zootopiafeature

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better? Disney Animation Unleashes “Zootopia”

Box Office Brasserie: Movie News For Movie Lovers

There was a time, not too long ago, that Pixar was the gold standard inside the Magic Kingdom, but not so anymore.

With the renewed success of Disney Animation—“Tangled,” Wreck-It Ralph,” “Big Hero 6” and, of course, “Frozen”—the elder institution of toons arguably stands toe to toe with Pixar’s output of late…and possibly surpasses its stablemate in the originality department.

In fact, Pixar’s first misfire, “The Good Dinosaur,” seemed stuck with strands of DNA reminiscent of sub-par Disney Animation films from the past like “Home on the Range,” “The Wild,” “Valiant,” and most recently, “Planes.”

Pixar’s product is usually on point—thrilling, inventive, and most importantly something for all ages—and no doubt they will be back in form with “Finding Dory.” However, it’s Disney Animation that is really amping it up creatively.

“Zootopia,” which will be unleashed in 3,700+ theaters this weekend, looks like another monster hit for Disney Animation, as reviews have been off the charts good…just like Pixar. In fact, Rotten Tomatoes currently rates it 100% fresh. That’s not bad, folks.

And while Pixar will be leaning on sequels over the next couple years, Disney Animation is the one trailblazing new franchises, and more importantly, new streams of merchandizing…an entire zoo full of them.

A super team-up of directors, Byron Howard (“Tangled”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph”), looks like it will pay off in a big way for the Mouse House as “Zootopia” should cage upwards of $65M this weekend. And without another true family film until Disney’s live-action “The Jungle Book” from Jon Favreau in mid-April, this will have a shelf life that pushes the domestic grosses past $200M.

Internationally, “Zootopia,” or “Zootropolis” as it’s known in some territories, has already tallied up $81M, and looks to be another slam dunk, $500M+ worldwide for the studio.

If Disney is slamming it home, then Gerard Butler is getting stuffed. His film, “Gods of Egypt,” became 2016’s first massive misfire, as Lionsgate’s $140M swords and sandal debacle debuted with just $14M last weekend. I mean, think about that—that’s $11M less than where “Battleship” opened. I mean, even “Jupiter Ascending” orbited $18M.

Butler returns to the safety net of sequels this week with “London Has Fallen,” the continuing saga of 2013’s “Olympus Has Fallen,” which grossed $161M worldwide on a $70M budget.

The original cast of Morgan Freeman, Aaron Echhart, and Butler all return, this time jumping the Atlantic to help the Brits deal with with terrorism the only way they know how: rated R style.

In 3,250+ theaters, Focus Features’ flick will likely fall a bit short of the original, which debuted with $30M. Expect $22M or so, maybe less, as reviews have been pretty terrible.

Also rolling out is Tina Fey’s latest, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” otherwise known as “WTF,” otherwise known as…well, you know what that stands for.

Paramount gave Fey the greenlight for another R-rated pic, just like her last film, Universal’s “Sisters.” However, this adventure walks a much more serious line, as it’s based on war correspondent Kim Barker’s best selling memoir, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rolling out in 2,300+ venues expect a debut of around $13M, as I doubt “WTF” is as good as her new round of American Express commercials which absolutely kill it…and are free…no pirating necessary.

Reviews back up that statement, as Rotten Tomatoes currently has it rotten at 56%.  That certainly won’t help word of mouth, which was a big part of the success of “Sisters.”  Now, when will Fey finally do that Sarah Palin feature???

Flying in under the radar is Fox’s “The Other Side of the Door,” an R-rated chill pill that drops in just 500+ theaters.  The studio has attempted this before, recently with “The Pyramid,” which debuted with $1.3M in 589 theaters back in 2014.

There’s a reason they don’t often do this: the results are scary. Scary bad.

In exclusive release, Terrence Malick returns to torment your mind, or expand it, depending on how you roll, with Broad Green’s “Knight of Cups.”

The one thing you can say about Malick is that he’s a true auteur, an original. And as always, he has a great cast doing his demented bidding, this time featuring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas, and Imogen Poots, to name a few.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES:

  1. Zootopia – $64M
  2. London Has Fallen – $20M
  3. Deadpool – $18M
  4. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – $12M
  5. Gods of Egypt – $7M

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SLIMEY CUT OF THE WEEK: Sony’s “Ghostbusters” (July 15, 2016)

Let’s face it: in our lifetime all of our favorite iconic 80s flicks will be retooled, rebooted, and remixed. And the thing about a remixing a classic is this: it will never live up to the original. Paul Feig is a talented comedic director, and the gals in this are very funny comedians, but what they’re up against is something much, much bigger than the Stay Puft marshmallow man–they’re up against 80s nostalgia, and you can never win that battle. This will be the most polarizing film of the summer, mark my words.

Now, I’m not saying this won’t do well, it probably will. However, not as good as the filmmakers and studio think it will.  Slime time is already past its prime, and the initial scene where the ghost projectile vomits in Kristen Wiig’s face is extremely telling: the original went for low-key laughs, and it earned them. The reboot gets right up in your grill, and tries to exploit laughter.  That’s two very different styles of filmmaking. Very different tones.  I’m betting most true fans of the original aren’t gonna be on board for this one, but the next generation might be. I know who I’m calling…Dan Aykroyd. See if he can get the band back together one more time…

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“Zootopia” Image Courtesy of Disney Animation; Poster Design by Legion Creative Group

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.