THREE ANIMATED SEQUELS AND TWO NEW CONCEPTS
Since schools are going to let out eventually, there will be lots of parents desperately trying to find things to keep their kids entertained and studios are more than happy to release family-friendly animated fare to take their money.
Not really a sequel as much as a prequel, Monsters University (DisneyPixar – June 21) reunites Billy Crystal’s Mike Wazowski and John Goodman’s James “Sully Sullivan by showing their first meeting on the campus of Monsters University where the top scarers are trained before they’re hired by the power company known as Monsters, Inc. The movie continues Disney’s strategy to keep Pixar’s most popular characters on the screen for new generations of kids, something that paid off with their biggest hit yet, Toy Story 3. The fourth Pixar Animation movie opened with $62.6 million way back in November 2001 on its way to $289.4 million domestically and $590 million worldwide. Just on the basis of 12 years of inflation that opening is going to be much higher, not to mention the premium price of 3D tickets, and one can expect the 3-to-5 year olds who saw the original are now starting to think about college themselves and will be out there with a new generation of parents and toddlers. We expect a huge opening in the high 80s range, maybe more, and for it to be one of the big players over the rest of the summer.
And it would have done even bigger business if not for the fact that a few weeks later, Steve Carell returns as the villainous Gru in Despicable Me 2 (Universal July 3) along with his lovable minions who quickly turned into a big draw for the original movie. It opened on July 9, 2010 with a whopping $56.4 million opening weekend before grossing $251.5 million domestically and $543.5 million including the rest of the world. In other words, it became almost as popular as Monsters, Inc., making this one of the summer’s biggest battles. Universal sees this as a huge franchise for them with a Minions spin-off movie already in the works for next Christmas. What’s weird about this one is that it’s opening over the 4th of July, a weird time to open a movie since it doesn’t see that many huge weekends other than two of Michael Bay’s “Transformers movies and Spider-Man 2. Even the third Ice Age movie “Dawn of the Dinosaurs only made $41.7 million over its three-day weekend although 4th of July is so complicated and dependent on what day it falls upon. We think Despicable Me 2 will have a huge opening day and 4th of July as families rush out to see it, but might tail off over the weekend. It should be a solid choice for family with small kids for the rest of the summer although it does have two more equally strong family films opening over the weeks that follow.
A bunch of years back, Sony Pictures got the rights to make movies based on Peyo’s popular, lovable blue magical beings The Smurfs and however much they paid, it’s already paid off since they’re hoping to do with The Smurfs what Fox has done with Alvin and the Chipmunks. The first movie opened in late July two years ago, building on a $35.6 million opening to a $142.6 domestic gross and $563 million worldwide. (Read that last number once again!) The sequel The Smurfs 2 (Sony July 31) offers essentially more of the same, but it opens on Wednesday and has two days to its own before two more guy-related movies open on Friday. The Wednesday opening might keep it from having a first weekend that much bigger than the original and we wouldn’t be surprised if it makes less domestically than the original with so many other family options in theaters.
With three potential hit movies based on successful movies, it’s hard to imagine that this year’s Blue Sky Studios offering Epic (20th Century Fox May 24), by Ice Age creator Chris Wedge, can make much of a mark. Loosely based on a concept by William Joyce and featuring the “eh voice cast of Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Beyonce Knowles, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler and more, it opens over Memorial Day weekend against two huge epics and though there isn’t much else for younger kids, this probably will top out at $35 million over the four-day weekend.
Two weeks after Despicable Me we get the second movie of 2013 from DreamWorks Animation, Turbo (20th Century Fox – July 17), featuring the voice of Ryan Reynolds as a super-charged snail which will try to appeal to the same audience of young boys who loved DisneyPixar’s Cars. It has a much better concept and voice cast than Epic with the likes of Paul Giamatti, Ken Jeong, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz, Snoop Lion and Samuel L. Jackson, but it’s also the first DreamWorks Animation movie to open that late in the summer due to their partnership with 20th Century Fox, which proved profitable with The Croods. It’s opening in the middle of Despicable Me 2 and The Smurfs 2, so it might have trouble having much of an impact, but it could probably eek out $110 million or slightly more if it’s nearly as entertaining as it looks.