Friday, February 02, 2007

Dreamworks and Aardman

This week has been a week of DreamWorks and Aardman news. The two companies had planned to make 5 films together but have parted ways after just 3 of them.

The films made in the deal were:
  • Chicken Run
  • Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit
  • Flushed Away
The claim from DreamWorks is that the films were unprofitable which seems a reasonable reason to split, but for me the numbers just don't add up.

Here's a few films to help the comparison:

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (one of the all time most profitable films of all time)
Opening Weekend: $136M
USA: $423M
Global: $1,065M
Estimated Cost: $150M ($450M for the 3 films)

Wallace and Gromit
Opening Weekend: $16M (top for that weekend)
USA: $56M
Global: $186M
Cost: $30M

Happy Feet
Opening Weekend: $41.6M
USA: $192M
Global: $355M

Monster House
Opening weekend $22M
USA: $74M
Global: $137M
Cost: $75M

Over the Hedge
Opening Weekend $38M
Global: $239M

Ant Bully
Global: $54M
Cost: $50M

Polar Express
Cost: $170M

Cost: $100M

USA: $19M
Global: $61M
Cost: $40M (target)

Flushed Away
USA: $62M
Global: $154M
Cost: $149M Split between ($90M production, $30M prints and advertising)

Looking at these figures, the Wallace and Gromit made a not insignificant profit of $150M and Flushed Away is breaking even so far. Of course these numbers don't take into account deals with people such as McDonalds or other Merchandising and they don't include DVD sales. Flushed away cost more than average for a CGI film, this is probably because of learning and because early in production it was going to be stop motion but was changed to be CGI so some costs were written off. It may also have been because of the work force being in different countries. But the claim from Dreamworks that it made a massive loss from the film seems unfounded.

Aardman and Dreamworks claim to have separated amicably so there should be few loosers from this split. As we saw a few weeks ago Aardman have plenty of work on and seem to be doing quite well and have announced that they are planning on making another Wallace and Gromit film. However one predicted looser is the Crood Awakening film written by John Cleese which is believed to have been put on hold by Dreamworks. A reworking of the Hare and the Tortoise in mockumentary style was also planned.

Some related links.

Marketing Spend on films

Cost of Animation

Animator Pay

Curse of the Were Rabbit