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Where the Wild Things Are: Too Costly to Succeed?

by Anne Thompson
October 12, 2009 2:17 AM
29 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

Where the Wild Things Are pushes my buttons.

As much as I want studios to step outside the box and take chances on talented filmmakers who do not paint by numbers, every film artist is not Tim Burton. He's an unusual case of a filmmaker who hangs onto his integrity as a film artist while playing the studio game. In part he does it 1) because he wants to be successful and reach a wide audience and 2) he has producer Richard Zanuck to protect him and deal with the suits. Somehow, most of the time, Burton stays true to himself and delivers accessible entertaining movies, often on a high budget. Everyone comes out ahead.

But when Warners took Maurice Sendak's classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are and gave it to Spike Jonze to direct and novelist Dave Eggers to write, they took a path that led to a movie that is neither fish nor fowl. If they had put it through Warner Independent, they could have made a lower-cost indie version of the movie that opens next week. (At the Movies gives the movie two enthusiastic raves. Here's Variety.)

Finally, Jonze is a gifted filmmaker who has crafted an exquisitely beautiful, magical film that will be embraced by many, mostly people of whatever age who are still in touch with their inner child. It will likely play best to really young kids. (Truth is, Jonze and Eggers' script is a tad dull, as was Eggers' other co-writing gig for Away We Go.) After the brilliantly intuitive and sensitive opening sequence and the initial discovery of the animals, the movie slows to a crawl as the characters do a lot of talking. Advance tracking indicates the movie will open well, in the $25-million range. But how will it play? And does it have a chance to make back its costs?

Director Jonze has never made a wide-audience commercial studio movie. His two features, Gramercy/USA Film's Being John Malkovich and Sony's Adaptation, were considered arthouse crossovers, grossing $46.4 million and $32 million worldwide, respectively.

He has never made a family movie, nor a visual effects picture. Thus it was not a huge surprise that Where the Wild Things Are ran into turbulence at Warner Bros., which took the movie in turnaround from Universal. Jonze's initial idea was to shoot the wild things in nine-foot suits with animatronic faces in the jungles of Australia and New Zealand. After a disastrous December 2007 preview of Jonze's first cut, the studio shut down the project. The movie is "dark, adult and deep," wrote Cinemaniac1979 on aint-it-cool-news, "heart-wrenching and scary. This isn't a movie for children -- it's a movie about childhood."

Jonze did reshoots a year after he first shot the movie, mostly of the young lead, Max Record. About 10 minutes were added: two scenes at the start and one at the end. And Warners spent quite a bit on supplying animated CG faces for the animals. Production head Jeff Robinov wanted more emotion for the story and was willing to invest in making the best version of the movie. The budget started out at $75 million and wound up closer to $100 million.

Am I glad I saw this movie? Yes. But did it need to cost $100 million? No. Does it matter if this movie makes its money back?

Newsweek talks to Eggers and Sendak.

The WSJ looks at children's book adaptations.

The LAT looks at Sendak's Wild Things legacy.

Here's a taste of EW's longer feature.

The Chicago Tribune looks at the WTWTA back story.

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29 Comments

  • Steven Merchant | January 18, 2010 3:59 AMReply

    "But did it need to cost $100 million? No."

    Uh... they did the VFX work at Framestore and Rising Sun. Yeah, that's gonna cost money. Like $100 million. You honestly think you could produce it for less? I'd like to see you try.

  • peapod | December 28, 2009 6:07 AMReply

    I loved the film, but it came out at a time when box office openings are low. The film might not make the money back, but awards recognizion and dvd sales will help a lot.

  • Robert | October 18, 2009 12:27 PMReply

    There is a deeper meaning in this story, and it's about war, dictatorship, and the (mis)use of power. From an Israeli newspaper:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1117495.html

    Still, there is a dark, nightmarish aspect to some of the stories, particularly for those adults who see in the visual acknowledgments of Sendak's Yiddish background images that evoke the Holocaust. "Brundibar," with text by playwright Tony Kushner, portrays Czech Jewish ghetto children rebelling against a tyrant who resembles Hitler in an early Sendak sketch for the story. In a later draft, the tyrant turns into a clownish bully, an organ grinder with Napoleonic hat and bluster; but the story of children resisting tyranny remains a poignant tribute to its sources: Czech composer Hans Krasa's opera, and children in the Terezin concentration camp who sang about "Brundibar" in 1943 before they were sent to Auschwitz. On one level, the story is simply a fable in which children rally, sing (despite Brundibar's objections) and drive away the town bully; but it alludes to far more disturbing events of the 1940s and, as in other Sendak works, more meets an adult eye than might be seen by a child. This could explain why many of the drawings at the Contemporary Jewish Museum hang at a height more easily viewed by adults than by small children, as if the kids are not expected to see everything.

    Maurice Sendak's book has, appropriately, been seen as a tome on "children dealing with pent-up anger" and, on a deeper level, about the use and abuse of power. It's also about social acceptance and tribalism (Sendak is gay). Are the "Wild Things" monsters? Is Max a monster? Why did the "Wild Things" make Max king? Was he responsible enough to be king? If we were given the same situation, would we make the right (or wrong) decisions?

    From an American newspaper:

    http://www.tulsaworld.com/Scene/article.aspx?subjectid=268&articleid=20091018_281_D8_MaxRec435526

    "telling a story where, after those 10 sentences, perhaps there wasn't one to tell. "

    Oddly, that the Tulsa reviewer could not find more of a message than "ten sentences" in this movie or book is far scarier than the nightmarish creatures Sendak first brought to life in 1963.

  • Brian | October 15, 2009 3:38 AMReply

    I must be getting slow. I haven't been called a blowhard or a narcissistic dickweed on the internet in over a week.

    As for Jonze being an "overgrown frat boy," just read an account of his reckless, childish behavior while working on the film in the latest Entertainment Weekly (e.g. shooting Dave Eggers in the ass with a BB gun).

  • John M | October 15, 2009 2:03 AMReply

    Brian (the real one, I guess?), your comment's pretty low on substance. (And misguided: I'm still trying to figure out how Spike Jonze is an "overgrown frat boy.") And your thinking seems to be driven almost entirely by personal opinion. You'll probably be right, and Where the Wild Things Are won't make a ton of money, but presuming to know how all families in the universe will react (they'll "stay away in droves"!) just makes you sound like a blowhard.

    One could write a 1000-word essay on why the following parenthetical statement:

    I turned down an invitation to see an advance screening tonight.

    could only be written by a narcissistic dickweed.

  • Brian | October 14, 2009 5:34 AMReply

    This is the REAL Brian. Spike Jonze fanboys (and fangirls) may wax rhapsodic about this film, but that won't pull in the needed family audience, which will stay away in droves. I'm not a Jonze fanboy--I strongly disliked both of his movies--and everything I've read and seen about this movie screams at me to stay away from it. (I turned down an invitation to see an advance screening tonight.) Jonze strikes me as an overgrown frat boy whose creative narcissism is always going to strike a chord with a certain amount of the audience. My inner child is perfectly happy with Pokemon and Power Rangers. My outer adult is the one Jonze is speaking to and it's simply not amused.

  • Worhog | October 13, 2009 11:27 AMReply

    Anne is right, it's a shame that the system is geared up towards making films cost so much. It's a long and interesting story (just look up the various stories on Hollywood's "creative accounting") but often studios are charging their own overheads and bonuses to a production. That's why film's don't get made for $4 million or something by studios and even something like Knocked Up, which an independent could make for virtual beans, costs a studio $20 million. It's not the best example but you only have to look on IMDb's credits at how many Exec. Producers and Producers are listed on WTWTA. Everyone one of them is getting paid well for what they do, but are they all making a massive contribution artistically?

    Whilst I hope WTWTA does well I'm expecting it, overall, to be solid and not spectacular (at very least domestically). I believe, however, it's much more geared towards a European audience where, generally, children and families are a bit more patient and cinematically stimulated (that is a mass generalisation, but it's true on the whole). WTWTA has a curious quality that I think will go down well with foreign audiences but slightly less well for domestic audiences. My optimistic bet is that it will do around $150 million domestically and possibly the same or maybe even a tad more in foreign sales, and a $300 million gross would be pretty good for a film like this; certainly making it profitable when it reaches DVD and TV.

    My pessimistic bet is something more around the $80 million domestic and $70 million foreign, and those figures wouldn't be quite so pleasing. From a strictly business point of view kids films are like toys: they have to be must have items, there and then. WTWTA almost feels a bit too peaceful and caring in its marketing campaign to hit that spot. If you look at films like Ice Age and Up (animated films, I know, but with a similar audience), they're smacking you over the head with that exciting, smash-hit feel. WTWTA has a more gentle approach but, after a busy year for family films (Potter, Transformers - the numbers of which clearly show it was a family film even if it doesn't seem like an obvious choice, Up, Ice Age etc.) it might just struggle to make people flock to the cinema in their droves.

  • Anne Thompson | October 13, 2009 6:36 AMReply

    I double-checked the tracking and I suspect that we should 1) remember that there could be a sizable bump between what the tracking says between now and Friday, and 2) remember that the family audience is the toughest one to track--there are often surprises.

    Folks who know me are aware that I am a weird hybrid critic/reporter/industry analyst who writes about what I think of a movie as well as how it will do at the box office. I credit WB's Jeff Robinov for taking chances here. I applaud him for stepping up and making this movie as good as it could be. (Remember, though, that Tom Hanks was the producer.) But the system is screwed that makes a delicate sweet art film cost $100 million. It's bad for everyone when that movie goes down. I am rooting for it to be successful. But I wish Warners still had an indie unit (run by people who understand that market) who could handle a smaller version of this movie.

    Clearly, many people love the Sendak book, Jonze, the look of the gorgeous ad campaign and want this movie to be great. On that basis--and the fact that so many of my friends' teen kids want to see it--I bet it does open higher than the current tracking, $25 million. It could be closer to $30-35 million.

    But where it goes from there depends on what you all think of it. Look, evidence right now, from District 9 to Paranormal Activity, points to audiences craving something, anything different. Maybe this fits the bill. Cause you have to give Jonze and Co. points for that.

  • Devon | October 13, 2009 6:35 AMReply

    Of course there are differences between Harry potter, Ice Age 3 And WTWTA, Joel. Thankfully I am an intelligent human being and don't need your help explaining said differences. Unfortunately it seems you missed my point entirely which was not to compare those 3 movies, but to make the specific point that if anyone would've said that Ice Age 3 would've been the second highest grossing movie of the year worldwide, people would've laughed. To state even more specifically the point I was making, there seems to be a case for stating that WTWTA will do really well, and just as easily a case can be made that it won't. It's just a really hard one to pin down. Simple point I think, and one that seems to have been repeated a few times in other posts I've read on here.

  • John M | October 13, 2009 6:19 AMReply

    Jesus, this is a real live geekfest. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is the SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE of 2009...a movie we must love, because we must.

    Also, bancroft, THERE WILL BE BLOOD bankrupted Paramount Vantage? Oh really? Have any evidence of that, chief?

  • Brian | October 13, 2009 3:52 AMReply

    Tim Burton is a director very shot on good ideas and has got away with directing remakes, re-works,musicals and rehasing other peoples ideas. The result is a steaming pile of crap. Well done Tim.

    Timmy uses alot of CGI. His CGI also looks crap. The last interesting film he made was Ed Wood. Since then it's all Hollywood glossy expensive trash without a brain.

    Surreal artist like Alejandro Jodorowsky, with an incredible imagination, can't get any films off the ground. Why can't rich dudes like Spielberg, Burton help Jodorowsky???? WHY???? A true genius can't get few bucks for a film but there is plenty of money to produce crap for all the zombies.

    Alice in Wonderland (2010) going to be a CRAP REMAKE!
    Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) CRAP!!
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) CRAP REMAKE!!!
    Big Fish CRAP! F*CK YOU EWAN MCGREGOR
    Sleepy Hollow (1999) CRAP REMAKE!!
    Mars Attacks! (1996) CRAP!

  • ag | October 13, 2009 3:33 AMReply

    for what it's worth... i just happened upon this at nyt. here's a couple clips:

    My 10-year-old son, Isaac, and I were at some kid movie enduring the antic coming attractions, when a trailer came on for Spike Jonze’s soon-to-be-released adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s "Where the Wild Things Are"...

    ...“What do you think?” I asked Isaac. “Should we see it?”
    “Nah,” he said. “It looks weird. Plus the book wasn’t any good.”

    i don't read too much into this. the writer, bruce handy, doesn't mention what the audience reaction to the trailer was, only that his son didn't care for it. still, neither one of this guy's kids like the book and neither is set on seeing the movie. makes me wonder

    article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/11/books/review/Handy-t.html?_r=1

  • bancroft | October 13, 2009 1:25 AMReply

    Paraprakrti,

    Every time a movie that takes risks fails at the box office, it's puts the studios on the defensive. That's why we're stuck with remakes, sequels and movies based on toys. Studios are too scared to take chances because when they do, they usually wind up eating it.

    Even critical darlings, like There Will Be Blood, have had negative ramifications on the industry. The label that put that movie out wound up closing down because they blew too much money on it and didn't see a return on their investment. Better safe than sorry is the name of the game right now.

    These movies cost tons of money. WTWTA cost 100 million just on production, add in the cost of advertising and promotion and you're looking at a huge chunk of change. If the studio doesn't make all the money back, then they won't take a chance like this again. It could be the best movie ever made, but if it doesn't make back it's cost, no one will care. It'll be viewed as a failure, and a really expensive failure at that. The people that gave it the greenlight will lose their jobs and Spike Jonze will be in the Dog House. He'll either be knocked back down to indie budgets or be forced to take on crappy mainstream movies with mass audience appeal (i.e. Dora the Explorer: The Movie).

    Yeah, it's cool that he got to finish it and that we'll be able to watch it, but if it performs weak, heads will roll and the cycle of crappy movies will be perpetuated.

  • Paraprakrti | October 12, 2009 12:54 PMReply

    I think it's funny how pretty much everyone else is saying that this is better for older, more mature children, while you're saying that it'll play best to really young kids.

    In any case, I really don't care if all the children hate the movie. And I don't care about how much money it makes. Sometimes crap movies make great money and great movies make nickels.

  • ag | October 12, 2009 12:11 PMReply

    what global box office will do for this picture is an interesting subject. the novel was originally in english, yes? will wtwta have any appeal outside the u.s.? plus, you have to remember, distribs make far less outside the u.s. it's something like 10-25 cents on the dollar (versus about 75 cents/dollar, for the first couple weeks, here). there are all manner of additional taxes, fees, and exhibitors get a bigger cut overseas.

    if production and p/a costs (not to mention re-shoot costs) are over $120 million it's hard to see how it could be profitable. if the first weekend brings in $25 million (or less) and there is a sharp drop after that, and overseas interest is low, this movie will not get back to zero.

    what opens the week after wtwta? if the kids go to see that/those movie(s), wtwta is sunk. this is one of those movies that depends on a bunch of ifs to make profit, or to avoid losing gobs of money.

    then, there's word of mouth. i just don't see people raving about this the monday following opening weekend. the fanboys are rabid but that's always the case. in general, online, i don't see any traction for wtwta. not like other hits. what i see is more along the lines of polite coverage. more 'we have to give this a write up' stuff. i've heard tell there are some positive reviews (with major outlets), but movie blogs, in general, have a muted tone in their coverage.

    for me, i always thought this material would be better in a more modest form -- like a one-hour animated tv special. it could be played every year around halloween (or whenever). like the charlie brown specials. i love those, watch every chance i get. the material never seemed dense or complex enough for a feature-length movie. (someone mentioned a talky second act. that may indicate just such a lack of complexity, or paucity of plot points).

    the creatures in wtwta just look too much like people in suits, like big bird or one of those sesame street characters. not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not that magical. it seems to prevent suspension of disbelief, moment by moment. (when you watch sesame street you know it's a guy in a suit -- it's not suspension of disbelief, only acceptance of premise, which kids have no problem with). people want to be swept off their feet. constantly thinking 'that's a guy in a suit' just doesn't have that magical quality. acceptance of premise may not be enough to boost this movie to profitability. people may have a problem watching a feature that looks like it's populated by guys in suits. the look of wtwta may, or may not, be magical enough to attract audiences in droves

    i hate to seem like i'm bashing the picture, but there's the reality. it costs a lot and hasn't yet gotten the same traction that other successful movies usually have right before opening. that, plus the questionable appeal of this material outside the u.s. seems to make profit doubtful for wtwta.

  • Joel | October 12, 2009 10:32 AMReply

    I agree with Bancroft, Anne. I think your analysis is fairly accurate. The trolls on your post here don't seem to know box office or DVD sales vs profits from shinola and their attitude about the film is typical fanboy preening. "You're a poopy head and I'm not listening na-na-na-na." It's kind of sad and pathetic really.

    To Devon above, I don't think Ice Age 3 or Harry Potter 6 are remotely comparable to WTWA. You're kidding yourself if you think those films merit the assumption WTWA will be a top grosser for the year. I'm not even going to bother trying to explain the myriad differences to you. It might make a profit after world-wide gross, but even that will be an uphill battle.

  • bancroft | October 12, 2009 10:02 AMReply

    Haha Anne,

    Imdb just sent a whole mess of Fanboy Trolls to your blog. That's the price of becoming high profile, I suppose. Hope this place doesn't devolve into another Hollywood-Elsewhere following all those links Wells got on Drudge Report.

    I think WTWTA is tracking best with the hipster crowd and they've never really been able to make a film successful on their own. I still think it will do well, but no where near as well as these trolls are declaring. When all is said and done, from theatrical to dvd, I think this movie will be profitable, though maybe only slightly so. And maybe not enough to convince the studio to take another gamble like this.

  • drew K | October 12, 2009 7:41 AMReply

    i don't think this film will have a problem making its money back. even if the movie doesn't do stellar numbers in the theaters, there will be that group of folks who will just "wait for it to come out on video" or tv. the back-end deals (cable, network tv, dvd, and rental), will definitely push it into profitability, i'm sure. that's not even mentioning merchandising tie-ins. there are sure to be big, giant plush dolls and halloween costumes and such. there's already a video game presence. and while none of them may add up to much individually, add them all together and you have a nicely profitable theatrical bomb.

  • ag | October 12, 2009 6:42 AMReply

    i always assumed wtwta would be a flop. the initial footage was so bad. horrible looking. the creatures would have scared little kids -- as they were rendered in the first tests.

    however, the bits of final product i've seen look quite good. it may be a hit. really depends on the 2nd week's competition. i'd look for a sharp drop from 1st to 2nd frame

    my gut tells me it won't come near making a profit. (especially if the middle of movies is talk-heavy) possibly a huge first weekend followed by moderate business on tv/cable in the years to come. i don't see parents dishing out for dvd rental/purchase -- the kids won't be enthusiastic enough

  • Devon | October 12, 2009 6:02 AMReply

    Oddly enough, Worhog might have the best point here. There have been a plethora of kids movies already this year, and although that may not be the deciding factor, the fact there have already been a lot of kids movies combined with the fact that kids are back in school may be. Yes parents can still take kids to the movies anytime, but statistically this happens less after summer vacation has ended.
    As well, working against this movie, despite the fact that it is indeed a classic book, may be the fact that a lot of people who say "gee I really want to see that, I remember the book" probably won't end up going. This seems to be a "I can wait for the dvd" kind of movie. Though visually it seems it would be a shame to not see it on the big screen. We all have that nostalgic side, but that doesn't neccessarily mean we feed it very often. I have a ten year old son, and we probably won't go.
    Though tracking for 2009 thus far has been disturbingly off, I would be very surprised if they were to off base with their 25 million prediction. It's a quirky movie that doesn't fit into an easily definable category, that may or may not speak to children, or the adults child within, or it could be the latest in a string of well received, and financially profitable kids movies that have already come out this year.
    One last factoid, in all the buzz this year about the success of Star Trek, and the Hangover, and Transformers, and so on, is this little nugget...the 2nd highest grossing movie of the year worldwide, right behind the 6th Harry Potter, has been...wait for it...Ice Age 3. That's right over 800 million dollars and counting.
    So there you have it. Kids movies can be successful, but to bow to the point of the original article here, this particular movie probably has it's work cut out for it, no matter how much all of us who loved the book so much, want it to succeed, it remains to be seen.

  • BT | October 12, 2009 5:56 AMReply

    Worhog - He wasn't forced to add CGI by the studio, he was forced by gravity. The actors couldn't walk in the animatronic suits they built, so they had to go to plan B. I've seen the movie, and the animation is flawless. You never think of it as special effects, and since the bodies are suits they seem much more present than any fully CGI character. It also guarantees that they move realistically, not like exaggerated cartoon characters.

    As for the article, it should be pointed out that Jonze's two "highest grossing pics" that are mentioned are his only two movies. I'm not sure if that was just a mistake but I get the sense the writer doesn't actually know Jonze's work. Oh well.

    It's true, it's probably an uphill battle to make that kind of money. There is huge interest, but it's not exactly a mainstream crowdpleaser. I hope it does make tons of money, because it's a great movie and incredibly daring on the part of Jonze and the studio. It would be a happy ending for it to be a smashing success. But if not it's still a happy ending because this is a great movie that will be loved and analyzed for generations.

  • Pat | October 12, 2009 5:47 AMReply

    Really, though. This movie will make at least 200 million domestic.


    I'm glad I was linked to this from IMDB, so that now the millions of other people on that site can read also your blog, and then after the movie comes out they realize you have no idea what you are talking about, and never read it again.

  • Pat | October 12, 2009 5:43 AMReply

    25 million opening... you're an idiot.

  • Derek | October 12, 2009 5:38 AMReply

    Yeah, because Hollywood was built on making safe movies. Umm...because it wasn't. "Gone With the Wind" still holds the record for the most box-office tickets sold for a feature - and after going through 4 directors and countless months of production and thousands of miles of film, one of the greatest financial investments Hollywood ever made was created.

    These are hard economical times. We all know that. But, if nothing else, I appreciate that a studio is willing to take the kind of risks to make something both creative and that could make money. And as many outlets in ancillary markets (Blu-ray, DVD, pay-per-view, broadcast rights, etc.) as there are, it's difficult to not make a profit - though many studios manage to do that making Eddie Murphy films. If you need any evidence of that, take a look at the box-office failure of "Fight Club" and take a look at the current tally it has made in DVD sales alone.

    Look how few films are coming out these days ("Couples Retreat" makes $35 mil. on its opening weekend opening against what?)

    Anne, seriously though, this is what you want to write about in your article? "G.I. Joe" cost $175 mil. (before prints and ads), hell, "Surrogates" was $80 mil. and at a current take of $35 mil., it won't make its money back. I bring those up because they're not "Wild Things". They aren't original by any means, "Surrogates" doesn't have a built-in audience, and "Where the Wild Things Are" has been a part of 3 different generations of children and adults. Personally, I can't see that this not making money. From critical reviews to everything else, it'll be released on more than 3,500 theaters domestically, not including IMAX screens. Considering the PG-rating and the midnight shows, I can see this having an opening weekend take of $40-50 mil. plus. And considering you're hearing $25 mil. (that's absolutely laughable), you need to get out to theaters and take in some first-person perspective and not get your info from The Man that has no idea what good movies are about.

  • Michael Hughes | October 12, 2009 5:23 AMReply

    Actually, it was Jonze's wish for CGI, after the director David Fincher convinced Jonze that it could be done well. So, while we probably won't ever get to see Jonze's original imagining of this film, I think the final version is going to be extremely interesting. I'm in college, and quite a few people my age are looking forward to this film as well.

  • Tentaclarm | October 12, 2009 5:15 AMReply

    Although I cannot wait to see this movie, I am now very curious about Jonze's first cut, which was too "dark, adult and deep" for the studios (or for kids for that matter). And I hate that they added the CGI...psssh

  • Worhog | October 12, 2009 5:06 AMReply

    That's a bit harsh daniel!

    Firstly tracking is an industry standard device used to estimate how a film will open. Tracking figures do get leaked and generally most people involved or in some way knowledgeable about the industry will get a sense of what a film should do on its opening weekend. Just because it's good it does not mean everybody is going to see it. It depends what the movie is up against. It also depends on other factors; economic, social, the films that have preceded it in 2009 (there have been a lot of family/kids films this year, and it could make a negative difference).

    Your concept that a movie should do well because it's magical and wonderful is woefully misplaced. I hope and believe this film could do well; even perhaps really well. I do, however, suspect it will be more in the $75-125 domestic gross range, and for a movie that cost $100 million just to make, those are not great figures.

    Secondly, he isn't comparing Spike Jonze to Tim Burton, he's actually contrasting them. What the author is saying is that Burton has been able to play the studio game whilst retaining artistic integrity, but asking whether Spike Jonze is the same breed of filmmaker. There is no artistic comparison.

    You should probably read articles and think about them a bit more before you go barking at people.

  • daniel | October 12, 2009 4:30 AMReply

    You're an idiot.

    Where the wild things is world famous book, Maurice Sendak himself said that Spike JOnze's vision of it is incredible. You're so full of it- Where the wild thing are opens in more than 3500 theatres- this is movie for kids teens and adults. Everyone is going to go see this and u state, 'Advance tracking indicates the movie will open well, in the $25-million range'- WHOSE TRACKING, YOUR OWN TRACKING, dont make stuff up. Another thing that annoyed me is that you compared Spike Jonze to tim burton. TIM BURTON. Two completely different styled filmakers.
    I really think you need to get another career, please stop writing stupid cynical articles. Please stop writing.

    Where The Wild Things Are pushes your buttons? Well no one gives a damn. GO BE UNIQUE somewhere else.

  • Worhog | October 12, 2009 1:26 AMReply

    It will be interesting to see how the movie does, but I think $200 million domestic is a little too optimistic. It's possible, but I feel unlikely.

    You only have to look at the release date of the film to see the studio are not quite sure where to peg this one. Yes it has massive awareness, but there are plenty of adaptations that have and still struggled. 'The Golden Compass' is one such franchise. It made good money, but absolutely huge amounts of money were spent on that franchise and overall it was a considered a failure. That had a good built-in audience and the film was made as palatable as possible; granted it was darker than WTWTA and more controversial in some ways, but it is a warning.

    WTWTA has the curious disadvantage of having such a potentially wide audience it may end up being lukewarm for all of them. Lots of lovers of the book are going to be older adults now, who aren't going to make it a priority to see the film at the cinema. That having been said, it hasn't been made as an obviously family favourite; the trailer is pitching it as something deeper and more profound. This may sound like a positive thing but it could be lost on a lot of families who were expecting something more obviously "fun".

    If WTWTA ends up being a mega-hit it won't be a no-brainer that it did so. The very fact the studio had to re-shoot and spend extra money on it points to potential problems. After all, if the studio felt it was guaranteed they would have plugged $120+ million into its production without sparing a though. The very fact they budgeted it at $75 million (about half of a normal blockbuster's budget) shows it's not an easy film to pitch.

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