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The magic of IP

Posted on June 8, 2010 3 Comments
Filed under Animation, Business of animation, Education

Persepolis

Alright, here is a quick but long-winded post ;-)

The animation business is full of experts. Film critics, animators and buddying film makers, everybody seems to know the secret to success and still they can’t explain the failure of Sony to break the $300 million mark or the poor box office performance of Hayao Miyazaki’s features and other 2d movies.

For a start, here is the box office international gross of few movies according to Boxofficemojo.com

Cloudy with a chance of Meatball $235,356,527
Surfs up $149,044,513
Open season $197,309,027
Planet 51 $105,194,415
The Princess and the frog $267,007,809
Spirited Away $274,925,095
The Triplette of Belleville $14,776,760

Isn’t this shocking? “Triplets of Belleville” was nominated for 2 oscars and didn’t even recover its costs! “Spirited away” was an Academy award winner and hardly broke even.

Some people would argue that those two movies didn’t have any marketing. I might agree for “Spirited away” but that still doesn’t explain the poor performance of Sony’s animated feature. Don’t you think that the studio who made the Spiderman movies knows a thing or two about marketing?

Alright, I am an animator and buddying film maker so like everyone else I also have an expert opinion you can trust ! ;-)

Story is very important but many more factors come into effect to explain how well a movie will do.

1 – Production value
2 – Originality
3 – Mass appeal
4 – Legacy and credibility
5 – Release date
6 – Forget about the story!
7 – Sequels

1 – Production value
Personally when a Pixar movie comes out, I don’t even need to watch the trailer or hear what the critics will say, I immediately book my ticket and buy the Bluray movie as soon as it is available. Why? Because of the production values. I can trust Pixar to deliver everything I enjoy when watching an animated feature.
(Shrek vs Hoodwincked, Madagascar vs The Wild ….)

2 – Originality
Imagine a movie about Surfing Penguins (Surfs Up) coming out 6 month after some Dancing Penguins (Happy feet)? What about a story about Rats and Mice (Tale of Despereaux), one year after Ratatouille? This is a recipe for failure.

3 – Mass appeal
No matter how much money you are going to poor into the marketing of that subtitled black and white franco/iranian arty animated feature, Persepolis is a “niche” movie that will never attract the masses.

4 – Legacy and credibility
Why do you think studio feel the need to tell you that this new movie is from the creators of “Finding Nemo”, “Shrek”, “Ice Age”?
Ask your uncle, niece, someone around you not related to the animation industry, they will immediately recognize those names and be more inclined to see that newly advertised movie than the one from that unknown spanish studio, well, provided that unknown animation studio is actually named. I still haven’t seen a mention of Mac Guff or Illion studio on the trailers of “Despicable Me” or “Planet 51”.

5 – Release date
How well do you think a movie from an unknown foreign studio will do if it comes out at the same time as a production from Dreamworks or Pixar? Planet 51 and Astroboy came out at the same time as Dreamworks “How to train your dragon” and both studios went bust or are about to. Family have a limited budget for entertainment and with Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks aiming at 2 releases per year, this doesn’t leave much room for challengers.

6 – Forget about the story
I won’t dwell onto that one, I am still angry to have paid close to £20 to see this at the Imax. “Avatar” had the thinnest story plot ever, the most blandest characters and still fared way better at the box office than any more intricate stories.

7 – Sequels
And here is what I was getting at. Strong intellectual properties (IP).

You thought people were fed up with Shrek? Well I have some news for you, with the release of Shrek 4 this month, Dreamworks has once again scored a home run.
Shrek 4 just came out 3 weeks ago and already scored $254,055,338 worldwide….. $254,055,338 is pretty much what “Princess and the frog” did in its entire release and if I remember correctly, this is exactly what “Avatar” did in the same amount of time before climbing above $2 billions! Don’t you think Dreamworks should start working on Shrek 5 now? So far, Shrek has generated close to $3 billions, isn’t that a strong IP? No wonder, Dreamworks treats its employees so well.

What about Ice Age 3, any idea how much money Universal/Blue Sky made? $884,784,626.

This is more than any Pixar movie. “Finding Nemo” is bit behind at $867,893,978

Well now that Pixar is not bound to a similar Co-Production agreement they signed with Disney in 1997 what would stop them and why do you think they are now in a hurry to release Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Monsters Inc2? This has nothing to do with the fact that Disney bought them but more to do with my secret of animation success, the magic of IP.

Until a european studio can find the money to fund not only a first movie but also its sequel, they will be bound to failure.

Despicable me

Related post:
Despicable me 4th trailer

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