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Entries in animated films (252)

Sunday
Mar292015

Box Office: Get Hard at Home While We're Young

Another weekend, more millions in Hollywood coffers for by-most-accounts weak films. The three biggest hits this weekend were all poorly reviewed.

WIDE RELEASE
01 Home $54 NEW
02 Get Hard $34.6 NEW  
03 Divergent: Insurgent $22 (cum. $86.3) 
04 Cinderella $17.5 (cum. $150)  Review
05 It Follows $4 (cum. $4.7)  Review

Yup, the big stories were Home wildly overperforming (we all thought it might flop given Dreamworks history, just documented in Tim's fascinating two-part retrospective) and Get Hard doing well and reinforcing that mainstream audiences love Kevin Hart... and rape jokes. Always the rape jokes.

PLATFORM RELEASE
01 Wild Tales (Argentina) 116 Theaters  $.2 (cum. $1.5) Review
02 What We Do In the Shadows (New Zealand) 146 Theaters $.2 (cum. $2.1) Review
03 While We're Young (US) 4 Theaters $.2 NEW Review
04 Danny Collins (US) 29 Theaters $.2 (cum. $.3)
05 '71 (UK) 121 Theaters $.1 (cum. $.9) Review

Wild Tales held its theaters but the big story was Noah Baumbach's seventh feature While We're Young, charting a surely-soon-to-be-broken 'best indie debut this year' with a $60,000 per screen average. Meanwhile the long and frankly mystifying journey of Serena, starring two or our most bankable actors Bradley Cooper & Jennifer Lawrence and based on a bestselling novel no less, ended with a whimper. The movie finally ended up in theaters, albeit only 60 of them and grossed just over $100,000 in its first week. Meanwhile Hungary's wildly acclaimed and Oscar submitted allegorical thriller about rampaging dogs named White God (read Jose's interview with the director) stuck its toe into two US theaters for $16,000. 

What did you see this weekend? Did any of you see Serena? Was it from morbid curiousity. If you haven't will you please take our advice and seek out Wild Tales or '71?

Thursday
Mar262015

The Rise and Fall of DreamWorks Animation, Part 2: Fall

UPDATE 3/29: Well! Now Home has gone and ruined my entire beautiful narrative arc by wildly outperforming even the most rosily optimistic predictions during its opening weekend, with an estimated $54 million. With that total in its pocket, even under the worst imaginable scenario, it should still glide past $100 million in the United States with ease - $150 mil is certainly in play - and combined with its sterling overseas performance so far, it shouldn't have any problem turning a profit for DreamWorks. The day of reckoning has been put off.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. As DreamWorks's only 2015 release, the studio won't be able to build up any momentum, but it gives the powers that be a good chance to breathe easily and take a good long time to re-work their future plans. Hopefully the right lessons are learned from this ("Non-white girls can sell movies, too") and not the easier wrong ones ("That absolute piece of crap made us money! We don't ever have to try again!), and hopefully it will encourage this and all other animation companies to experiment a little bit more with new properties instead of just retrenching to sequels every time someone says "boo". -Tim

Tim here. Last week, we took a tour through the peak years of DreamWorks Animation, during which time the House That Jeffrey Katzenberg's Hatred of His Old Bosses at Disney Built established itself as the biggest gorilla in American feature animation. And as 2010 dawned, the studio was on the verge of a remarkable achievement. That year, DreamWorks released three feature-length theatrical films – the most any studio had ever produced. It proved to be a great year to do so, an extraordinary year for animation: five of the year's top ten films at both the domestic and worldwide box office were animated, an unmatched record.

That, of course, is exactly the problem. Having perfected a factory for producing animated features that anyone could follow, DreamWorks was as responsible as any studio for the glut of animation that hit in 2009 and has continued largely unabated ever since. By making its products too ubiquitous, the studio was making them routine and increasingly easy to ignore.

Not that it was apparent from the first of the year's releases, How to Train Your Dragon, which netted DreamWorks its best reviews ever and remains its highest-grossing Stateside release without the word "Shrek" in the title. [More...]

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Tuesday
Mar242015

Q&A Part 2: Guilty Pleasures, Boytoys, and Best Animated Feature

Yesterday I  answered reader questions about film sets worth living in and all time favorite actors and I hope that conversation keeps going because I haven't heard from too many of you what your choices are. There were so many good question this week let's keep the party going for an extra day. Here's the next six questions featuring Guilty Pleasures, Oscar's Best Animated Feature and Unseen Classics. One question will be answered in a forthcoming theme week that's already been planned and one final question is getting its own post. 

You can't say we've been slacking here at TFE.

LADY EDITH: Do you have a favorite Altman? 

I do. And it's no contest. I just shout Nashville (1975) as enthusiastically and loudly as I can when asked. Which is not to dismiss the rest of Robert Altman's always at least interesting filmography. My other two favorites are Three Women (1977) for its psychosexual actressing and Gosford Park (2001) for the sheer pleasure of it but I love his movies... well, maybe not Dr T and the Women but I love quite a few of his movies.

JEFF: What's your biggest guilty pleasure movie? Or a movie that most of the readers would be surprised that you happen to love.

After so many years writing online about movies I fear I have no secrets left. I love the usual guilty pleasures and probably talk about them too much (Xanadu and Showgirls chief among them). I suppose in terms of things I rarely write about the #1 guilty pleasure would be that I do kind of have a (small) thing for B grade action movies and affection for the sometimes limited actors that star in them like Jean Claude Van Damme, Jason Statham, and Schwarzenegger of course. This is not a blanket genre appreciation; I never was interested if the movie starred Steven Seagal or Sylvester Stallone. I've seen Highlander (1986) with Christopher Lambert several times because my brother and his friends loved it. I loved Universal Soldier (1992) for some reason. One truly terrible movie that I used to enjoy with an old friend was Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) starring Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee. This actually happens in it...

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Thursday
Mar192015

The Rise and Fall of DreamWorks Animation, Part 1: Rise

Tim here. It's not often that we come upon a movie which could be even semi-plausibly described as holding the fate of a studio in its hands, but next week we'll have just such a release, as DreamWorks Animation release its 28th feature (31 if you count their collaborations with Aardman), the sci-fi comedy Home. This comes at a perilous time for Dreamworks: after two and a half years of underperformers and outright flops, the company has been forced to slash its staff, write-off costly upcoming projects, and shutter the PDI DreamWorks studio, one of its main production hubs.

What brings a formerly prosperous studio, the biggest name in animation for a little while, just a decade ago, to such a precarious state? This week and next, we're going to try to answer that question with a little history of DreamWorks Animation, its greatest successes and its most sobering failures.

The company began when Steven Spielberg, newly-ousted Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen joined forces in 1994 to form DreamWorks SKG, an ambitious attempt to create a major movie studio right out of the gate. Katzenberg had been instrumental in overseeing the Disney Renaissance, which had just seen its biggest success in the form of The Lion King, and with animation riding high at the box office, it made sense for this new Hollywood megaforce to have a cartoon studio all its own. With Spielberg's Amblimation and the newly-acquired PDI forming the spine of DreamWorks's 2-D and CGI animation divisions, respectively, the company immediately threw itself into competing directly with Disney.

Directly with Disney.

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Thursday
Mar122015

Tim's Toons: Animated features to watch for in 2015

Tim here. Team Experience is in the midst of unrolling our We Can’t Wait list, and Nathaniel has already devoted some attention to some of the more intriguing potential blockbusters that missed out on our top 15. And so now it falls to me as the Film Experience’s resident animation guy to draw your attention to some of the animated features set to show up in 2015. None of the big names here - I assume you’ll be able to find the new Pixar films without my help - this is all about some of the little titles that might otherwise slip between the cracks.

When Marnie Was There

The 20th, and perhaps the last theatrical film produced by Studio Ghibli, is about a lonely young woman sent to the country for her health, who befriends one of the locals, Marnie. But as the two spend time together, it becomes clear that something slightly paranormal is going on.

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Thursday
Mar052015

Cinderella Week: Disney's Animated Cinderella (1950)

With Disney's new live-action Cinderella nearly upon us, Team Experience is taking a look at some of the screen adaptations of Charles Perrault's classic fairy tale. Here's Tim to kick it off (the glass slipper et al.) - Editor

What better place to start Cinderella week, than with Disney's own version of the story? I give you the 2007 direct-to-video masterwork Cinderella III: A Twist in Time !


Wait, no, that's absolutely not right at all.

I give you Cinderella (1950)! The classic that saved Walt Disney Productions from extinction, birthed the studio's Silver Age Renaissance, and created the most princessy of all the characters in the Disney Princess marketing line-up, the one who will lead them into battle if they ever team up, Avengers-style, to save the world.

And it is kind of baffling to me that Disney has never apparently thought to go that route. [More...]

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