‘Book of Life’ Launches with $17 Million


This weekend the $50 million-budgeted Fox/Reel FX film The Book of Life, opened in the United States with an estimated $17 million. It’s a similar opening to Focus Features/Laika’s The Boxtrolls, which bowed to $17.3 million last month. However, the Jorge Gutierrez-directed Book of Life opened in nearly 400 less theaters, giving the film a significantly higher per-theater average than Box trolls ($5,537 vs. $4,987).

The Book of Life opening, which was enough for third place at the U.S. box office, is quite respectable for an animated feature not produced by one of the Big Six (Disney/Pixar/DreamWorks/Illumination/Blue Sky/Sony Pictures Animation). It is remarkably difficult for a film not made by one of these producers and backed by their respective distribution machines to crack the $20 million mark, with only 4 films managing that feat in the last five years: Happy Feet Two ($21.2 million), The LEGO Movie ($69.1 million), Rango ($38.1 million), and Gnomeo and Juliet ($25.3 million).

Deadline Hollywood reported further on Book of Life’s box office performance:

“It was a labor of love for Guillermo [del Toro] and Jorge [Gutierrez], and I think it manifests itself in the amount of voice talent they were able to amass,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for Fox. Voice talent for this visual stunner (the detail is incredible) included Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, and Ice Cube, to name a few. “The themes of the movie are universal even though they are rooted in Mexican culture,” he added. The film’s demo make-up was 30% Hispanic (which is higher than the norm but very representative of the film’s story), 57% female and 43% male. Also, 54% was — not surprisingly — under 25 years old. Of the kids demo, 59% were under 10 years old. “The one constant, regardless of age or gender was that it was 4.5 stars all the way through with a very high definite recommend,” said Aronson.

Internationally, Book of Life earned $8.6 million, including a second place debut in Mexico with $3.4 million and $2 million from Brazil. The film is expected to play well in Mexico through the Day of the Dead holiday, which takes place at the end of October.

Laika’s The Boxtrolls added an extra $2.7 million in the U.S., boosting its domestic total to $46.1 million, and $3.1 million from international territories for a $36.1 million total. Its global gross stands at $82.2 million with a couple dozen territories yet to come; previous global earnings for Laika films were $124.6 million for Coraline and $107.1 million for ParaNorman.

Finally, GKIDS launched Isao Takahata’s The Tale of The Princess Kaguya in three U.S. theaters with a gross of $51,700. The film’s $17,233 per-theater average is the highest ever recorded by GKIDS for a film in 3 or more theaters.


    Here in Mexico some people actually believed that the movie was a national production and I think that will convince them to go see it, I hope it does well in the US so we can see more movies with a different cultural background in the future.

    • akira

      cool! were a lot of the cast able to record their lines in Spanish as well as English?

      • Edward

        Diego Luna (the voice of Manolo) is the voice of the character in spanish. The same happens with the voice of La Muerte.

  • jonhanson

    Honestly it did better than I thought it would, hope the studio had somewhat realistic expectations about the Box Office so they can use this to build since the trajectory of their films so far is both impressive and encouraging.

  • tjarmstrong

    I tried to take my daughter mid-day on Saturday but it was sold out in the biggest room in our nearest massive Cineplex, with a line ready for the following showing already. I was bummed for us, but pleasantly surprised and stoked for the film and team involved. There’s a handful of posters and a billboard or two for it here in Chicago, but I did not expect any of the screenings to sell out. Going to have to wait until next weekend now. Bittersweet, but animation success warms my Grinchy heart.

  • Barrett

    “However, the Jorge Gutierrez-directed Book of Lifeopened in nearly 400 less theaters….”

    400 FEWER theaters…..c’mon now, you know better than that!

    As for the better per-theater numbers compared to Boxtrolls, it should be a secret to anyone. I’ve been seeing “Book of Life” ads on every bus stop, billboard, and major TV channel for the past three weeks at least. There’s a Happy Meal at McD’s featuring the movie on little trick or treat pails. In short; Fox actually marketed this movie to a wide audience, trying to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible before the premiere.

    Compare that to Boxtrolls; there were a couple of very charming and “magical feeling” trailers in theaters a few months back as a teaser, and probably a more mainstream trailer thrown in there at some point closer to the release date (I’ve been to almost no movies this summer so I might have missed it) and that’s really about it for marketing. No Happy Meals, no LCD billboard ads, no ads during the baseball playoffs, nothing. I think Paranorman got more media exposure than this did! I understand Laika is not trying to make Disney-level mass blockbusters, but you need to advertise for people to know about your movie!

  • Doug

    This caught my interest …

    Finally, GKIDS launched Isao Takahata’s The Tale of The Princess Kaguyain three U.S. theaters with a gross of $51,700. The film’s $17,233 per-theater average is the highest ever recorded by GKIDS for a film in 3 or more theaters.

    Will it get a wider release? Dying to see this.

  • clarity

    You’re trying to make a statistical comparison based on an estimate. In a few hours, we’ll have the real numbers.

    Please stop comparing the theatrical grosses of films like Boxtrolls and Book of Life with other failed films. These movies are losing money, and there’s no way to put a happy face on it. These studios are trying to compete with the major studios, and pretending they’re in some kind of entertainment special Olympics just makes those efforts look pathetic.

    • http://www.bobharper.com Bob Harper

      As a father of a special needs kid I like to thank you for the use of Special Olympics as an inferior thing. Why not compare it to Minor League in stead?

      I think it’s too early to determine if these two films are losing money. There are more territories and distribution windows to consider.

  • Pew Pew Pew

    Gnomeo was produced by Touchstone and Miramax, both owned by Disney at the time, and it was distributed by Disney directly.

  • Christian Bermejo

    The final tally in Mexico is around $3.6 M ($48.7 M pesos) and 2nd place (behind a Mexican movie by the way). Very respectable and it should keep up, as you mention, as the Day of Dead (November 2) approaches.

  • Gordon Shumley

    It’s probably the best looking animated movie with a $50 million budget i’ve ever seen.

  • DangerMaus

    Not a bad opening. I was sure that it would be crushed by FURY, but it managed to edge that film out for third place over the weekend. I’m hoping I can go see it tonight.