Monday, May 17, 2010

Worrisome Signs for Shrek Forever After

It's still relatively early, but it is not looking good for Shrek Forever After this weekend on various fronts. First it's the BOM poll numbers:

MovieOpening WeekendSometime in TheatersOn DVDOn TVNever# of Users
Shrek the Third38.1%27.2%19.9%4.4%10.3%1,355
Monsters vs. Aliens27.7%26.0%23.5%6.4%16.4%1,398
Kung Fu Panda23.0%23.8%25.2%6.2%21.8%1,548
How to Train Your Dragon22.5%24.0%24.1%5.4%24.1%1,563
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa21.5%17.7%25.3%6.7%28.8%1,540
Shrek Forever After23.4%24.1%23.5%7.7%21.3%991

I used all Dreamworks' animated films for comparison to eliminate a few external factors.  For example, their brand doesn't have the online appeals that Pixar, which consistently pull in 30%+ for the Opening Weekend % although never having a start bigger than $70.5m, possess.  Also none of them has a director as big as Tim Burton, who helped to push Alice in Wonderland's OW% to 45.5%.  Instead, Dreamworks productions are more or less comparable with each other.  From this chart, we could see that Shrek Forever After is trailing far behind Shrek the Third in terms of OW% and almost doubled it in the Never %.  3D will certainly help, but both Monsters vs. Aliens and How to Train Your Dragon were also released in 3D, and they didn't open anywhere near where most are expecting Shrek Forever After will open to ($100m+).  On the other hand, there is also Madagascar 2, where it achieved a $63m opening purely on 2D with worse poll numbers, and if Shrek 4 just has 10% higher admissions as the poll difference suggests, it would translate to an $85-90m start with the amount of 3D screens it will have.

Besides the BOM polls, another disconcerting fact is that of the two services who report tracking numbers, Major Theater Chain has it far lower than ReelSource, 85 vs. Mid 100-110's (a 20-25% difference), and from past history, this highly suggests an opening much closer to MTC's figure.  Of course, MTC turned out to lowball Shrek the Third by about 17% (105 predicted vs. 122.5 actual), but RS's number wasn't really higher that it that time either.  Then there is the argument that Shrek franchise is simply different from all other animated films and could just defy any perceivable negative signs.  Shrek Forever After could certainly continue such trend, but my feeling is that with the mediocre word-of-mouth Shrek the Third had and some tiredness of the franchise after a whole 9 years, Shrek Forever After will face significant bigger obstacles than any previous film did, and a 40% decrease in attendance as the BOM poll suggested (23.4% vs. 38.1% OW) is not just possible, but likely.  Adding the 3D/IMAX premium, it will mean an opening around $90m.


  1. I agree. Shrek is curdled milk.

  2. Wow, nice analysis, I guess I should have read this earlier. It looks like your prediction (that most would have written off as too low) is going to turn out to be about 20 million too high...