Author Topic: The Polar Express  (Read 8722 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

modage

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 10836
  • Respect: +806
    • Floating Heads
The Polar Express
« Reply #45 on: November 15, 2004, 02:21:00 PM »
0
yes, i understand that.  and i realize that its more the studios/corporations/businesses who are rolling out christmas early and not the publics demand for it.  cant watch 30 minutes of tv without seeing half a dozen christmas themed commericials already!  and try walking into a drugstore in late october without seeing the halloween stock dwindling and the christmas stuff sitting in a nearby isle.   i realize theres not much we can do about it, except in cases like Surviving Christmas where the public spoke that october is too early for a christmas movie by not going to see it. thats the only voice we have about this stuff.  

also, a third reason for its release is wanting its own space between oct's surviving and thanksgiving weekends sure-thing hit christmas with the kranks.
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.

Jeremy Blackman

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 11254
  • Respect: +1500
The Polar Express
« Reply #46 on: November 15, 2004, 02:35:24 PM »
0
Quote from: themodernage02
i realize theres not much we can do about it, except in cases like Surviving Christmas where the public spoke that october is too early for a christmas movie by not going to see it. thats the only voice we have about this stuff.

Do you think people are making that kind of statement with Polar Express now? Will it change things? Because really, I think people are seeing the movie for the technology, not for the Christmas.

And seriously, I didn't even know this movie was about Christmas. I may not have seen it.
"Hunger is the purest sin"

MacGuffin

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 22985
  • Respect: +643
The Polar Express
« Reply #47 on: November 15, 2004, 02:58:28 PM »
0
Quote from: themodernage02
i realize theres not much we can do about it, except in cases like Surviving Christmas where the public spoke that october is too early for a christmas movie by not going to see it.


Or it could be the public saying, 'We are so over Ben Affleck.' I think that's the bigger reason. The movie just didn't look good.

Quote from: Jeremy Blackman
I think people are seeing the movie for the technology, not for the Christmas.


'Polar Express' Sets Record for Imax Release

TORONTO (Reuters) - Tom Hanks' holiday movie "The Polar Express" has set an opening weekend record for a Hollywood film released in Imax Corp.'s giant-screen format, the company's co-chief executive said on Monday.

Brad Wechsler said the film grossed $2.1 million over the weekend in 59 North American Imax theaters for a total of $3 million in receipts since Wednesday.

"We're extremely pleased in terms of its absolute performance in Imax. We've set a new weekend record for us ... we've had a ton of sold out shows and our advance sales to consumers have been great," Wechsler told Reuters.

In the battle of computer-animated cartoons, "The Polar Express" pulled in at a distant No. 2 at North American weekend box offices after "The Incredibles," according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.

"The Polar Express," which reportedly cost $270 million to make and market, opened with a modest $23.5 million for the weekend, distributor Warner Bros. Pictures said. Since its release on Wednesday, it has grossed $30.8 million.

But Wechsler said the movie has outperformed other Hollywood films released simultaneously in the Imax format and regular theaters, including the "Harry Potter" and "Matrix" sequels.

Shares of Mississauga, Ontario-based Imax, which is run largely from New York, were up 10 cents, or about 1 percent, at $7.15 on Nasdaq on a volume of more than 300,000. In Toronto, the stock rose 25 Canadian cents to C$8.65.

"Polar Express opened to impressive Imax box office and is likely to have legs in Imax, in our view. We believe the films' performance will make exhibitors and studios take more notice of Imax," Soleil Research Associates analyst Marla Backer said in a note to clients.

"We reiterate our 'buy' rating on Imax shares and expect them to respond positively to the 'Polar Express' data."

In recent years, Imax has made deals with Hollywood studios to release potential blockbusters in the Imax format at the same time they hit regular theaters. The strategy is designed to fuel its main business of leasing and servicing its big-screen movie theater systems.

Wechsler said the company has had "serious" talks with Hollywood studios about releasing four to six new movies in the large format. He would not disclose which titles, but said the upcoming "Star Wars" prequel and Peter Jackson's "King Kong" remake are the types of movies Imax hopes to release.

The firm has not disclosed its financial arrangement with "Polar Express" distributor Warner Bros., but said it ultimately benefits if the studio and theater chains make money.

"Obviously, we're delighted with the financial performance of 'Polar', and it should translate into the sale of more Imax systems and the growth of our network," he said.

"There is almost always a participation in the box office. It's a licensing transaction where we receive money up front, and then a minimum royalty, and then an overage depending on the performance of the theater."
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


Skeleton FilmWorks

MacGuffin

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 22985
  • Respect: +643
The Polar Express
« Reply #48 on: November 17, 2004, 06:18:10 AM »
0
Why is the $170-million 'Polar Express' getting derailed?
A huge budget, new technology and tough competition have the film on a precarious track.
Source: Los Angeles Times

Sometimes people invent cars no one wants to buy. Sometimes people dream up soda pop no one wants to drink. And sometimes filmmakers make movies with an exotic new technology that no one wants to see, like, ahem, "The Polar Express." A hugely expensive gamble that has landed with an Edsel-like thud at the box office, the $170-million Robert Zemeckis-directed film finds itself sandwiched between two other family movies, Pixar's wildly successful "The Incredibles" and "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie," which is getting a big rollout from Paramount Pictures this coming weekend.

As is often the case in Hollywood, the body was barely cold when the postmortems come flooding in. Last Friday, when "Polar Express" had been open for all of about 45 hours, a rival studio executive assessed its chances of success: "It's a disaster." By Monday, everyone was on the phone with typical expressions of faux concern. "Oh, that's so horrible about 'Polar Express,' " one agent said. "Warners must have black crepe in all the windows," which is Hollywood-ese for, "Thank God I don't have a client in that movie."
 
If nothing else, "Polar Express" is a cautionary tale about how there are no sure things in Hollywood, even when a big star like Tom Hanks and a top director like Zemeckis are at the helm. Having bought the rights to the slender 29-page book years ago, Hanks teamed up with Zemeckis, who made "Forrest Gump" (1994) with the actor. The director has been one of Hollywood's leading exponents of special-effects wizardry, dating back to his magical marriage of live action and cartoon thrills in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988).

What went wrong? First off, special effects don't come cheap — and neither did the "Express" talent. When Hanks and Zemeckis took "Polar Express" to Universal Pictures, where there was a deal with Castle Rock Entertainment, the film's producers, the studio was unenthusiastic about making a movie for which the two men would get not only $40 million in salary but 35% of the first-dollar gross — 20% to Hanks, 15% to Zemeckis. The studio was also nervous about making such an expensive film with performance capture, a largely untested new technology that uses real actors whose facial and body movements become the template for digitized characters.

At one point, Universal and Warners considered making the film together, but when the talent refused to cut their prices, Universal bowed out.

Warners eventually found a partner in Steve Bing, a real estate heir who is one of the many well-heeled outsiders who have been investing in movies in recent years, often to the detriment of their bank accounts (just ask Phil Anschutz, who lost untold millions bankrolling the flop "Around the World in 80 Days"). Bing put up about $85 million of his own money to co-finance the film, which barely made $30 million its first five days of release, far short of anyone's expectations.

Even worse, the technology takes the star out of the movie. He may play five parts, but there's no Tom Hanks in the film. Not only is his face gone, but the performance capture somehow leaches his trademark charm and everyday humanity off the screen as well. The technology also brings out the worst in Zemeckis. Earlier in his career, he made irresistibly airy, exuberant comedies, but his more recent films have been increasingly chilly and soulless, qualities that deaden "Polar Express" as much as its technology does.

Then the film's performance-capture technology turned out to be a bigger turnoff than Warners imagined. Kids who saw the film's TV spots had trouble identifying with the characters, who appear not only remote and zombie like, but oddly old-fashioned, as if they'd escaped from a Norman Rockwell etching. As Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern put it: "It's not just an epidemic of dead eyes, but deadened features that make the kids look bleak, sleep deprived or simply sad." When you're competing against the lively, cutting-edge technology of a Pixar film like "The Incredibles" or a film with the playful charm of "SpongeBob," sad and sleep deprived is a tough sell.

The biggest cause for second-guessing has come from Warners' decision to release the film five days after "The Incredibles," which is sort of like a guy taking a girl out on a date right after she's spent the night with George Clooney. Pixar is a tough act to follow.

On the other hand, what was Warners to do? If you have a Christmas movie, you can't wait until Christmas to release it, because after the holiday your business drops off a cliff. Warners could've waited until Thanksgiving weekend, but that would have given the film a shorter run and put it opposite another holiday film, "Christmas With the Kranks." Although it seems hard to believe, Warners was actually more concerned about coming out after "SpongeBob" than "The Incredibles," in part because the studio thought the Pixar film might underperform. Warners' thinking may have been influenced by the fact that "Incredibles" director Brad Bird's last film, "Iron Giant" (1999), was a flop for Warners, which perhaps made it easier for the studio to take a dim view of his new film.

Warners is putting a brave face on things, saying it's way too early to declare defeat, noting that exit polls have been strong for "Polar Express." Studio executives also point to "Elf," a New Line film that had a $31-million opening weekend last year, yet went on to make $173 million in domestic grosses. Alas, "Elf" cost about $140 million less than "Express" and got far better reviews. Warners discounts the high-profile bad reviews for "Express," saying that elite media publications like the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly (the Time-Warner-owned magazine that gave the film a C-plus) are out of touch with heartland moviegoers.

However, a quick search turned up negative reviews in such towns as Austin, Texas, and Charlotte, N.C. Writing in the Charlotte Observer, Lawrence Toppman said that while the film "would have made a superb half-hour TV special, Zemeckis has created a steroidal monster with a heart about one size too small."

What really seems like wishful thinking is Warners' belief that the film's box-office performance will somehow improve as the holidays grow near. This ignores the fact that studio tent-pole movies don't build an audience from word of mouth, the way independent films do. Warners doesn't grow its movies; it uses marketing to create an opening-weekend juggernaut, knowing the audience will drop off steeply immediately afterward when some other studio shells out $40 million to seduce moviegoers into seeing their blockbuster. Since the first "Harry Potter" film arrived in November 2001, Warners has released 10 Big Event movies. All 10 have dropped off at least 36% in their second weekend; seven of the 10 have dropped off at least 49%. Not one of them had as low an opening-three-day-weekend total as "Polar Express."

The overseas prospects for "Express" aren't especially encouraging, even though Warners' "The Last Samurai" (2003), which was prematurely labeled a flop by the media, ended up making a ton of money across the globe. Christmas movies don't travel so well. "Elf" made $173 million here, but only $46 million overseas. "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000) made $260 million in the U.S., only $80 million abroad.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Not really. No matter how poorly "Express" does, it will hardly be Warners' biggest flop, a distinction, at least recently, that belongs to "Looney Tunes," a would-be franchise financed entirely by the studio that showed up dead on arrival at almost the same time last year. Hanks may be in a slump, but if he survived "Joe vs. the Volcano," he'll surely survive this.

Bing may have ignored the oldest maxim in Hollywood — never spend your own money — but he has plenty more money to lose.

It could be argued that it's crazy to spend $170 million to make a movie, but you can always point to "Titanic" as proof that the most extravagant bet can sometimes pay off. "Polar Express" simply stands as yet another reminder that, no matter how much today's sprawling media giants try, they'll never be able to take the risk out of the movie business.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


Skeleton FilmWorks

Myxo

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 1768
  • Respect: +29
The Polar Express
« Reply #49 on: November 17, 2004, 11:05:19 AM »
0
Quote
Even worse, the technology takes the star out of the movie. He may play five parts, but there's no Tom Hanks in the film. Not only is his face gone, but the performance capture somehow leaches his trademark charm and everyday humanity off the screen as well. The technology also brings out the worst in Zemeckis. Earlier in his career, he made irresistibly airy, exuberant comedies, but his more recent films have been increasingly chilly and soulless, qualities that deaden "Polar Express" as much as its technology does.


I noticed this from the clips I've seen as well.

Finn

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 1041
  • Respect: 0
The Polar Express
« Reply #50 on: November 17, 2004, 04:32:47 PM »
0
I thought this movie was amazingly beautiful and probably Robert Zemeckis' best movie since Forrest Gump.
Typical US Mother: "Remember what the MPAA says; Horrific, Deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty words."

Pubrick

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 12170
  • on the not-face of it
  • Respect: +781
The Polar Express
« Reply #51 on: November 18, 2004, 11:26:14 AM »
0
Quote from: Small Town Loner
I thought this movie was amazingly beautiful and probably Robert Zemeckis' best movie since Forrest Gump.

i'm beginning to see why no one in ur town wants to socialize with u.
under the paving stones.

NEON MERCURY

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 3853
  • Respect: +18
The Polar Express
« Reply #52 on: November 18, 2004, 07:33:50 PM »
0
Quote from: Pubrick
i'm beginning to see why no one in ur town wants to socialize with u.


hahahaha


small town loner is the king of the one/two sentence(s) reviews

Finn

  • The Master of Two Worlds
  • *****
  • Posts: 1041
  • Respect: 0
The Polar Express
« Reply #53 on: November 18, 2004, 09:40:56 PM »
0
ha, very clever :wink:

But I do think this movie got way too much bad buzz.
Typical US Mother: "Remember what the MPAA says; Horrific, Deplorable violence is okay, as long as people don't say any naughty words."

abuck1220

  • The Vision Quest
  • **
  • Posts: 282
  • Respect: +7
The Polar Express
« Reply #54 on: November 25, 2004, 11:55:14 PM »
0
i liked the message it sent about how much fun can ensue when kids accept rides from strange men with moustaches.

Jeremy Blackman

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 11254
  • Respect: +1500
The Polar Express
« Reply #55 on: November 29, 2004, 03:27:52 PM »
0
Can we now officially say that this is the most overbudgeted movie in history?
"Hunger is the purest sin"

MacGuffin

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 22985
  • Respect: +643
The Polar Express
« Reply #56 on: December 03, 2004, 02:13:30 AM »
0
I think I can: Slow build fuels 'Polar'
By Nicole Sperling/Hollywood Reporter

While it would be an overstatement to call it a proverbial Christmas miracle, Warner Bros. Pictures' "The Polar Express" is confounding expectations. After a disappointing opening, it rebounded last weekend at the boxoffice and now is on track to perform significantly better than its naysayers originally predicted, becoming a rare example of a film whose future isn't determined by its opening weekend.

Director Robert Zemeckis' animated film, which debuted Wednesday, Nov. 10, pulled in a weak $23.3 million in its first weekend Nov. 12-14. Hollywood's instant judgment was that the $170 million spectacle was virtually dead on arrival. Executives at rival studios theorized that Warners, which bankrolled the high-tech adaptation of Chris Allsburg's popular children's story, might have to write down its $85 million production investment, in addition to the $125 million it is spending on worldwide marketing.
 
Some critics were equally harsh, arguing that the characters had a "dead-eyed" look and comparing it unfavorably to Pixar Animation Studios' "The Incredibles," which opened five days before "Polar" and ignited the boxoffice with a $70.4 million debut frame.

Amid all the criticism, Warners held firm with its faith in the film. Warner Bros. president Alan Horn went public with his belief in the movie as well as Zemeckis and its star Tom Hanks.

With "Polar's" release sandwiched between that of "The Incredibles" and Paramount Pictures' "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie," the studio argued that the Christmas-themed film needed to open as early as possible in mid-November to build momentum before the holidays. Armed with an A+ from CinemaScore exit polls and strong screening reactions nationwide, the studio was convinced that the film would pick up steam.

Now that the dust has settled after the Thanksgiving holiday, "Polar's" fortunes are looking more hopeful. In its third weekend of release, the film rose 24%, taking in an additional $19.3 million. Its domestic cume now stands at $84.3 million. The film still pales in comparison to "The Incredibles," which has garnered $214 million after four weeks in release.

But with no more family-oriented pics entering the marketplace until Dec. 17 -- when Paramount's "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" opens wide -- "Polar's" domestic gross, once predicted to rise to only $80 million, is now expected to grow to at least $115 million-$120 million.

"This may not be what everybody wanted, but Warners won't have to hang their heads in shame over this boxoffice," said one industry insider. "In the end, if they do $300 million worldwide and with DVD and everything else, the spin will be that this movie will have to be judged on a five- to seven-year curve, and I agree with that."

"Polar" producer and Castle Rock CEO Martin Shafer believes that the movie will eclipse initial predictions domestically.

"There wasn't panic at all," he said of the opening-weekend numbers. "We were distressed by a lot of the press coverage that presented the film in a way we didn't believe. ... Our belief is born out of our exit polling, which was along the lines of CinemaScore's and was as high as any movie Warners has had. We believed people would find it, and that's what is happening."

With many kids having already sampled "The Incredibles" -- in some cases with repeated visits -- parents are now likely to take their younger moviegoers to either "Polar" or "SpongeBob" as their next movie outing. And since "Polar" plays to seasonal Christmas themes, it's in a position to take full advantage of prevailing holiday cheer.

Warners recognized that a Christmas-themed movie may not have been what parents were looking for just two weeks after Halloween, when it opened. As a result, its initial launch campaign focussed more on a journey to the unknown rather than a visit to Santa in the North Pole. In fact, according to one Warners marketing executive, the pre-launch campaign featured only 20% of holiday content, while the campaign that launched the week of Thanksgiving was 50% holiday, and the one entering the marketplace this week will be 95% holiday content.

And while most marketing dollars are spent on films before they enter the marketplace, Warners planned a concentrated flow of media dollars throughout the first three weeks of the campaign from Nov. 10 through the Thanksgiving holiday.

"There was as much weight targeted toward families and kids the few days prior to Thanksgiving as there was going into the launch of the film," said the marketing executive, who declined to be identified. "We knew the film was holding and the audience was going to go, so we concentrated our buys throughout that period."

One major factor that has contributed to "Polar's" turnabout is its 3-D performance on Imax's screens. Playing on 61 screens, the film has grossed more than $11 million in three weeks of release. During the Thanksgiving holiday period, the Imax version generated $3.8 million, for a per-screen average of $62,700.

Imax filmed entertainment president Greg Foster attributed the movie's success to positive word-of-mouth, a broader-reaching audience and a carefully integrated marketing campaign. The 3-D version also seems to be connecting more with older audiences, who are as interested in the projection technology as the film itself.

"The movie is absolutely working heads and tails in Imax," Foster said. "The 3-D element is a really exciting thing. It's bringing in a different crowd -- not just moms and kids, but it's luring in more teenage and college crowds as well as cinephiles and opinion makers who are spreading the word to others about how great the movie is."
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


Skeleton FilmWorks

modage

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 10836
  • Respect: +806
    • Floating Heads
The Polar Express
« Reply #57 on: December 03, 2004, 09:47:04 AM »
0
hmm.... a christmas movie playing well after thanksgiving?  who knew!??  hollywood executives really didnt see this coming?
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.

modage

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 10836
  • Respect: +806
    • Floating Heads
The Polar Express
« Reply #58 on: December 19, 2004, 09:25:59 PM »
0
so i saw this today finally after a month of waiting.  so, despite my girlfriend being a fan of van allsburgs work and my parents having read this story to my two siblings every year since they were little kids i've never read the book and dont know anything about the story.  so, i went in knowing very little about it.  i thought the first 5 or 10 minutes were perfect, everything until he gets on the train.  after that, perhaps the movie has a few too many action sequences, (i cant imagine trying to translate those to the book!  :wink: ), and loses its footing a little bit.  but overall i think the movie was very good.  even when it gets sidetracked with a bunch of visually stunning chases, the spirit of the piece comes back around at the end and i think it works.  i would've loved this thing if i could've seen it when i was little.  and considering the xmas films of recent years, i'd say this is probably the best in almost a decade.  (almost) untouched by cynicism or awful hipness and tie-ins, (steven tylers HORRENDOUS 10 second elf cameo aside), i'm really glad the movie stayed away from those trappings.  i thought some of the physical sequences were great though with the feather and the train engineers, just really well thought out stuff, but it was still a little too much by the final ride through town.  when the movie got back to the story of the book and the simplicity of the bell, it got back on track and ended wonderfully i thought.
Christopher Nolan's directive was clear to everyone in the cast and crew: Use CGI only as a last resort.

MacGuffin

  • Admin
  • *****
  • Posts: 22985
  • Respect: +643
The Polar Express
« Reply #59 on: January 03, 2005, 01:19:27 PM »
0
The choo-choo that grew legs
Slow-starting 'Polar Express' defied skeptics by finishing 2004 among the box office top 10.
Source: Los Angeles Times
 
As "The Polar Express" cruised into the top 10 movies of the year at the box office, executives at rival studios marveled at the computer-animated film's stamina and the way Warner Bros. handled the film.

"When this movie came out, with the opening weekend, the reviews, everybody thought it would just disappear," said Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Bruce Snyder, president of distribution for 20th Century Fox, said: "This movie did not in any way look like it was going to hit $100 million, and it just keeps going. Tom Hanks, Bob Zemeckis, all those elements, and they worked. People liked it."

Within the industry, the odds against "Polar Express" succeeding seemed so long that one executive at a rival studio, who did not want to be identified, made a bet that the movie wouldn't get past $80 million. As of Sunday, the film had grossed an estimated $155.2 million, and Warner Bros. expects it to reach $170 million and possibly more.

"By the end of this week," said Dan Fellman, president of distribution for Warner Bros., "it could hit 160."

As of Thursday, "we just crossed the $26-million mark in the Imax theaters," which Fellman predicted "may bring another $5 [million], maybe $8 million, that gets you to $170 million." As far as its final domestic total, "I've certainly got my eye on that $180 [million]," he said. Not bad for a movie that in its all-important first weekend earned $23 million, "obviously not as high as we had hoped," Fellman said. Analysts, competitors and the media all predicted a very short run for the film.

"In this business, we focus all our attention on the first weekend," which commonly represents a third or fourth of the final take for a big studio event movie, Blake said. "If it doesn't live up to expectations, we tend to write it off and move on."

But a strange thing happened with "The Polar Express."

It did not follow the usual pattern of dropping 40% to 50% in its second weekend. Instead, figures posted on tracking firm Box-officemojo.com show that it declined about 33% in its second weekend, then business went up about 24% in the third, which was Thanksgiving weekend. It accomplished that without adding any theaters. The only other films to post increases that weekend had added screens.

In every other weekend after it opened except for its fourth, "Polar Express" posted the smallest decline in business of any of the top 10 movies. It has also taken in roughly $101 million so far in foreign markets, according to Warner Bros.

"We reached out in our group sales effort to schools, religious organizations and corporate groups," Fellman said. "The response was overwhelmingly from schools." At the current rate, revenue from foreign, home video, TV and other ancillary markets should mean the film — which cost an estimated $170 million to make, not including marketing — could possibly break even.

"In the end," Fox's Snyder said, "they made a movie that people love."
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol


Skeleton FilmWorks

 

DMCA & Copyright | Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy