New Family Films Facing Uphill Battle
Analysts figure that there's just so much American families can spend on tickets for animated movies -- not to mention popcorn and sodas -- during the summer and that most have already reached that limit. If they're right the remaining family films for July and August may be in for a heap of trouble, beginning with Dreamworks animation/20th Century Fox's Turbo, which opened on Wednesday, followed by Sony's The Smurfs 2 in two weeks and Disney's Planes two weeks after that. Hollywood studios have never released so many summer animation tentpoles, the Hollywood Reporter observed today (Thursday). Each one of them has been years in the making, with budgets of around $100 million -- and some well above that amount. Turbo reportedly cost $135-150 million to produce. But it is expected to take in only about $30-35 million over the weekend, including Wednesday and Thursday receipts. It will need to earn more than ten times that amount to break even. Ordinarily that would not appear to be an overwhelming challenge. Animated family films generally have long legs and benefit from return trips. But that's partly because they have so little competition. Turbo -- ironically about a snail who overcomes formidable odds -- arrives with Universal's Despicable Me holding the crown as the top earner for the second week in a row and with Disney's Monsters University still showing strength at No. 6 on the box-office list. In a note to clients, Doug Creutz of Cowen & Co. said, We are concerned that demand for animated films is sated for the time being. Still, Turbo is not the only film facing an uphill struggle this weekend. Analysts have already written the death notices for Universal's R.I.P.D., another $100-million-plus behemoth that could take in as little as $17 million this weekend. Two other films, however, are likely to perform quite well, especially given their modest budgets: New Line's horror flick The Conjuring and Lionsgate's thriller Red 2.