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Good Morning Hollywood, March 30: Taking Stock of ‘Dragon’

Wall Street shrugs off “How to Train Your Dragon” as it succumbs to one of the old movie-biz verities

In this morning’s roundup of movie news ‘n’ notes from around the web, Wall Street shrugs off “How to Train Your Dragon” as the film succumbs to one of the old movie-biz verities.

Topping the boxoffice does not always impress Wall Street – that, according to Richard Verrier, is one of the lessons of the $43.3 million opening for “How to Train Your Dragon,” which easily landed in the Number One spot but fell well short of the $59.3 opening of DreamWorks’ “Monsters vs. Aliens” last year. In the wake of the “Dragon” opening, DreamWorks stock actually fell almost 10 percent in Monday morning trading. One analyst says he’s concerned about the competition from this week’s opening of “Clash of the Titans,” and the subsequent erosion of those profitable 3D screens. (Company Town)

On the other hand, Barron’s suggests that this might be a fine time to pick up some DreamWorks stock: the good buzz suggests that “Dragon” might yet have a long run, and the fourth “Shrek” movie is due for release in less than two months. (Barrons, The Fly on the Wall)

How to Train Your DragonSteven Zeitchik looks at the boxoffice grosses for “How to Train Your Dragon” and wonders why the best-reviewed animated films (say, “Dragon” or last year’s “Coraline”) don’t do as well with moviegoers as lesser efforts like “Shrek the Third” or “Bee Movie.” His revelation that the best movies don’t always make the most money (shocking!) comes as something of a no-brainer for anybody who’s looked at the boxoffice figures for any recent Best Picture winner, though he tries to make the case that animation was supposed to be different. Pixar is different, maybe; the movie business is the movie business. (24 Frames)

“What’s an indie filmmaker to do?” ponders Eugene Hernandez as he breaks down the numbers behind turning a profit in an era in which “fewer companies are paying sizeable advances to buy rights for films” and “distributors are often spending less money to market their films.” His conclusion, after attending an independent-film symposium at Columbia University and studying the case of the micro-budgeted “Breaking Upwards,” is that ingenious filmmakers can find ways to break even, particularly with the right kind of movie. One tip: if you’re making a movie that’ll be available via video-on-demand, it helps to have a genre film, or one with stars … and if you don’t, then you should make sure its title begins with one of the first letters of the alphabet, so it shows up on the VOD screen guide right away. (indie WIRE)

The Columbia symposium, which went under the title “The Conversation,” also has its own blog, where it rounds up reactions and to an event that kicked off with Ira Deutchman’s advice, "We need to come to terms with the contradictions of a marketplace that simultaneously gets more accessible by the day, and more difficult by the day." (The Conversation)

Jeff Wells gets the news from Fisher Stevens: “The Cove,” the Oscar-winning documentary that Stevens produced with director Louie Psihoyos, has had its crucial Japanese release postponed. According to what Stevens told Wells, the film’s Japanese distributor, Medallion Media, has pushed back the release from May 15 to July 15, “due to some manner of pressure from some governmental agency, or perhaps from the courts.” Apparently, threats from the fishing village whose annual dolphin slaughter was secretly filmed for the movie have given the distributor cold feet. The filmmakers were ecstatic over the Oscar win largely because the Academy Awards draw an enormous audience in Japan, but every delay hurts the film’s ability to use its Kodak (Theater) moment to attract viewers. (Hollywood Elsewhere)

The NC-17 rating turns 20 this year. Julia Rhodes commemorates that fact with a look at a system she calls “terminally flawed,” and a rating that lives more in home video than in movie theaters. The roundup of recent films to receive the rating concludes, for the most part, that the movies didn’t deserve those scarlet letters (and numbers). But when it comes to the MPAA and the ratings sytem, deserve’s got nothing to do with it. (California Literary Review)