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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Summer Counting, Always A Blast…

Jeffrey Katzenberg is a brilliant guy… except when he shoots his mouth off in public. Since DreamWorks Animation has gone public, JK’s public statements have been dangerous stuff. And once again, Reuters reports, he is overreaching more than a little while addressing a Bank of America conference.
He starts…
“Everyone is going to see Shrek. Everyone is going to see Pirates. Everyone is going to see Spider-Man,” he said. “The difference is which one of those movies are going to get multiple viewings.”
Fair enough… though the use of the word “everyone” is one of those Hollywood headed usages. A $400 million domestic gross probably means fewer than 50 million Americans going to the box office. That is a massive number… but hardly “everyone.” This is also the Passion of the Christ lesson that no one seems to want to hand onto.
He continues…
While describing “Shrek the Third” as “good” and “a worthy successor” to its blockbuster forebears, Katzenberg suggested that his green ogre could have an advantage over Spidey and Pirate Jack Sparrow during the “unprecedented” month of blockbusters.
“We are the only family film, the only PG-rated movie and we are 81 minutes long. That pretty much means we are going to tend to get one-and-a-half to two shows for every one of theirs because they are longer films,” Katzenberg said.

Katzenberg is right that on the face of it, Shrek The Third has a big advantage in that it crosses over, but is also a very muscular kids film for kids of all ages. This held up for Shrek II and Finding Nemo in their summers… even Cars, which looked like it might underperform last summer.
However, Shrek The Third faces a much harsher fight for the family dollar this summer than Shrek II did in 2004. Two weeks after opening, Sony throws Surf’s Up at it… and three weeks later, Pixar’s Ratatouille… and that’s not to mention Nancy Drew or Fantastic Four or Evan Almighty. Shrek II faced only a Potter movie of any size, with Pixar holding for November with The Incredibles.
In addition, as far as I can tell, no four-day weekend has ever cracked $300 million. So why through out that $800 million number? And how can he say that there will not be screen count issues by mid-June? Will theaters be holding multiple screens or even full day screening schedules for the downslope of Shrek The Third with Ratatouille coming in? (Answer: No.)

41 Responses to “Summer Counting, Always A Blast…”

  1. Eric says:

    Is anyone here looking forward to another Shrek movie? Serious question. I don’t know anyone who’s really interested in this series, but maybe I’m not in touch with the audience for it.

  2. David Poland says:

    I think that’s a Spidey issue as well.
    It’s not that any of the three huge films will not get to $250 million. But if Spidey goes darker, keeping the younger kids out of the theaters, that will hurt. And Shrek II was a shocking phenom when it happened. Pirates III has the advantage of closing the trilogy story, though X-Men was the rare case of the third film trending up at the box office.
    It’ll be interesting.

  3. jeffmcm says:

    What’s a Spidey issue, that noone’s really interested in the series?
    I can say that unless I hear good word-of-mouth, I will be ignoring Shrek 3 based on my experiences on the first two. But I’m not a kid, nor do I have any.

  4. Eric says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Pirates 3 gets some real backlash after the success of Pirates 2. I don’t think it’s deserved, because I think they’re fun movies, but people hate arrogance and they hate success. Filming sequels back-to-back smells like arrogance. Seeing them make a ton of money makes it that much worse.

  5. GayAsXmas says:

    I don’t hate the Shrek films, but they represent Dreamworks Animation’s most irritating habit – replacing character comedy with cheap, frivolous pop-culture references. Admittedly the Shrek films were nowhere near the travesty of Shark Tale (a film with ugly animation and an ugly script – seriously, compared to Finding Nemo, it looked like something done on a Commodore 64), but they reek of stunt casting. I will probably end up seeing it on DVD, but personally, it doesn’t compare to my anticipation for Spidey 3, Pirates 3 and Ratatouille.
    However, I know I am pretty much in the minority with Shrek – people love it, and a lot of my friends (of all ages!) will still regularly watch the first two. I think it will out-gross Pirates and Spidey but I think all three films will lose tens of millions of potential box office just because the studios are thinking with their dicks instead of their wallets.

  6. GayAsXmas says:

    I don’t hate the Shrek films, but they represent Dreamworks Animation’s most irritating habit – replacing character comedy with cheap, frivolous pop-culture references. Admittedly the Shrek films were nowhere near the travesty of Shark Tale (a film with ugly animation and an ugly script – seriously, compared to Finding Nemo, it looked like something done on a Commodore 64), but they reek of stunt casting. I will probably end up seeing it on DVD, but personally, it doesn’t compare to my anticipation for Spidey 3, Pirates 3 and Ratatouille.
    However, I know I am pretty much in the minority with Shrek – people love it, and a lot of my friends (of all ages!) will still regularly watch the first two. I think it will out-gross Pirates and Spidey but I think all three films will lose tens of millions of potential box office just because the studios are thinking with their dicks instead of their wallets.

  7. allsux says:

    frankly, i think that the shrek’s were a breath of fresh air … they showed a nice blend of adult and kid humor, truly a family movie set in the sense that they can be watched and enjoyed by everyone in the family. spiderman, however, was completely vapid – predictable storylines, simplified plots, bad writing. just one man’s opinion :) http://www.allsux.com w00t

  8. Direwolf says:

    At the same Bank of America conference, Regal’s CEO mentioned that he thought that if the studios worked with the exhibitors on placing the big films on the calendar that the overall box office could be increased by 10%. 10% seems high to me but I believe it is true that packing all the big films into May – mid July and the Christmas holiday deos hurt some films sometimes. There have been plenty of big numbers on various weekends throughout the year and screen congestion would be less of an issue. One factor here is DVDs. The holiday season is huge and that makes a May thru July release especailly valuable.
    I thinks Pirates will be the highest grosser of the three as it is very fresh relative to the others and has storymomentum off the last films.

  9. EDouglas says:

    BTW, Surf’s Up opens three weeks after Shrek the Third and Ratatouille is well over a month after it opens (6/29). I do think it does have more competition than Shrek 2 in terms of legs and I don’t think it will make $400 million but I do think it will do very well (over $300 million for sure)

  10. Me says:

    If it was 3-D, I’d be there, but otherwise I’ll wait for Shreck on Netflix. Spidey and Pirates (and Ratatouie – unless the reviews come back really bad) I’ll see in the theater.

  11. Aladdin Sane says:

    A Brad Bird film getting bad reviews – there’s something new. I think that Ratatouille could be the first to be more split than loved. I dunno, it just doesn’t look that good. I could be wrong, and I hope to eat those words.
    As for Shrek the Third, I’ll be seeing it. I really liked the first one, thought the second one was entertaining enough, if unnecessary. So I imagine the third to be more of the same. A good matinee filler.

  12. PetalumaFilms says:

    The original SHREK is awesome…and has a perfect script. The 2nd one was as someone descibed it- a mess of pop culture jokes, celebrity voice cameos and a weak story. I work with kids and they still love the first one and could care less about #2. Huh huh…#2. I think Shrek 3 will do o.k.
    I also think Spiderman 3 will be HUGE! It looks great and (once again) I work with kids and their buzzing about it. I swear, movie studios should use me to gauge how the buzz is going, I’m never wrong. Incidentally, little kids don’t really like the Harry Potter movies. Books, yes. They see the movies but don’t really like them and if I had a nickel for every KID that’s said the movies aren’t as good as the books…I wouldn’t have to work with kids any more.

  13. Joe Leydon says:

    “This is also the Passion of the Christ lesson that no one seems to want to hand onto.”
    True enough. But people also tend to overlook that a lot of the movie’s gross likely came from repeat viewers, people who went again and again and again, almost out of a sense of religious duty. Seriously. I admit, I have only anecdotal evidence to back that up, but…

  14. jeffmcm says:

    Another thread headline pun based on a Broadway showtune.

  15. Sandy says:

    I don’t think any of these films will disappoint box office wise – but IMO Disney couldn’t put off opening POTC3 later because clashing with Ratatouille or HP5 was not an option.

  16. Sandy says:

    Oops – must be sleepy today. Forget that last sentence.

  17. bmcintire says:

    I’m guessing SHREK 3, POTC3 and SPIDEY 3 will all do roughly the same business for roughly the same reason: little kids love them and adults are willing to see them. RATATOUILLE looks like the underperformer to me. And speaking of which, is MEET THE ROBINSONS tracking at all? I have yet to hear anyone (of any age) express even the slightest of interest in this thing.

  18. Wrecktum says:

    If you happened to see the Ratatouille reel at ShoWest (I think EDouglas did?) then you know how wonderful it looks. Whether or not you’ve liked the early marketing, the movie looks like it delivers big time. Can’t wait.

  19. Me says:

    I want to see Meet the Robinsons, primarily because the 3-D is supposed to be good, and I find the dinosaur bit in the commercials funny. The last numbers I heard said a mid-20s opening.

  20. Direwolf says:

    I think the Ratatouille trailer looks great but isn;t that funny. I assume the ShoWest reel had more. Assuming it is good, it has broad appeal. All that matters to me as a Disney shareholder is that it outdraws Cars domestic and intl.
    Reviews look good for Meet The Robinsons. I was at a Prudential Securities conference on Tuesday and met with folks from borth Dreamworks and Disney. I didn’t get the impression anyone thought MTR was going to do well. Several well informed buy side analysts (work for money managers) also seemed down on it. Mid $20s would be good. The book it is based on is fantastic but it looks like the film departs wholly.
    Blades of Glroy also getting decent reviews. They don’t really matter bit I thought they’d be horrible. I think this one could do very well. North of $40.

  21. Cadavra says:

    Everyone expected CARS to underperform, based in part on a less than enthralling trailer. They were wrong. The RAT trailer looks fabulous, plus, as noted, it’s Brad Bird. To me that screams must-see, and I won’t be alone.
    However, I thought the first SHREK was decent but way overrated, and the second just an exhausted rehash. I certainly wouldn’t go see 3 if I had to pay, but at only 81 min., I’ll think about it.

  22. movielocke says:

    I think Ratatouille will enjoy Nemo like legs that cars didn’t possess, I don’t know that it’ll hit nemo numbers or surpass them, but I think it’ll be a similar type of success.
    all the threequels will probably do well, though I think Shrek is most likely to become the punching bag of the others. I see Surf’s Up as not connecting at all, penguins or not.
    I thought MTR was looking at a 45-60 weekend, Ice Age numbers, but I haven’t seen tracking, just gut instinct on that one with the massive nonstop kid/family demo push it’s been getting. Blades of Glory, which I have seen I could see doing 25-40, it’ll be a big weekend for both, methinks.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    I noticed a change in the marketing this week for Blades of Glory – whereas most of the jokes in the ads have played up things like Heder and Ferrell’s faces in each others’ crotches, the new ads are pointing out gags where Ferrell hits on attractive ladies with exposed cleavage.
    Didn’t 300 tell Hollywood that homophobia is hot right now?

  24. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Not sure JK said anything strange…and while I don’t imagine many folks frequenting this blog are dying for another Shrek, I’m sure just about every 9 year old is.
    Did we all see that the MPAA hit back against the Elisha Cuthbert/Roland Joffe film????

  25. jeffmcm says:

    Interesting re: Captivity. I don’t know that much about the costs associated, but it seems like the logical thing to do to protect their investment is to delay the release until August or so. Right?

  26. I don’t hate Shrek, but I do hate Shrek 2 with the burning fire of a thousand suns. Lazy, unfunny, crappy, and still as mean-spirited as the first one. That movie was outdated the day it was released (seriously, Livin’ La Vida Loca?)
    Ratatouille looks great I reckon.
    1. Ratatouille
    2. Spiderman 3
    3. Bourne 3
    4. Pirates 3
    But stating Pirates 3 as my fourth most anticipated is like saying Lost Highway is my fourth favourite David Lynch movie cause I still give that one 10/10.

  27. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I think the controversy over CAPTIVITY is probably quite good for the film and that without it no one would care, so I’d release it as soon as possible. Then again, I’m not sure anyone outside of folks in HW care at all, so what do I know? But that kind of publicity doesn’t hurt a film like that…

  28. Nicol D says:

    I’m putting my money on Pirates 3 for king of the summer.
    The second one had much critical backlash, and now I think the time is right to revel in Johnny D again. I also think they combine the best of what family films should be; exciting, funny, adventurous and a little bit scary. They also have beautiful cast members that appeal to men and women alike. A winning combo.
    Spiderman 3 I think will ever so slightly underperform because the first two had, for the most part, much critical acclaim. If Spidey goes too dark, which looks very probable, many will say the joy is lost. Spiderman is not by definition a dark character.
    As for Shrek 3, I think the bloom is off that rose. Not financially mind you…it will make money, but the second one is not fondly remembered and the Shrek films, with far too many pop-culture references, date very poorly. I watched the first one when the second was released and it already felt very old. I have no interest in this at all. Many families also thought Shrek 2 was too ‘adult’ in many of its gags.
    JeffMCM,
    “Didn’t 300 tell Hollywood that homophobia is hot right now?”
    Just to clarify, you called-ME-paranoid and silly in another thread. Just clarifying that.
    No Jeff, 300 was many people crying out for well-told stories with time-honoured themes they can relate to like honor, chivalry and sacrifice all wrapped up in one of the most stunning looking films I have seen in years. If it was just the geek/fanboys seeing this it would have stalled at Sin City/Kill Bill box office levels.
    More 300’s at a similar cost are exactly the formula I was talking about a few weeks ago when I said Hollywood needed more films that spoke to a wider audience. You can do blockbusters more effectively and economically…you just need to have a soul to compensate.
    This is the lesson of The Passion’s success.

  29. jeffmcm says:

    300, while visually well-made, is not a well-told story, nor is it about ‘honor, chivalry and sacrifice’. It’s about bloodlust, xenophobia, and rage. I was glad when the New Yorker (a source I’m sure you don’t care about) reviewed it and concluded by calling it ‘a product of a culture going slowly and painfully insane’.

  30. jeffmcm says:

    Forgive me for saying this, but if you don’t think 300 is homophobic, there are three options: you’re lying to me, you’re lying to yourself, or you weren’t paying attention. I’m happy to give you the benefit of the doubt of #3.

  31. Nicol D says:

    JeffMCM,
    …but Jeff, what happened to the ‘it’s only a movie’ refrain?
    Funny how people like you have no problem with the ‘it’s only a movie’ refrain when individuals other than yourself are offended, but then resort to the most extreme of hysteria when the rare film dares to offend your oh-so-PC and delicate sensibilities.
    ‘a product of a culture going slowly and painfully insane’.
    Can I have a side order of hyperbole with that rhetoric?
    As for your little ‘is it homophobic’ tirade?
    You seem to forget option number 4; I reject your notion of ‘modern’ film criticism that says I must overlook things such as story, acting, directing etc. and judge a film by how politically correct it is.
    I know you judge films that way…I do not. I’m sure you will miss out on many good films having such a simple outlook and like many films that are bad.
    Life and art are far more complex than that.
    Indeed, political correctness is antithetical to art.
    Nevertheless, I eagerly await your sure-to-come lecture on the semiotics of neo-capitalistic, fascistic, anti-homo-hetero-normative propaganda that is Will Ferrell’s Blades of Glory.

  32. Blackcloud says:

    Homophobia? What about all the other phobias “300” evinces? I’m not sure there’s one it doesn’t have some claim to. Well, maybe triskaidekaphobia, but that’s it.

  33. Blackcloud says:

    Chivalry? In “300”? Two thousand years before the concept existed? And without horses? WTF?

  34. jeffmcm says:

    Nicol, I watch a movie for its content, which is expressed through its narrative, its visuals, and its performances. Yes, I watch a movie through a political filter – everyone does. You would not appreciate a movie that was well-crafted but which demonizes Catholics or whatever group you think you’re a part of this week, this is a well-established fact.
    Your insistence on blaming all of this on PC is your petty bias, not mine. I’d like to see you explain this in greater detail. It’s a worthy conversation to have but I think its based on a huge number of assumptions that you’re making.
    Suffice to say that you’re the one arguing in favor of viewership simplicity and ignorance, not me.
    300 has a thin story by anyone’s criteria; the acting is generally stilted and repetitive; the visuals are strong but the film as a whole is empty. I defy you to name one non-technical aspect of the movie that is awards-worthy in any way – all the craft in the world can’t redeem a story that is hollow in its content and noxious in its execution. You like the movie because it fulfills certain emotional and visceral wants that you have, which is fine as long as you are honest with yourself about them. The question we have to ask when addressing and form of art is, who am I when I’m watching this movie? What are this movie’s (or book’s, or painting’s) assumptions and pretexts?
    300’s homophobia is writ large and small, in the offhand remark about the “Athenian boy lovers and philosophers” whom the Spartans are favorably compared with as hale and hearty red-blooded family folk, in the depiction of Xerxes as a freakish RuPaul-esque bejewelled drag queen carried around by a fleet of boy-slaves and accompanied by a horde of Lesbians; and in the scene of seduction where Xerxes all but gives Leonidas a neckrub. These are the facts of the movie, not just some crazy interpretation. By blinding yourself to them, you are the one who is enjoying something soul-rotting, not me.

  35. jeffmcm says:

    “Nevertheless, I eagerly await your sure-to-come lecture on the semiotics of neo-capitalistic, fascistic, anti-homo-hetero-normative propaganda that is Will Ferrell’s Blades of Glory.”
    I actually expect this to be pretty good considering how smart Talladega Nights was. The fact that you’re deciding to scornfully bundle all of these terms together is clear indication that you have no idea what any of it means, like an ignorant child lashing out. Sorry you didn’t get laid more in college.

  36. Wrecktum says:

    Why don’t we call 300 what it actually is: fascist propaganda. Someday someone will write a fascinating study comparing 300 to Nazi iconography.

  37. Blackcloud says:

    ^ I did call it fascist propaganda. Actually, I called it Nazi propaganda. Same difference.

  38. Lota says:

    Nazi and fascist are the same thing, even though Hitler/Goebbels tried to make their gravy train look like a “workers” organization (never was).
    Yes I admit I paid to see a matinee of “300” when it first came out, for shallow reasons (to look at men), but the politics and racial implications are pretty grim (and somewhat unexpected. Politics is more noticeable in a movie than in many comics) and in this day and age for young people to cheer it on, it’s almost depressing (so I hope the youth only like the graphics and not the politics).

  39. jeffmcm says:

    ^^There are subtle differences. You can be a fascist and not hate Jews, for example, but that was integral to the Nazis.
    Politics are more noticeable in a movie than in a comic because it’s more of a mass/populist medium, and because the action is playing out right in front of you, all across the country. Lota, I think it’s a lot of column A and a little of column B.

  40. Blackcloud says:

    I think we can agree that Sparta belongs to the non-anti-semitic variety of fascism.

  41. Bob Violence says:

    Everyone expected CARS to underperform, based in part on a less than enthralling trailer. They were wrong.

    What definition of “underperform” are we using here? It’s not like anyone lost their shirt over it, but Cars‘ domestic gross was $20 million less than The Incredibles‘ and the international gap was even wider ($150 million). And of course it didn’t even come close to Finding Nemo (The Incredibles didn’t either, but it at least got within $250 million).

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