17 items from 2015
The family film was the weekend’s top ticket seller, pulling in a sterling $54 million, easily eclipsing projections that had it bowing to between $30 million and $35 million. It’s one of the studio’s best-ever openings for an original movie and the biggest debut it has had since 2012’s “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” kicked off to $60.3 million in 2012.
The studio has suffered through a string of film flops such as “Turbo” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” as well as failed sales to Hasbro and SoftBank. “Home” is the only film it is releasing this year, so expectations for the movie about an alien invasion were high and scrutiny was intense. “Home” cost $130 million to produce and launched in 3,708 locations. Fox distributed the picture. »
- Brent Lang
Massive writedowns. Failed sales. Deep staffing cuts.
It’s a trifecta of troubles that has left DreamWorks Animation struggling to find its footing and move forward after the worst year and a half in its often rocky history.
The company’s suffering won’t be alleviated when “Home,” its upcoming alien invasion film, lands on Friday. The picture is on track to open to between $30 million and $35 million, a respectable result but for the fact that it also carries a $130 million pricetag.
“Home” opened to strong numbers overseas last week, leading some analysts to predict that the film should end up with more than $100 million domestically and roughly $380 million globally.
“They would skirt the writedown and be out of a deficit situation with those numbers,” said David Miller, an analyst with Topeka Capital Markets.
Others are less optimistic.
“We have become a little bit more concerned that ‘Home’ could underperform expectations, »
- Brent Lang
Top Five Chris Rock's movie was one of the better comedies last year and it took me a couple times to realize this so definitely give it a chance and after that first viewing, if you aren't entirely convinced, give it a second spin.
Ride the Pink Horse (Criterion Collection) I have a copy of this, but haven't yet watched it, though I'm looking forward to it and will share some thoughts down the road. For now, here's Criterion's description: Hollywood actor turned idiosyncratic auteur Robert Montgomery directs and stars in this striking crime drama based on a novel by Dorothy B. Hughes. He plays a tough-talking former GI who comes to a small New Mexico town to »
- Brad Brevet
At a loss for what to watch this week? From new DVDs and Blu-rays, to what's streaming on Netflix, we've got you covered.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
This gorgeous Oscar-nominated animated feature is about a girl named Saoirse and her brother Ben, who discovers that the fairy tales his mother told him about selkies -- half human, half seal creatures -- are all too true.
Here's another animated feature, albeit one with a much more modern flair. The bumbling penguins of previous "Madagascar" films are recruited for a wild espionage adventure. Voice actors include Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, Chris Miller, and plenty of others.
TV Worth Watching
"Dancing With the Stars" (Monday, ABC at 8 p. »
- Jenni Miller
Brooklyn mobster and prolific hit man Jimmy Conlon (Neeson), once known as The Gravedigger, has seen better days. Longtime best friend of mob boss Shawn Maguire (Harris), Jimmy, now 55, is haunted by the sins of his past—as well as a dogged police detective (Vincent D’Onofrio) who’s been one step behind Jimmy for 30 years. Lately, it seems Jimmy’s only solace can be found at the bottom of a whiskey glass.
But when Jimmy’s estranged son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), becomes a target, Jimmy must make a choice between the crime family he chose and the real family he abandoned long ago. With Mike on the run, Jimmy’s only penance for his past mistakes may be to keep »
- Michelle McCue
Jeffrey Katzenberg diverted his attention from his core business of making family films, and it contributed to DreamWorks Animation racking up a whopping $300 million in losses last year — nearly half of what it generated in overall sales.
“The last eight months have been the worst in the company’s 20-year history,” Katzenberg told Wall Street analysts on Feb. 24, as he licked his wounds and reflected on a period of painful cost-cutting that resulted in layoffs, the closure of Dwa’s Northern California studio, and a serious re-examination of its creative choices. Analysts and stockholders don’t care about the past, however. They want to know whether Katzenberg has a plan for the future.
That future is dependent on hit movies, something Dwa has been sorely lacking. The Glendale, Calif.-based animation company’s recent success largely has ridden on the back of its “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise, and its 2013 hit “The Croods. »
- Marc Graser
Penguins of Madagascar moves toward an interesting take on the sequel genre, if there is such a thing, by creating a spin-off film, from characters that have already had a spin-off show. Such is the appeal of the Madagascar films (though the straight sequels have had varying levels of success), that both the penguins and King Julien have managed animated series, and there’s something to be said for the idea that if people love the penguin characters we should run with that.
The film bases its plot on the dueling ideas that Private is fed up with having no role in the crew, and that the penguins in general, and then to another level of “in general,” have taken the spotlight off of a certain octopus.
- Marc Eastman
Penguins of Madagascar was unlucky when it came to looking back over the year, because it was overshadowed by other animated efforts in a year that was just lousy with surprisingly strong animated releases. But, it’s not a movie you should let slip past, and is one that will certainly be a rewatch staple for younger audiences for a long time.
We’ll have a full review of the Digital release very soon, but wanted to make sure you got the news that the movie is available now on iTunes and other Digital HD retailers.
We also want to make sure you have all the info for the Blu-Ray release, including the toy pack that will be available. The iTunes release comes with the bonus features of the Blu-Ray release.
Perfect for Easter Gift Baskets, the Blu-ray™ and DVD Come With Two Hopping Penguin
Toys Available for »
- Marc Eastman
From finding new ways to shoot the most adrenaline-infused car chases to taking exhibition audio into new frontiers, this year’s recipients of the Academy Scientific & Technical Awards are pushing the limits of cinema in every way they can.
These awards are sometimes called the Sci-Tech Oscars, but most honorees are given plaques or certificates, as opposed to the fabled statuettes. Only two of the awards come with actual Oscars and those nods aren’t given every year, though this year both will be presented.
The highest Sci-Tech Award — and one that comes with an Oscar — is the Academy Award of Merit. The award is designed to single out game-changing technology. This year Larry Hornbeck will receive the citation for his digital micromirror technology that powers Dlp cinema projectors, now the standard throughout the industry. These micromirrors, 37 years in development, are used for “intelligently steering light” in order to help deliver bright, »
- Karen Idelson
Flickering Myth sat down with the directors of Shaun the Sheep Movie…
Out now in cinemas, Shaun the Sheep makes the leap from TV to the silver screen with Shaun the Sheep Movie (read our review here) and Flickering Myth Deputy Editor Luke Owen caught up with its directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzack, who also wrote the movie. Check out the interview on the Flickering Myth Podcast and read what they had to say below…
Lo: Are we calling the film Shaun the Sheep Movie, or Shaun the Sheep: The Movie?
Mb: We thought everyone would call it The Shaun the Sheep Movie, but we ended up getting snowed under by “the”. So it’s Shaun the Sheep Movie. That was actually the first six months of development – just getting the “the” in the right place! (laughs)
Lo: You’re both first time feature directors, this is quite »
- Luke Owen
Layoffs are coming to DreamWorks Animation — again — on the heels of the studio’s leadership shakeup this month and recent write-downs, including one analyst’s projected $49 million loss on spinoff film Penguins Of Madagascar. Roughly 250-300 Dwa employees will be getting pink-slipped in the coming months, sources say.
The “compartmentalized” layoff notices started about a week ago, another source added. The plan is to let Dwa people go in small waves with 60-day payouts.
Earlier this month, Chief Creative Officer Bill Damaschke stepped down as veteran producers Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria were named Co-Presidents of Feature Animation of the struggling animation studio.
Despite hits from the How To Train Your Dragon and Madagascar animated franchises, the Glendale-based studio has struggled to consistently create winners at the box office during the past three years. Turbo, Rise Of The Guardians and Mr. Peabody & Sherman underperformed, and the publicly traded company’s »
- Dominic Patten and Jen Yamato
“How to Train Your Dragon 2″ is providing DreamWorks Animation with a much-needed morale boost after a tough 2014 filled with disappointing films at the box office, a significant drop in its stock price and drama surrounding a potential sale.
With the company’s first-ever win in the animation category at the Golden Globes and now an Academy Award nomination, the “Dragon” sequel looks to be the frontrunner when the Oscars are handed out Feb. 22. Disney had won seven of the past eight years at the Globes.
Awards recognition is great, but with no sequels on the horizon for 2015, it could be another tough year at the box office for DreamWorks Animation.
The awards recognition comes shortly after Dwa chief Jeffrey Katzenberg named Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria as co-presidents of the studio. Both have extensive knowledge in launching and running successful franchises, with Arnold having overseen “How to Train Your Dragon, »
- Marc Graser
While accepting the Spotlight Award at the National Board of Review ceremony in New York, the 49-year-old comedian explained to the audience that Rudin, who made racially charged comments last month about President Obama in several leaked emails to Sony’s Amy Pascal, wasn’t really prejudiced as much as he was just nasty.
“He’s not here because he hates all of you!”
Tuesday’s remarks were the first time Rock has specifically mentioned the producer of his new movie following the “scary” cyber-attack on Sony.
“Read my emails,” he said to the New York Times. “I say offensive things for a living.”
Introduced by pal and fellow comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Rock began his »
- Ramin Setoodeh
DreamWorks Animation has announced that it has appointed two veteran producers, Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria, as co-presidents of feature animation. In their new roles, Arnold and Soria, respectively the lead producers behind the studio’s How to Train Your Dragon and Madagascar franchises, will oversee creative development and production for DreamWorks Animation’s theatrical releases. Between them, they have produced eight films at DreamWorks that have grossed more than $3.5 billion globally. As part of this transition, chief creative officer Bill Damaschke will step down from his position.
“Mireille and Bonnie are two of the most accomplished and prolific filmmakers working in feature animation today,” said DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg. “I am confident in their ability to marshal the extensive creative resources available at our studio and lead DreamWorks’s vast ranks of artists and filmmakers as they produce the highest quality entertainment.”
“As two of our most successful producers, »
- Michelle McCue
Bill Damaschke will step down as chief creative officer, as part of the move.
At the moment, those are two of Dwa’s most reliable moneymakers, after being forced to take writedowns on the poor performance of its films. It took an $87 million loss on “Rise of the Guardians,” a $13.5 million hit on “Turbo” and $57 million writedown on “Mr. Peabody & Sherman.”
“Three of our last four films have not delivered in terms of audience turnout or financial performance,” Katzenberg told analysts in April 2014, before “The Penguins of Madagascar” also underperformed in the latter part of the year, with nearly $271 million worldwide, $78 million coming from domestic theaters. »
- Marc Graser
Arnold and Soria, the lead producers behind the studio’s “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Madagascar” franchises respectively, will oversee creative development and production for Dwa’s theatrical releases.
“Mireille and Bonnie are two of the most accomplished and prolific filmmakers working in feature animation today,” said DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. “I am confident in their ability to marshal the extensive creative resources available at our studio and lead DreamWorks’s vast ranks of artists and filmmakers as they produce the highest quality entertainment. »
- Todd Cunningham
“I am confident in their ability to marshall the extensive creative resources available at our studio and lead DreamWorks’s vast ranks of artists and filmmakers as they produce the highest quality entertainment.”
“Having worked alongside them both for many years at DreamWorks, I am thrilled that these established industry veterans will be providing creative oversight »
- email@example.com (Jeremy Kay)
17 items from 2015
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