3.7. Sony made a smart move as they reduced the budget for the sequel, with this one coming in at $78 million versus the original’s $100 million. I’ve always assumed that there are production cost savings for animated sequels as the characters are already created, but those savings would be balanced out by higher fees for voice actors. If the “three times” rule is correct (movies must make three times the production budget back worldwide to be profitable), Cloudy 2 would need to make $234 million worldwide to see profit for the studio, which is $9 million less than what the original earned.
For Sony Animation, a small fish in a world dominated by Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks and the Despicable Me franchise, breaking into the big leagues with these brands has proven difficult domestically. Their biggest release remains Hotel Transylvania, which was released last September. While that film was their biggest, it still managed "only" $148 million in domestic ticket sales, and is followed by the original Smurfs film, which took in $143 million. Where Sony seems to shine, though, is with their overseas sales for these animated films. Hotel Transylvania made $200 million on foreign shores, and the two Smurfs films have combined for $660 million in overseas sales. Currently, Sony Animation has no titles on tap for 2014, but Popeye and sequels to their biggest films (Hotel Transylvania, Smurfs) are set for release in 2015.