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Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Bee-Do Bee-Do Big Can 'Despicable Me' Be?

     Bee-do, bee-do, bee-do, attention all, its about that time! Despicable Me 2, the new animated sequel from Universal and Illumination, is just days from release. If you haven't seen Despicable Me, you live under a rock - unless you're Patrick Star. He's seen it. If you haven't heard of the Minions, you don't live on Earth. The Minions could be called the "new Spongebob". They're yellow, they have big eyes, they're popular and they're on half of the products in Walmart. So is Despicable Me 2 the second coming of animated movies?
     Despicable Me was the sleeper hit of 2010; the Minions, Gru, and Agnes soon became worldwide phenomenons. Universal realizes the appeal and potential of the Minions so they've set a 2014 release date for their spin-off movie, and they've marketed the heck out of Despicable Me 2. It has scored over $254 million in marketing tie-ins, one of the biggest of all time. So is the awareness there? Oh yes. The thing about the Minions is they're so easy. They're simple happy go lucky "beans" with big eyes which makes them easy to slap on bags, boxes, and containers. There's even a "Despica-blimp" flying around America - the first time a studio has used an airship to advertise.
       Animated movies are tricky. They're stereotyped as "only for kids", just like cartoons. Animated movies usually do big at the BO, but when you think about it, half of its money is coming from parents who had to bring their kids, which gives animated movies a leg up over say PG-13, since most teenagers are too hip to be seen at the cineplex with mom and dad. Possibly the biggest advantage DM2 has is its adult appeal. Not just kids, but teens and adults also love the Minions (I know 40 year olds excited for this, yall). Go ahead and call them annoying, you're a minority. Like I said, "new Spongebob". People call Mr. Squarepants annoying, but does that stop him from being the #1 cartoon character of the 21st century? Nope. And can he be #1 if he's only adored by kids? Not even. The Minions have had commercials during high-rated sports programs, they have a Progressive commercial, which for those of you that don't know, Progressive is car insurance, and considering kids can't drive, it's meant to appeal to adults, and they already have their own ride at Universal Studios Orlando. What great and smart product placement.
     Why was Shrek 2 the biggest animated movie of all time? And still is. After 9 years. And why was Shrek big enough to start it all? A big reason is likely that CG animation was still in its infancy and not saturated back in '01 and '04, but another big player was the adult appeal. Shrek and Shrek 2 had many jokes for kids, like fart jokes, but also many jokes for adults that flew right over kids' heads, like celebrity references. Shrek's heavy reliance on pop culture and adult humor brought adults in in droves and Despicable Me utilized the same style, hence a reason why many people are calling it the the next Shrek.
     I believe that Despicable Me 2 will be the biggest animated movie between Toy Story 3 and Finding Dory (I think FD will be the movie to dethrone Shrek 2). Universal's A+ marketing, the universal appeal of the Minions and Gru (see what I did there?), adult appeal, perfect release date, 3D, and a lackluster looking July could drive Despicable Me 2 to at least $350 million and huge numbers overseas. But can it hit $400 million? It's hard to call, and pretty tough, but again considering that all ages admitted are excited for this and and the positive responses for Despicable Me, even on home video, it could. I'm going to stick with $350 million to play it safe, but if the Minions cruise past that, its gravy to me. The movie is already trampling records in the UK and other countries and if they are any indication, Despicable Me 2 is in for a wild lofty run. And I leave you with this.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How High Will Superman Soar?

   2006. 2006 was the last time Superman has appeared on the silver screen. 2006 is also possibly the last time you fell asleep during a superhero movie. Okay, maybe Iron Man 2. You're living under two rocks if you don't already know, but a new Superman movie is coming out - next week, and it looks gorgeous, and most importantly, not boring.
     Superman Returns grossed $200M in the US and $391M worldwide. Now, that's pretty bad, but in 2006 it was exceptional, but still a disappointment.Warner yet again had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to do it right. After the colorful failure of Green Lantern (see what I did?), the soon ending of Nolan's Batman, and the success of Marvel, Warner was in desperate need to get a DC hero back in the cineplex. Superman was the easiest bet and Christopher Nolan, David Goyer, and Zack Snyder were eventually landed as producer, writer, and director respectively. British actor Henry Cavill landed the part of Clark Kent/Supes and filming began in 2011. Though everyone on the internet basically wants to have Nolan's babies, Zack Snyder doesn't have the best track record among the web crowd, so initial reactions weren't all that stellar and most had Man of Steel barely making above Superman Snores -- I meant Returns. Now, this movie has pulled a 216. Yep, 180 just isn't enough.
     Man of Steel looks beautiful. Snyder's movies may not have the best stories, but the visuals always make your eyes want to give you a hug. Now predictions for MoS are even as high as $400M, double what some were predicting just 2 years ago. Though predictions in the $300 mills is more realistic, it's still stellar and breaks the laws of reboots. The "S" doesn't stand for Superman (yeah, I couldn't believe it either when I learned it...a few months ago), it stands for "hope". Responsibility, hope, power, fitting in, self discovery, acceptance, limits, and family are all themes of the movie and should win over critics and parents with rebellious middle schoolers. The bar for action has been raised and Snyder's impressive style and fast approach is sure to wow audiences. I mean wowwww.
     Early reactions for MoS so far has been mostly stellar and early buzz is through the roof, with MoS already selling tickets like Bojangles biscuits at 8 am. Thought to be impossible a few months ago, MoS has a legit shot at a $100M opening, and the June weekend record. I have MoS at a $111M opening and $310-$340M finish, though it's not impossible for this to go higher. Superman has never looked better on the screen, and he finally knows how to wear underwear properly. The Superman "S" is the 2nd most recognized symbol in the world after the cross and he is still arguably the most known superhero. That doesn't mean people are just going to show up, the movie still has to appeal, and so far it seems to be going beyond that. Marketing has also gone the whole 10 yards and MoS has racked up $160M in promotional tie-ins. If you go to Walmart, you won't leave without seeing at least 40 items with MoS on it. Speaking of Walmart, they're even selling advanced tickets, the first time a major retailer has done this.
     Everyone. That's who this movie appeals to. You don't have to follow Superman to understand this movie. I do all my learning through Wikipedia. By early reactions and trailers, it seems Man of Steel won't disappoint. Though it won't reach Iron Man 3 and Dark Knight Rises opening levels, it's still poised to pull in a big league opening next week.
     Man of Steel stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Lawrence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Christopher Meloni (the SVU theme just played in your head, didn't it?), Antje Traue, Michael Keaton, and Russell Crowe (no, he doesn't sing). Directed by Zack Snyder, catch Man of Steel June 14 and worldwide starting June 13.
     Watch the mouth watering MoS Nokia trailer, trailer 4, and trailer 3 here.