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Can Somebody Call the Movie Industry a Wah-mbulance?

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Variety’s The Cut Scene reported Tuesday that Dreamworks Animation head honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg blamed the video game industry for poor DVD sales of “Shrek the Third.” He stated, “Competition at retail from other sources such as videogames has had an impact on the overall homevideo market and on the performance of individual titles including ‘Shrek the Third.'” Really? Well, that kind of contradicts the press release that was published on their website.

Here’s an excerpt:

For the quarter, Shrek the Third contributed approximately $179.4 million of revenue, driven primarily by its release into the home video market and additional international box office receipts in the period. Through the end of 2007, the title reached approximately 15.6 million units shipped on a worldwide basis, net of actual returns and estimated future returns. Shrek the Third was the second highest-grossing U.S. film in 2007 and has reached approximately $800 million in box office on a worldwide basis, making it the fourth best-performing animated movie of all time.

“Led by the blockbuster performance of Shrek the Third, 2007 became DreamWorks Animation’s most successful year since going public — both financially and at the box office,” stated Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation. “Shrek the Third’s success combined with that of our holiday television special, Shrek the Halls, illustrates the value of the franchise strategy around which we have built our business. We look forward to expanding our franchises into new growth vehicles in 2008.”

So, it sucks they only made almost $200M? Wait, I thought you movie folks were saying that games like Halo were hurting your sales. Were they or weren’t they? Because you’re telling me you had an awesome quarter. Let’s put this in perspective with a few numbers taken from Yahoo’s All Time Box Movie list:
#35 Shrek (05/16/01) $267,665,011
#03 Shrek 2 (05/19/04) $441,226,247
#18 Shrek the Third (05/18/07) $322,719,944

They have been putting out a new Shrek every three years and the quality has declined every time. Here’s what happened. Dreamworks lured people into the theaters only to show them a movie that sucked which translates to . . . “I am not buying that crap when it comes out on DVD.” Bamboozled.”Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you.” Who is the fool here?

Let’s look at their other movies:
– Shark Tale (10/01/04) $160,861,908
– Madagascar (05/27/05) $193,595,521
– Over the Hedge (05/19/06) $155,019,340
– Flushed Away (11/03/06) $64,459,316
– Bee Movie (11/02/07) $126,597,121

They are basically putting out crap every six to twelve months. All of their non-Shrek movies have failed to break the $200M mark . . . even Mediocre-gascar.

Other crap animated features:
– Ice Age [Fox] (03/15/02) $176,387,405
– Ice Age: The Meltdown [Fox] (03/31/06) $195,330,621
– Chicken Little [Disney] (11/04/05) $135,381,507
– Open Season [Sony] (09/29/06) $84,303,558
– Meet the Robinsons [Disney] (03/30/07) $97,821,064

Disney and Pixar are not synonymous as you’ll see below. Animated features tried to cash in on the success of movies like Toy Story, but dollars are not proportionate to the number of 3D animation pixels that are used.

Let’s look at Pixar:
Toy Story (11/22/95) $191,796,233
A Bug’s Life (11/20/98) $162,798,565
Toy Story 2 (11/24/99) $245,852,179
Monsters, Inc. (11/02/01) $255,873,250
Finding Nemo (05/20/03) $339,714,978
The Incredibles (11/05/04) $261,441,092
Cars (06/09/2006) $244,082,982
Ratatouille (06/29/07) $206,445,654

They paved the way for 3D animation with Toy Story. They made a small mistake with A Bug’s Life, which still earned them over $150M. They have not looked back since, making well over $200M with each new creation. It’s about quality over quanity at Pixar. They take the time to produce the best movie that they can. Sounds like some game studios (e.g. Blizzard, Bungie).

Dreamworks Animation is releasing Kung Fu Panda in June, which will feature the voice of Jack Black. Jack Black rules, but it better not suck. They thought that Jerry Seinfeld for Bee Movie would draw numbers, but they were wrong. Well, Seinfeld is a has-been at this point, right? There are already plans for “Shrek Goes Fourth.” Why?

Bottom line: stop making suck movies and we’ll start buying them again. I find pirating movies and games deplorable, but can you blame consumers? The movie industry needs to get with the times and their model has to evolve. Back in the day, it was the movie industry that was influencing society and the market, and it still is in a sense, but it has got to get back to innovation instead of resorting to laziness. The studios have to take more risks. I am enjoying all of the remakes as much as the next guy (a la Transformers), but there has got to be an end somewhere. Let’s get some original content.

I’ve shared this before and I’ll say it again (article). I recognize the gaming industry is pumping out its share of horrible sequel after sequel as well. I wonder, though, are gamers falling for it? The numbers show that gamers are selective about what they purchase nowadays. Game companies are constantly pushing the envelope, beginning with the hardware, all the way to the way stories are presented. The buzz word in the last year has been “visceral.” How involved is the consumer in the multimedia experience? U2 is trying to do this with their concert movie. The rest of the movie makers need to get on the ball and stop looking for scapegoats when the truth is . . . your movies suck.

Oh, and uh . . . quit mining video game storylines for your movie ideas. Don’t make a movie out of a game for that matter. Those suck, too.

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