December 28, 2010 |
2010 provided valuable lessons about what works -- and, more important, what doesn't work -- when it comes to the box-office performance of movies. Studios, in planning the kinds of films to make this year and next, might want to take note: Be careful what you pay for Reese Witherspoon ("How Do You Know"), Johnny Depp ("The Tourist"), Russell Crowe ("The Next Three Days") and Tom Cruise ("Knight and Day") may still command fat paychecks, but what's good for their agents isn't necessarily good for the box office: Each of the actors' last movies faltered.
July 20, 2010 |
For Universal Pictures, all it took was some puny yellow minions to tackle the giants of animation. The studio's movie "Despicable Me," about a villain who enlists an army of yapping subordinates to assist in his nefarious deeds, has racked up $118.4 million in 10 days at the box office, granting Universal something that has long eluded it: a family-friendly animated blockbuster. Such a windfall represents a turning point for the General Electric Co.-owned studio, which has lagged behind rivals Pixar Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox's Blue Sky Studios in establishing a foothold in the increasingly popular genre of digitally animated movies.
July 2, 2010 |
Russians love Shrek. And Russians love the acorn-obsessed squirrel Scrat from "Ice Age." But Russians aren't showing a lot of love for Buzz and Woody. "Toy Story 3," released June 18, has been a blockbuster success in the U.S. and most of the other countries where it has opened, racking up $244 million in ticket sales domestically and more than $100 million in foreign nations, including more than $34 million in Mexico. But the Pixar Animation Studios sequel has posted surprisingly frigid box-office results in Russia, one of the hottest international markets for movies, especially for animated films.
June 18, 2010 |
The soft summer box office is poised to get a big boost from "Toy Story 3" this weekend. People who have seen pre-release surveys say that "Toy Story 3" is certain to have the biggest opening for a movie from Pixar Animation Studios, beating 2004's "The Incredibles," which started with $70.4 million in the U.S. and Canada. Thanks to strong interest among all audience segments, as well as 3-D premium ticket prices, the movie could provide Pixar's first $100-million-plus opening if pre-release tracking is on target.
June 17, 2010 |
Pixar Animation Studios, the pioneering digital studio that long prided itself on creating novel stories and characters, is now treading a well-worn Hollywood path. Three of the company's next four releases are sequels. On Friday, Pixar debuts the highly-anticipated third chapter of its popular "Toy Story" saga, to be followed in the next two years by new installments of "Cars" and "Monsters, Inc." Pixar won't have another original movie until 2012, when "Brave," about a young Scottish girl of royal blood who dreams of becoming a champion archer, arrives in theaters.
December 14, 2009 |
Disney Pixar Animation guru John Lasseter found himself tangled in a miniature fashion kerfuffle. Toy maker Mattel Inc. had made a prototype doll of "The Princess and the Frog's" newly minted princess, Tiana, wearing her bayou wedding dress. But one animator worried that the gown failed to reflect the one in the film, whose multiple layers resemble the petals of an unfolding waterlily. Lasseter suggested a way to create the illusion of volume without driving up the doll's $10 price tag -- namely, printing a swirling pattern of glitter atop the diaphanous outer layer of fabric.
December 14, 2009 |
Two new movies got off to so-so starts this weekend, but the studios behind them hope they're both set up to prosper over the holidays. "The Princess and the Frog," Walt Disney Studios' first hand-drawn animated film in six years, debuted to a studio-estimated $25 million in nationwide release. Warner Bros.' apartheid drama "Invictus," directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, opened to $9.1 million. Both were on the low end of expectations and considered relatively soft starts given their budgets.
December 9, 2009
With its critically acclaimed new release "The Princess and the Frog," Disney returns to its hand-drawn animation heyday. The man making that push? The same guy who helped usher in the computer animation takeover with the 1995 blockbuster "Toy Story." John Lasseter, the guiding force at Pixar Animation Studios, admits he was dismayed when Disney and DreamWorks and other studios decided to close up their 2-D hand-drawn divisions earlier this decade after several such films performed poorly.
November 18, 2009 |
In his first move affecting a major film project, newly named Walt Disney Studios chief Rich Ross has pulled the plug on a planned $150-million production of "Captain Nemo: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" -- the last project approved by his predecessor Dick Cook. The family adventure movie -- a high priority for Disney that the studio had envisioned as a potential franchise along the lines of "Pirates of the Caribbean" -- was scheduled to begin shooting in February in Mexico. Disney had already spent about $10 million hiring crews, who were prepping the movie and planning to build elaborate sets in Rosarito Beach.
September 22, 2009 |
Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger must act quickly to replace studio head Dick Cook to avoid further destabilizing the Burbank-based movie operation. Cook's abrupt departure Friday is upsetting employees, many of whom are finding it difficult to focus on work because they are anxious about their future. In addition, stars and filmmakers do not like to face uncertainty and want assurances that their projects will remain on track. Iger is not tipping his hand about whom he will name to fill the job. One executive that's a subject of speculation is Disney Channel President Rich Ross.