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Dreamworks To Take A Big Financial Hit On 'Rise of the Guardians'

Box Office
by Sergio
December 4, 2012 9:51 PM
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Peter Ramsey

It's almost guaranteed that animated films, even mediocre ones, do extremely well at the box office. Well almost guaranteed.  There are some that don't. Recent case in point: Dreamworks Animation's latest film Rise of the Guardians.

First, before we get to that, recall that Guardians is the first big budget, major studio animated film to be directed by an African-American, Peter Ramsey (pictured above) who I profiled back in late October HERE.

And things looked good for the film with some knowledgeable box office experts predicting that the film was going to be major box office winner. However things didn't turn out exactly that way.

According to film industry insider website The Wrap, Dreamworks Animation is going to lose some $50 million on the film, according to one studio executive. With a reported budget of $145 million, the film has been under-performing at the box office.

There is some hope that the film could improve over the Christmas holidays since there is little competition for family friendly fare aside from the re-release of Pixar's Monsters Inc reformatted into 3D, but that won't really change the dismal outlook for the film. According to one film industry analyst Marla Backer"I can't see anything they can do to try to really tweak the performance of the film, but I also think it would be a little premature of them to announce a write-off. Let's see how it plays over the holidays."

So what happened? Perhaps the film was badly marketed promoting it an unbearably sweet, syrupy, kiddie movie when it was completely something else instead..

Or perhaps the audience for this type of animated films has grown bored with them, unless they're made by Pixar.. As entertainment stock market analyst Ben Mogil was quoted: "What we take from this 'Guardians' experience is that where once there was an implied domestic box-office floor on a movie from the company, particularly in the 3D era, of $150 million, that is no longer the case. Also clearly no longer the case is the mantra that the lack of competing animated titles will automatically grant a movie clear box office sailing."

As for what this means for Ramsey and his career, I seriously doubt he has anything to worry about. True, the disappointing response for Guardians will be be a blow, but he's very talented and extremely well liked and established in the film industry, with lots of important and influential friends. He'll be back soon, hard at work on new projects

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  • Jeni | December 5, 2012 6:21 PMReply

    I hope that the blame doesn't get pinned on the director. Based on the commercial, the animation just looked too gloomy and unattractive. The concept just seemed out of whack with most popular kids' movies--no cute or eye-catching characters or catchphrases. I can't imagine kids wanting any of the characters as toys.

  • Geneva Girl | December 5, 2012 12:28 PMReply

    It's funny that this is posted today. Based on the trailer I wasn't looking forward to it, but after reading the comments I now am. I was just trying to figure out how to take my munchkin to see it. The English version is, of course, playing at an inconvenient theater at an inconvenient time. (I refuse to see dubbed American movies. I'll see French movies in French, but not American movies in French. So, my choices are limited.)

  • Pk | December 4, 2012 11:57 PMReply

    Poor marketing. I actually suggested this for my family because of seeing it on this site. The trailer did nothing to captivate the intended audience.

    It was a funny, magical , heartwarming film about innocence, purpose, & family. There should've been a good joke in the trailer.

    There is a Santa & elves in the film. Why not use a clip of the running gag of Santa's helper painting the toys/ eggs the wrong color in the trailer?

    Its not exactly a Christmas film but the toy shop is headquarters & they deliver presents & use Santa/Mr.North's sled frequently. No reason that this film should underperform in December. I work with kids & kids don't really know about this. It works for adults in the nostalgic sense as well

  • Africameleon | December 4, 2012 10:34 PMReply

    I actually REALLY liked this movie. So I hope that their box office improves in the long run. I like the Losers too, and I wished they'd done a sequel but the studios would not support it.

  • D.C. Kirkwood | December 4, 2012 10:24 PMReply

    I have mixed views on this one. I think they are being premature as far as the box office is concerned. I agree they should wait until after the holidays to make a judgment. Plus is you consider all the other big box office films that are still playing you can see why the sales may be low. Some of my friends went to see the film and they said the film was just average and mediocre at best. The cast and their voice over work is what saved the film. This may hurt his career because you see you haven't heard much from Sylvain White since the Losers tanked horribly at the box office and on dvd. It was his first time doing a comic book adaption. I think African American filmakers are penalized differently when a movie flops is my whole point. So we will see.

  • Charles Judson | December 5, 2012 12:53 AM

    I'd also add that THE A-TEAM on first glance looks like it did much better, but even it's not getting a sequel. THE EXPENDABLES and it's sequel did 3 times their budgets, but they're loaded with a who's who of action stars. Not sure if anyone really blames White alone for what looks like a genre that's not as mainstream as generally assumed. Most of the action hits of the last few years are still mostly the Liam Neeson, Jason Statham, headliner variety. Even ensemble films like OCEAN'S ELEVEN were still built around Clooney and Pitt at the core. From the script to the marketing.

  • Charles Judson | December 5, 2012 12:42 AM

    @D.C. Isn't a bit early to declare either White or Ramsey Persona Non Grata? White has a film in post-production and he's been directing TV. This isn't the studio system when filmmakers were cranking out two or three films a year. THE LOSERS was released in 2010. Very few filmmakers within Hollywood are outputting more than a film every two years. Even Nolan has been averaging a a feature film every two years since MEMENTO. @Torre Marc Forster has a body of work that's been Oscar nominated as well as financially successful at the Box Office, including having the third highest grossing Bond film on his resume. Not even relevant. And even then, for every few ISHTARs there are the TITANICs. Ramsey appears to have a long history in Hollywood working on a range of projects. For all we know, another project, a lower budget, and he's a media darling. As of now, very few write-ups seem to be blaming Ramsey and are instead laying blame at the feet of Dreamworks Animation for miscalculating that 3D computer animation was a guarantee to get most of their budget back domestically, and that they could make most of their money overseas. That may have not been the best gamble when you've got a film with that size budget and characters pulled from Western mythology and storytelling. Releasing the film at Thanksgiving may not have necessarily stamped the film as Judeo-Christian alone, but it's close. I'm curious what a revamped and expanded lineup pulling from more traditions would have done for the film.

  • Torre | December 4, 2012 11:46 PM

    case in point Marc Foster's world war z is a utter disaster buthe still have a shit load of projects lined up.

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