Regular readers of this too-sporatic blog know I believe that great animation CAN save a weak story. The mantra that “Story, story, and story” are the three most important elements in an animated film is still heard throughout the land, but it’s still wrong. Further evidence of how wrong, or at least how incomplete, can be found in the surprise success of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Hotel Transylvania.
Go to Rotten Tomatoes and you’ll see that the critics had little good to say about the film’s story, even among the critics who enjoyed the film. But audiences are digging the insanely cartoony style. As I write this the opening weekend numbers are incomplete, but it’s safe to say this is Sony Picture Animation’s best opening among six attempts (Monster House, Open Season, Surfs Up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Smurfs). The current estimate is $43 million for the north American Box office by Monday, and while I wouldn’t be surprised if that estimate is slightly inflated, it’s a solid opening that projects out to a domestic total box office of $150-170 million. Not blockbuster status, but for a September release and a long-troubled project, it’s better than anyone dared hope. In fact, it sets a new record for the domestic opening weekend for September for all films, live action and animated.
For some comparison, Cloudy also opened in September and was SPA’s previous best opening weekend for a fully-animated film: $30.3 million. This is good news for Sony, for Genndy, and for a future filled with more extraordinarily cartoony CG films!
*It still amazes me how much we were allowed to blow these rigs up to match Genndy’s draw-overs. This still is a good example of what the rig allowed before all the tweaks were applied to match that drawing.