Tag Archives: Sony

Hotel Transylvania A Monster Animation Success, Sucks Up $43M

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania

Talk about a monster movie!

Animated 3-D family film Hotel Transylvania debuted over the weekend at the top of the United States and Canadian box office with $43 million, setting an all-time record for a September opening of a movie.

Featuring the voices of Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez, the hotel opened way ahead of live-action science fiction flick Looper, which collected $21.2 million between Friday and Sunday for second place.

Strong results for both movies helped resurrect a box office that has slowed over several weekd.

Domestic grosses for Hotel Transylvania were way ahead of distributor Sony Corporation’s prediction for at least $25 million in North America. Another $8.1 million was made overseas for a global opening of $51.1 million.

“It’s absolutely an incredible result,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for the Sony Pictures studio. He said that the studio had hoped for a gross around $30 million. Even that, he observed, “in this market would have been extraordinary.”

Hotel Transylvania cost $85 million to produce.

Sony Pictures Animation premiered Hotel Transylvania at 1,700 venues overseas. It opened at No. 1 in Mexico, contributing $3.6 million from 525 screens. In Australia, it opened at No. 3, bringing in $2.2 million from 465 locations.

The movie’s opening North American gross was far ahead of the previous September record-holder, Sweet Home Alabama, which debuted at $35.65 million a decade ago. However, considering the higher ticket prices these days, Sweet Home Alabama sold more tickets.

As well, Sony distributed live-action time-travel tale Looper, starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt.

“Sony really kind of saved the day here, turning things around after a full month of less-than-stellar box office,” said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “The post-summer period didn’t exactly set the world on fire.”

Sony was able to distribute two movies that didn’t have overlapping audiences. That enabled it to take the step — unusual for a single studio — of opening two wide releases on the same weekend.

Fox’s Ice Age: Continental Drift opened in Italy this weekend, grossing an enormous $7.8 million at 906 theaters. Overall, the series entry made $8.7 million at 1,055 locations sites in four countries abroad. The family film sequel has made a cumulative foreign total of $693.9 million, thus becoming the highest-grossing animated movie ever released overseas.

Even after 17 weeks abroad, DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is still generating money. Over the weekend, it made $6.1 million at 1,514 locations in 28 foreign countries. Overseas, it’s made a total of $422.7 million, with openings in Germany and Austria scheduled this week.

Pixar’s Brave made $5.2 million in this, its 15th overseas weekend, in 55 countries. The total foreign gross now stands at $281.9 million.

Distributed abroad by Universal, Laika Entertainment’s ParaNorman collected $2.3 million at 1,900 venues in 36 countries for a foreign total of $32.4 million.

[Via Reuters — news.yahoo.com/monsters-rule-box-office-hotel-transylvania-160632797–sector.html, Associated Press — news.yahoo.com/hotel-transylvania-checks-43m-debut-154646517–finance.html, The Hollywood Reporterwww.hollywoodreporter.com/news/foreign-box-office-resident-evil-retribution-hotel-transylvania-taken-liam-neeson-375216]

Dracula To Take A Big Bite Out Of BO?

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania

Sony Pictures Animation is set to take a big bite out of weekend box office with the release of the animated film Hotel Transylvania. Bets are on that the 3D film will slide to an easy victory in the weekend race to sales, with estimates raising as high as 35 million for the film.

Interestingly enough, one of the other two new releases this weekend is also from Sony, “Looper.” Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Rian Johnson, Looper is expected to come in at second place at 22 million. The third film will be a distant third, an expended box office bomb called, “Won’t Back Down.”

With a budget of about 100 million, Hotel Transylvania has had a long and troubled past. Various directors have included Anthony Stacchi, David Feiss and Jill Culton, with Genndy Tartakovsky helming the final version. In February of 2012 Selena Gomez replaced Miley Cyrus as Mavis.

Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free from meddling from the human world. But here’s a little-known fact about Dracula: he is not only the Prince of Darkness; he is also a dad.

Overprotective of his teenage daughter Mavis, Dracula fabricates tales of elaborate dangers to dissuade her adventurous spirit. As a haven for Mavis, he opens the Hotel Transylvania, where his daughter and some of the world’s most famous monsters – Frankenstein and his bride, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of werewolves, and more – can kick back in safety and peace. For Drac, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem – but his world could come crashing down when one ordinary guy stumbles on the hotel and takes a shine to Mavis.

Frank is also known as Frankenstein. Eunice is his in-your-face, over-the-top and larger-than-life Bride. Quasimodo, once the hunchback of Notre Dame, is now a crazy, passionate gourmet chef always looking for his next piece de resistance. Wayne and Wanda are a pair of married, harried werewolves, parents to an ever-increasing litter of pups, who are looking forward to their family vacation at the hotel.

Murray, a boisterous Mummy, was once entertainer to the great Pharaohs, and is now the life of the party, and always feeling the urge to let loose and sing. Jonathan is a 21-year-old regular guy, carefree and full of life, whose world travels land him at the Hotel.

Sony Pictures Animation becoming a “Manimal” house



Sony Pictures Animation is turning the short-lived Manimal into a live-action/CG hybrid film, having acquired movie rights to the 1983 NBC series.

Hugely prolific 1980s TV producer Glen A. Larson created the show about a man who could become an animal. Now Larson’s attached as a producer, thinking that a flop TV series can become a hit movie. Sony is looking for writers to develop a script.

In the Manimal series, wealthy Dr. Jonathan Chase, who had a mysterious past, became a black panther to help the police fight crime. Also starring were British actor Simon MacCorkindale and Melody Anderson, who portrayed Dale Arden in the 1980 movie Flash Gordon.

The series was canceled after just eight episodes, having been savaged by critics and ignored by TV viewers when it first aired — opposite the blockbuster Dallas.

Last summer, Sony struck paydirt with another live-action/CG film, The Smurfs, which went on to gross $500 million. A sequel to Smurfs is scheduled for release next summer.

And last month, it was reported the studio is developing a live-action/CG version of yet another ’80s TV series, ALF, with creator Paul Fusco, who also voices the title character.

[Via The Hollywood Reporter www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/manimal-tv-series-movie-sony-animation-370769]

SPA celebrates its 10th with special screenings

Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation

The 10th anniversary celebration of Sony Pictures Animation continues with a five-week series of special screenings featuring SPA’s technically competent but prosaic collection of animated and hybrid films, as well as reunions with filmmakers participating in Q & As following each screening, rare footage/materials from the SPA archives, and giveaways.

The series, which will culminate with an exclusive screening of the highly-anticipated comedy Hotel Transylvania, in theaters September 28, was announced Monday by Bob Osher, president of Sony Pictures Digital Productions, and SPA president of production Michelle Raimo-Kouyate.

Held in conjunction with ASIFA-Hollywood and Animation Magazine, the screenings will commence Wednesday, September 5 with the spotlight on SPA’s 2006 inaugural film, Open Season. Ensuing weekly Thursday presentations on the Sony Pictures Animation campus will feature the Academy Award-nominated Surf’s Up, the blockbuster hit Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, and last summer’s international smash The Smurfs. The series will conclude with a screening of Hotel Transylvania during the Saturday of the film’s opening weekend of release.

Enhancing each film exhibition will be unique offerings of rarely- or never-before-seen footage and materials from SPA’s first decade, and presented in coordination with panel discussions led by directors, producers and key crew members from each individual film. The exclusive weekly events will be moderated by respected animation experts, and the proceedings will be filmed and documented for sharing across the social media channels of Sony Pictures Animation, ASIFA-Hollywood and Animation Magazine.

“Milestones are an essential step for every institution to both celebrate and inspire, and I’m very proud of all that Sony Pictures Animation has accomplished in 10 short years,” Osher said. “I think these screenings and panels will give wonderful perspective as an appreciation of how far we’ve come, what we’ve achieved, and where we can go next.”

“This is an exciting time at Sony Pictures Animation with so much on the horizon, both near and far, but we stand here today because of the wonderful movies and filmmakers who came before us,” said Raimo-Kouyate. “These screenings will properly honor our seminal slate of films, while also giving fans a glimpse toward our bright future.”

“It is truly impressive to see the strides that Sony Pictures Animation has made in its first decade.” said ASIFA-Hollywood president Frank Gladstone. “And it is an honor for ASIFA-Hollywood, working with Animation Magazine, to help commemorate that journey with this terrific retrospective film series.”

Adds Jean Thoren, president and publisher of Animation Magazine: “Throughout this past decade, we have been lucky to witness and chronicle the rise and artistic growth of Sony Pictures Animation in the pages of our magazine. Now we are honored to help celebrate the achievements of this innovative studio along with ASIFA-Hollywood and millions of fans worldwide leading to the opening of Hotel Transylvania.”

The series’ initial four screenings will be hosted in Sony Pictures Animation’s revered Ray Harryhausen Theater, which will feature intimate exhibitions of SPA artwork in and around its facilities. Tickets for these one-time events will be primarily made available to members of ASIFA-Hollywood and through giveaways via Animation Magazine.

The current slate of films, and filmmaking panel participants (pending professional availability) for the Sony Pictures Animation Special Screening Series, goes as follows:

On September 5, SPA will present Open Season, the first film in the studios’ decade-long history. Among the rarities of the evening will be a presentation of the Oscar-winning short, The Chubbchubbs, along with a panel discussion among producer Michelle Murdocca, executive producer Steve Moore and character animator William Haller.

The Academy Award-nominated feature film Surf’s Up will screen on September 13, followed by a panel discussion by Oscar-nominated directors Ash Brannon and Chris Buck, producer Chris Jenkins and VFX supervisor Rob Bredow.

Breakout directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (21 Jump Street) return to their animation roots to present Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs on September 20. The directors will be joined by producer Pam Marsden and VFX supervisor Rob Bredow for a panel discussion of the film.

SPA’s international animation hybrid sensation, The Smurfs, will screen on September 27. A panel discussion will feature filmmakers and key artists.

The screening series will close its summer run with a Saturday, September 29 offering of Hotel Transylvania — during its opening weekend in theaters — at a public venue in order to accommodate ASIFA family members. Three-time Emmy-winning director Genndy Tartakovsky and producer Michelle Murdocca will lead the festivities.\

Following Hotel Transylvania on September 28, SPA will welcome the July 2013 release of The Smurfs 2, the follow-up to the 2012 global sensation. Cloudy 2: Revenge Of The Leftovers, a sequel to Sony Pictures Animation’s popular animated blockbuster, will reach theaters worldwide in February 2014.

Also now in development is Popeye, based on the King Features comic strip of that name, being directed by Tartakovsky, with the screenplay by Jay Scherick and David Ronn (The Smurfs), and Avi Arad (The Amazing Spider-Man) and Ari Arad (Iron Man) executive producing.

Kazorn and the Unicorn has Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2, Gnomeo & Juliet) at the helm, with co-director Troy Quane. Lloyd Taylor is writing the screenplay. Sam Raimi and Joshua Donen are executive producing.

The hybrid live-action/CG feature Secret Histories, written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, is being produced by Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Eric Robinson of the Gotham Group with Greg Little.

ALF ready to touch down at Sony Pictures Animation



Having just completed a deal to acquire rights to the 1980s sitcom ALF, Sony Pictures Animation will turn it into a feature film combining CG animation and live action.

Jordan Kerner, producer of last year’s similarly hybrid The Smurfs, is now on board.

Kerner will produce the project with series creators Tom Patchett and puppeteer Paul Fusco. Fusco is ready to repeat his TV role as the voice of the extraterrestrial houseguest.

In the original series, ALF stood for alien life form. The sitcom aired for 102 episodes from 1986 to 1990. The creature — whose name was later revealed as Gordon Shumway — was a friendly furry puppet who crash-landed on Earth, moving to the home of the suburban Tanner family. The sarcastic ALF liked to eat cats and was pursued by government forces.

DiC Enterprises and Saban Entertainment co-produced a cartoon  ALF series, which ran for 26 half-hour episodes in 1987-88. Fusco said in a May interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he hoped an ALF movie would finally be made.

The executive producers of the new movie are Ben Haber of Kerner Entertainment Co. and Kenneth Kaufman. Neither a director nor a writer has been attached.

Kaufman, Patchett and Fusco run Alien Production and have the rights to ALF. A former TV-movie producer, Kaufman is a former producing partner of Kerner’s. Their business partnership helped spark the upcoming feature film.

A longtime producer, Kerner has worked on the feature films Charlotte’s Web, The Mighty Ducks and Inspector Gadget. His most recent movie, The Smurfs, grossed over $563 million around the world.

Kerner and SPA have just completed production on The Smurfs 2, set for a July 31, 2013 release.

Blue Smurfs don’t keep Sony Corp. out of red ink

Sony  Corporation

Sony Corporation

Despite the popularity of the partly animated “The Smurfs,” Sony Corp. announced Thursday a record annual loss of 457 billion yen ($5.7 billion), marking its fourth year of red ink in a row.

Although sales improved in Sony’s film business — helped by TV shows that it produced and home video sales of movies — profits dropped a bit. The Smurfs and the live-action Bad Teacher helped neutralize the effects of the failure of Arthur Christmas, co-produced with Aardman Animations.

The entertainment and electronics firm, maker of the Spider-Man movies, reported a loss of 255 billion yen ($3.2 billion) for the quarter from January to March. That’s Sony’s fifth straight quarterly net loss. The fiscal year has been the worst in the Tokyo-based company’s 66-year history.

The most recent losses were greater than those in 1995, after Sony made a bad gamble by purchasing Hollywood studio Columbia Pictures.

Worsening the picture for Sony was factory and supplier damage in northeastern Japan, were last year’s earthquake and tsunami caused widespread damage. The flooding in Thailand also caused production disruptions for Sony.

Chief financial officer Masaru Kato believes that entertainment revenue will improve this year with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, Men in Black 3 and the new James Bond flick Skyfall.

Kazuo Hirai was appointed the company’s president last month, when he said that Sony would cut 10,000 jobs, or about 6% of its global workforce.

Sony shares have lost about half their value over the past year. They fell 1.2% to 1,213 yen during trading Thursday in Tokyo. Trading ended shortly before the earnings announcement.

Trailer To Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania

Sony Pictures Animation troubled production of the 3D animated Hotel Transylvania has something to show for the nearly 10 years in production it has seen. A first trailer. A first look at Adam Sandler’s Dracula as he parades around his stylish resort for overworked monsters.

Hotel Transylvania is the story of Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free from meddling from the human world. But here’s a little-known fact about Dracula: he is not only the Prince of Darkness; he is also a dad.

Currently helmed by Genndy Tartakovsky of Samurai Jack fame, the film has been directed at various times by Anthony Stacchi, David Feiss and Jill Culton. The film has also seen the comings and goings of Miley Cyrus as the voice of Mavis.

The film is produced by Michelle Murdocca, Amy Jupiter, Albie Hecht, and Robert Simonds for Sony Pictures Animation. The film will be released in 3D in selected theaters on September 21, 2012.

Blow me down: SPA hires writers for 3D Popeye film

Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Animation has set screenwriters Jay Scherick and David Ronn to write the screenplay for an all-new Popeye animated feature, based on the iconic characters of comic strip and cartoon fame, the studio announced Thursday.

Popeye is the second project for Scherick and Ronn with Sony Pictures Animation following their success with this summer’s blockbuster The Smurfs, which has grossed more than $550 million worldwide since its July 29 opening. SPA and Arad Productions are producing the stereoscopic 3D animated feature.

“Scherick and Ronn have a remarkable talent in re-energizing beloved characters,” said Sony Pictures Digital Productions president Bob Osher. “As they demonstrated with The Smurfs, they embrace the iconic characteristics of these timeless characters and craft a story that really engages moviegoers today.”

“We’re thrilled that Jay and Dave are helping us reintroduce Popeye to a new generation,” commented Michelle Raimo Kouyate, president of production for Sony Pictures Animation. “Their take on the world of Popeye has just the right blend of comedy, adventure and heart — all the elements that made a great animated film.”

“Popeye has been my childhood favorite character,” said producer Avi Arad. “To me, he was always the everyday man who gets special powers and actually becomes the first superhero in the best meaning of the word. When Scott Sassa called, Ari and I were beyond excited to be working with Jay Scherick and David Ronn and Sony Pictures Animation to bring this iconic character to the big screen in glorious stereoscopic 3D. We enjoy working with the Sony Pictures Animation team and with Rocky and company from Hearst Publishing. I cannot wait to go sailing!”

Last spring, Scherick and Ronn began work on the sequel to The Smurfs. They also wrote the original script for the upcoming Baywatch adaptation for Paramount, and the pair is currently working on a comedy pilot for ABC.

Scherick and Ronn have written together since they met when they both worked for a New York-based corporate bartering company. From a staff writing position at NBC, the team segued into three years on Spin City, where they served as writer/producers.

Sony Pictures Animation is scheduling the family comedy Hotel Transylvania for release in the fall of 2012. The division is also in production with Aardman Animations on two feature films: the CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas (3D), in theaters this month, and the stop-frame animated high-seas adventure The Pirates! Band of Misfits (3D), due next March.

SPA developing “Chickenhare” animated feature film



Sony Pictures Animation and Dark Horse Entertainment will develop an animated feature film based on the Dark Horse graphic novel series Chickenhare by Chris Grine, SPA president Michelle Raimo-Kouyate announced Wednesday.

Chickenhare is the story of a unique animal that is half chicken, half hare and all hero. The eponymous graphic novels in which Chickenhare was introduced, originally published in 2006 and 2008 by Dark Horse, follow him and his shelled sidekick, Abe, on their adventures in an amazing fantasy world filled with monstrous creatures, demonic critters, and danger lurking around every corner. The two pick up a few more friends and a few more problems, all while exploring themes of identity, family and friendship.

Mike Richardson and Keith Goldberg will executive produce on behalf of Dark Horse Entertainment. Michael Lachance will oversee the project for SPA with Raimo-Kouyate as president of production.

Sony Pictures Animation is always looking for original characters, and Chickenhare is a true original,” says Raimo-Kouyate. “This story has everything we want in an animated film — broad comedy, heartfelt emotion, universal themes, and a one-of-a-kind hero that audiences will love.”

“Chris Grine’s Chickenhare is one of the quirkiest characters we’ve ever published,” said Dark Horse president Mike Richardson. “We’re excited that the good people at Sony Pictures Animation responded so enthusiastically to what has to be one of our greatest comics-to-film projects yet. The more animated movies I see, the more I want to make them, and in Chickenhare, we found a character so colorful and three-dimensional that he could only exist in an animated world.”

Chris Grine is the creator of 165 Bots withStuff, which were featured on the Shoebox blog. He graduated from Ringling School of Art & Design in 2000 after completing three years at the Kansas City Art Institute.