Tuesday, April 24, 2018


When your first hybrid animated movie -- a reboot of a Robin Williams hit hybrid animated movie -- collects $957 billion at the global box office, you kind of know there will be another serving in the near future:

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle surpassed the Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man’s $403.7M to become Sony’s highest ever domestic grossing hit. The final domestic tally was $404.1M ... [Sony] chairman Tom Rothman revealed that the next Jumanji will arrive December 2019. ..

As inevitable as night following day.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Weekend B.O.

The most popular hybrid feature on the Big List.

The Top Ten list of Box Office winners:


1) A Quiet Place -- 3,808 theaters (+219) / 3-day: $21.1M (-36%) / Total: $131.4M/ Wk 3

2) I Feel Pretty -- 3,440 theaters / 3-day: $18M / Wk 1

3) Rampage -- 4,115 theaters (+14) / 3-day: $17.6M (-51%) / Total: $63.2M / Wk 2

4) Super Troopers 2 -- 2,038 theaters /3-day: $16M / Wk 1

5) Truth or Dare -- 3,068 theaters (+39) / 3-day: $7.7M (-59%) /Total: $30.1M/ Wk 2

6) Ready Player One -- 3,208 theaters (-453) / 3-day: $7.5M (-35%)/ Total: $126.1M/ Wk 4

7) Blockers -- 3,134 theaters (-284) /3-day: $7M (-35%)/ Total: $48.2M/ Wk 3

8) Black Panther -- 1,930 theaters (-250) / 3-day: $4.6M (-20%)/Total: $681M/ Wk 10

9) Traffik (LG), 1,046 theaters / 3-day: $3.8M / Wk 1

10) Isle of Dogs -- 1,947 theaters (+8) /3-day: $3.3M (-40%) / Total: $24.2M / Wk 5

If you count Rampage, Ready Player One, and Black Panther as hybrid animated features (and I don't see how you couldn't, since there's a LOT of animation in each), then there are four animated features in the Big List.

And as I write here, none of the hybrids, though they might be counted as "live-action" flicks, could exist without the large dollops of animation that decorate each one.)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Inside a Hybrid Production

The Gray Lady details here how one of Rampage's action scenes was put together.

"The action with Dwayne and Naomi was real... The angles with George [the giant ape] were were a plate. ... And we did face capture with Dwayne on the skydiver because we weren't going to have Dwayne and Naomi sky-diving. ..."

It's been true for a couple of decades now: any blockbuster worth its salt has massive amounts of animation in it. You can call any super-hero feature a hybrid animated movie because without animators and compositors sitting at their computers working long hours, the motion picture won't exist. You'll just have actors in funny costumes emoting in front of green screens.

So the trick for our fine, entertainment conglomerates? Find the effects house with the lowest bid for the work that you can, and the country that gives you the biggest dollop of free money.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Working With China

... also known as "riding the big Chinese dragon".

China seems to be one of Washington D.C.'s bete noirs of the moment ("They're robbing us blind!"), but Hollywood is well aware that the Middle Kingdom is now the second largest movie market and will likely soon be #1. Therefore this makes sense:

Jackie Chan and Constance Wu will voice-star in Sony Pictures Animation's Wish Dragon, a contemporary retelling of the classic genie-in-a-bottle tale from One Thousand and One Nights. ...

The feature, which is aiming for a 2019 theatrical release in China, is a Chinese co-production with Chan's Beijing-based Sparkle Roll Media Corporation and Base Animation. A U.S. and international release are also planned. ...

You will note that Sony is going the co-production route, and it isn't with Aardman, but a studio in mainland China. This is a savvy move, and it can't escaped Sony's notice that a hybrid animated epic (Rampage just opened over there, and pulled in $55 million for its opening stanza, about $20 million more than it earned stateside.

American entertainment conglomerates are well aware that they need a reliable pathway into one of the most lucrative movie markets on the planet. They can either do it with a movie star popular in China (Dwayne Johnson) or they can do a Chinese co-production that assures them of a big distribution footprint when the feature is ready to roll out.

The co-production strategy is a viable choice. Sony ain't stupid.

#3 in the Franchise

NBCUniversal is keeping a 2019 release date for one of the movies it (in part) bought DreamWorks Animation for all those many months ago:

Universal Pictures said today that the third installment in DreamWorks Animation’s lucrative and toon Oscar-winning franchise now is titled How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. The pic is keeping its March 1 release date. ...

Currently, HTTYD3 is the only pic slated on its new date. Everest is now pitted against an untitled Warner Bros event movie. ...

A couple of years ago, the plan was to release Dragons in the Spring of 2018. But, as often happens, story development takes its own sweet time. And if you need to move release windows back by ten months, well that's what you do.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Organizing Nick

The editors at Nick animation have worked without an Editors Guild contract for decades. Several times they've agitated and signed cards; each time the studio brushed them back. Now, however, the brush-backs have ceased:

... An independent arbitrator this morning signed off that a clear majority of the currently nearly three dozen Nickelodeon Animation Studio staff members had inked union cards and sought IATSE and its Local 700, the Motion Picture Editors Guild representation. ... Nickelodeon and parent company Viacom reiterated their decision not to challenge the move towards unionization. ...

This new collective step joins the IATSE agreements that NAS already has in place with the Animation Guild among others. It also is another feather in the 81-year-old Editors Guild cap to bring Hollywood workers into the collective bargaining fold.

This is doubly impressive because Nick has never been an easy walnut to crack. And the national political landscape is tilted heavily against labor unions.

New Blood

Paramount Animation continues to recruit DreamWorks Animation execs to fill up its leadership roster.

Paramount Pictures has named “The Boss Baby” producer Ramsey Naito to the post of executive vice president at Paramount Animation. Naito received an Oscar nomination for DreamWorks Animation’s “The Boss Baby” along with Tom McGrath. She will report to Paramount Animation’s president, Mireille Soria. Paramount made the announcement Thursday.

Back in the days when I walked around the Paramount lot, going trailer to trailer to see what Paramount Animation was working on, artists mentioned that the upper management at PA seemed to be a little hazy and unfocussed about where they wanted to steer the studio. The product that came out of the place seemed to underscore the point.

Since then, Mireille Soria (a long-time DreamWorks Animation exec) has come on board, and now Ms. Naito. Hopefully they will help goose the profitability and quality of the shop. (There have been a long line of top-notch creative people with good track records -- Mark Dindal, Ed Gombert, Don Hahn, etc. -- who have come through Paramount Animation, but most have departed.)