“DRAGON” A DRAG ON DREAMWORKS ANIMATION
Analysts on Monday blamed the failure of Paramount/DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon to live up to sales expectations on the relative scarcity of 3D screens and the fact that it had to share whatever 3D screens there were with Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. Dragon wound up with $43.3 million, an unexceptional figure for a film that reportedly cost nearly four times that amount to produce. Ralph Schackart, media analyst with investment bankers William Blair & Co., said in a report to clients, “We do not think the overall movie quality was the problem as Dragon earned better review scores than Alice [in Wonderland] and Monsters [vs. Aliens].” Another analyst, Eric Wold, with Merriman Curhan Ford, warned that higher ticket prices — they rose as much as 26 percent in some locales — might have discouraged family outings to the movies. “We continue to believe higher ticket premium prices, in general, could negatively impact results of animated films,” Wold wrote. At IMAX theaters, where ticket prices reportedly rose $5.00 a head, Dragon generated $5 million less than Alice and Avatar did in their opening weekends on virtually the same number of screens. Moreover, the long-term outlook for the film appears cloudy. Other recent animated films have opened with similar results but have gone on to accumulate huge grosses because they tend to draw large family audiences steadily week after week. In the case of Dragon, however, it will have to give up many of its 3D screens next weekend to Clash of the Titans and share others with Alice Then again, the problem may be that the audience has had its fill with 3D animated films. “The novelty factor is no longer as strong,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan. The discouraging news sent stock in DreamWorks Animation plummeting more than 8 percent to $39.34 on the Nasdaq on Monday.
The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Box Office Mojo (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):1. How to Train Your Dragon, Paramount/DreamWorks Animation, $43,732,319, (New); 2. Alice in Wonderland, Disney, $17,707,858, 4 Wks. ($293,534,935); 3. Hot Tub Time Machine, MGM, $14,020,502, (New); 4. The Bounty Hunter, Sony, $12,006,731, 2 Wks. ($38,418,433); 5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, 20th Century Fox, $10,121,961, 2 Wks. ($35,898,390); 6. She’s Out of My League, Paramount, $3,512,218, 3 Wks. ($25,586,560); 7. Green Zone, Universal, $3,384,480, 3 Wks. ($30,475,005); 8. Shutter Island, Paramount, $3,187,487, 6 Wks. ($120,612,552); 9. Repo Men, Universal, $3,010,515, 2 Wks. ($11,304,730); 10. Our Family Wedding, Fox Searchlight, $2,352,539, 3 Wks. ($16,938,562).