Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

December 9, 2015

Eye of the tiger! Yeah!

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Kim Hollis: Pixar's The Good Dinosaur debuted with $39.2 million from Friday-to-Sunday and $55.6 million over the five-day portion of the Thanksgiving holiday box office. It has earned $76 million since its debut. What do you think of this result?

Jason Barney: The opening of The Good Dinosaur is a bit interesting in that Pixar has gone the route of beloved child interest, relying on dinosaurs for their holiday product. I think that aspect of the creative effort is a major win. As long as the product is good, it should perform very well over the next several weeks. The five-day Thanksgiving take of $55 million was good and the $75 million at this point is strong enough, but I was amazed by the size of the price tag for this. $200 million seems like an awful steep figure, so the holds and family audiences need to be strong for this to match its production budget. Obviously the formula of using international box office as part of the path to profitability is part of the equation, but having to score $600 million is a big task. This needs a strong holiday run, no doubt. The word-of-mouth should be positive enough with the 76% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

Kim Hollis: Sadly, The Good Dinosaur has the potential to be the lowest grossing Pixar film. The holidays may prop it up some, but the concern is that a 76% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes for Pixar is like a 20% fresh rating for anyone else. Fair or not, people have come to expect (much) more from Pixar. The good news for them is that 2015 will be remembered as the year they released Inside Out, and The Good Dinosaur will be little more than a footnote. I will say this, though. At least it looks like they gave it their best shot after the production difficulties the film went through early on. It’s tough to overcome that sort of thing, particularly with animated projects. It’s just tough to be an animated dinosaur film during the same year we got a whopper of a CGI dino film in Jurassic World.


Ben Gruchow: The $200 million figure for this movie is a little misleading, because I don't think all of it was spent on what we see on the screen. The production issues that The Good Dinosaur went through are fairly well-known, and any time you have a movie that changes creative teams and goes back to the drawing board and gets delayed by more than a year, you're going to end up with an inflated budgetary figure. Look at Tangled from 2010, and its gigantic $260 million price tag; that was another film that underwent a significant creative change during the production process. If anything, I have a feeling that $175-$200 million falls under what Pixar probably spent on this. The movie looks incredible on a technical level, and the visual approach the studio went with could have easily filled a $175 million budget or so on its own.

I think the simplicity and the elementary level of the story and theme came through in the advertising, and I think what we've seen here is a film that appealed mostly to younger children, while older children, teenagers, and adults gave it a pass. The opening weekend and projected domestic finish (around $130-$140 million) is similar to the Rio and Hotel Transylvania films (ironically, and not accounting for inflation, the gross is extremely close to 2000's Dinosaur). Foreign grosses aren't really inspiring either, and we've probably got the lowest-grossing Pixar film to date, with or without inflation.

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