‘Boxtrolls’ Opens with $17.3 Million; Laika’s Best-Ever U.S. Opening


Laika’s third feature film, The Boxtrolls, distributed by Focus Features, launched in third place in the United States with a final total of $17.3 million. The film was running head-to-head with The Maze Runner, which landed in second with $17.5 million. Final weekend numbers will be released Monday afternoon.

Boxtrolls managed to (barely) surpass Laika’s previous high, the $16.8 million debut of Coraline. Howevever, Coraline opened in 1,165 fewer theaters, and thus had a far higher per-theater average ($7,329 versus Boxtrolls’ $4,980).

Though it had a respectable opening, Boxtrolls was unable to capitalize on the recent lack of animated features at the box office and grow the audience for stop motion feature filmmaking in a significant way. While Boxtrolls also came close to beating the $17.5 million debut of Aardman’s Chicken Run, which is the best-ever U.S. opening for a stop motion film, both Chicken Run and Coraline had larger opening weekend audiences than Laika’s latest effort.

Boxtrolls also picked up an additional $5.1 million from 17 international territories, upping its foreign total to $17.7 million.

  • DangerMaus

    Way to try and put a positive spin on what is essentially a bomb of an opening. The opening for this film isn’t all that much better than for that OZ film earlier this year, and I’m pretty sure the budget for this film has to be higher than that one, considering the level of work in Boxtrolls.

    • AmidAmidi

      “Legends of Oz” had a $3.7 million opening and a per-theater average of $1,410. “Boxtrolls” had $17.3 million and a per-theater average of $4,980. The performance of the films are in no way similar, and make you look unknowledgeable for attempting to compare the two without offering a solid argument.

      • DangerMaus

        For some reason I thought I remembered that film having had a 12 million dollar opening, but it actually only grossed about 8.5 milllion totalin the U.S (this time I checked). Regardless, you are right. I shouldn’t have tried to rely on an obviously faulty memory. I should have checked first. Normally I do when it comes to something like this. In this case, I took a short cut and didn’t with this embarrassing faux pas being the result.

    • otterhead

      An animated film opening in third place is a far cry from being a ‘bomb’. Both previous Laika films opened lower, and were considered box office successes.

    • jmahon

      yeesh, if something isn’t Frozen, it’s a “bomb”. The worst thing about Frozen reaching the hit status that it did was that it created this unrealistic earnings benchmark nobody will ever be able to approach, but now everyone will be compared against.

      • DangerMaus

        If I had compared the opening of this film to FROZEN then I think I could have justfied calling it a bomb; however, I didn’t. I compared its opening to a film that only grossed a total of about 8.5 million in the U.S, so my calling it a bomb was, in that respect, an unwarranted claim and an embarrassing error.

        for the record, I’m not using the anomaly of FROZEN’s success to determine if an animated feature is a box office success. However, if you look at how Hollywood determines a successful feature nowadays, Boxtrolls would be considered a box office failure even if it makes its money back over its entire run.

        • Fried

          Because it’s not just about making it’s money back, it’s making more than twice it’s budget back so the studio has enough money to fund their next project while still having some security. You know, profit.

  • jhalpernkitcat

    I was really hoping it would get #1 at the box office this week–it was really terrific. I enjoy Laika’s films because they tend to step away from the usual “safe” boundaries of most animated films these days and manage to create something both dark and wonderful.(Parents may have to explain how allergies really work afterwards to younger children though)

  • Mr. James

    I saw it this weekend with my 3 year old son and he sat through the entire thing with nary a wiggle or distraction. Very visually stunning and enjoyable throughout.
    On it’s performance, I can report that in the theatre I went to for a 6:20 showing there were only 20 people tops in the seats on of those only 3 of the groupings actually had children in attendance with them. It was HEAVILY advertised on all of the kid networks here in the US so I’m surprised it didn’t do better with it’s target demographic.
    I did think that some of the accents were a bit thick and heavy for some of the characters so I actually missed some of the dialogue in a few spots due to poor sound mixing/editing and audio confusion.

  • http://tresportfolio.tumblr.com/ Tres Swygert

    Congrats on Laika’s highest box office debut, surpassing their previous films!

    It did have challenges this weekend with the Equalizer, as a reason for why The BoxTrolls couldn’t come in the no. 1 spot. I also believe a reason Laika has yet to really attract more audiences is their content/themes for their films. All their films have some sort of creepiness or monster like elements with their films. I continue to think and wonder why does Laika go that route, and not try to do other kinds of themes and storytelling. A variety would be nice, it could attract more audiences that way.

    While this weekend turned out well as a debut, I think the next few weeks will be more challenging. David Fincher’s Gone Girl is coming this weekend, and those who haven’t seen The Equalizer will now try to see it after many people have claimed that they enjoyed the film. I haven’t heard too much noise for The BoxTrolls, and that’s not good if word of mouth is not present. Especially for an animated film.

    • brandon

      One of LAIKA’s upcoming projects is an adaptation of Wildwood, a children’s fantasy novel by Colin Meloy, lead singer for The Decemberists.
      It’s about two seventh-graders who go on a journey through a magical forest to rescue a baby kidnapped by crows.

      It’s definitely something that, if it gets made, will diverge from LAIKA’s typical horror-leanings. More informed by classic fantasy stories and the local color and nature of it’s Portland, Oregon setting than the filsm of Tim Burton.

      • Anonymator

        Are you joking? This sounds like the usual, dark, creepy stop motion feature storyline to me. Kidnapped by crows? Come on.

        • brandon

          Trust me, it’s miles away from that.

          Check out the novel’s rather whimsical cover art:

          Also, the whole ‘kidnapped by crows’ thing derives more from Irish folktales than anything horror-based.

        • brandon

          Trust me, it’s not. Check out it’s whimsical cover art: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/92/Wildwood_by_Colin_Meloy_cover.jpg

          Also, the whole ‘kidnapped by crows’ thing is more derived from Irish folklore than anything horror-based.

          • brandon

            That’s actually me that replied, by the way. It just says ‘guest’ because of some weird mix up with the commenting.

          • Anonymator

            I love stop motion – love LAIKA – But I can almost guarantee that the film is going to have that “dark” look that almost all American stopmo features have. Let’s see something the OPPOSITE of that look, not it’s sister. Yeh know?

        • Matthew Garcia

          Isn’t that just the usual fairy tale setup though?

          • brandon

            Indeed it is. But the way it’s executed is quite unique. Cutlasses and flintlocks are about as common a weapon as semi-automatic pistols and shotguns. Wagons, carts, and rickshaws coexist with bicycles, trucks and trains.

            It’s pretty surreal stuff. And it all takes place in a version of Portland that’s contemporary but more or less timeless.

          • Matthew Garcia

            I meant the crow thing being horror-themed.

            I’ve read the first “Wildwood” book. It’s charming. I liked the illustrations above all.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/JourneyTraveler NoahClue

    The premise, on paper, doesn’t quite lend itself a must-see image. Aside from the “OMG Laika is making another movie” appeal, there’s not really a hook like Coraline or Paranorman had in its advertising. Makes the lukewarm turnout unfortunate but not that surprising.

    Now to see how it fares against the year’s other big Halloween centric animated film: The Book of Life.

    • No Contest

      Laika >>>>>>>>>> RFX

  • Dawn Brown

    Amid, what was the production budget for Boxtrolls? Thanks.

    • AmidAmidi

      Haven’t seen an accurate figure yet.The last few Laika films were in the $60 million range, so we could reasonably assume that this film is also in the $60-70 million range.

    • brandon

      It’s definitely $60 million. At least that’s whats been widely reported.

  • Tom

    This was a great movie. Start to finish, this is what animated movies should be. Congratulations, Laika!

  • http://tresportfolio.tumblr.com/ Tres Swygert

    Interesting points you provided Bob. I think to debate your point of Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim Burton had a stronger name for his project (reason #1) and that it was a brand new experience for audiences during that time, as it was the first full-length stop motion animated film to be shown in history (reason #2). In going back to reason #1, Tim Burton is all about creepiness that has been expected from audiences from his previous ventures in film.

    I can understand your point about the marketing, they fully didn’t share what was at stake with the story unlike their previous ones. That could really hurt them down the stretch, I hope it doesn’t though.

    • bob

      i agree with your points, however I still maintain that a creepy/ silly aesthetic is not the main deterring factor in a movie like this.

    • AgentIrons

      You’re almost right about reason #2, if we’re only talking about US releases: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Mark_Twain_(1985_film)

      I was actually kind of surprised there weren’t more when I went to check whether Nightmare was first.

      • Bob Bomm

        What about Mad Monster Party (1967), I Go Pogo (1980) and Willie McBean and His Magic Machine (1965)? All three were in theaters, though maybe not in wide release.

  • Mister Twister

    No doubt thanks to the reputation the company built with Coraline and Paranorman. Past success can go a long way.

  • http://the-animatorium.blogspot.com/ Natalie Belton

    Of course, Nightmare Before Christmas wasn’t a big smash hit when it first came out because it was very unorthodox at the time for an American animated feature. The critics loved it then, but it has only been within the past ten years or so that its popularity has really taken off and the wider public has come to appreciate it (which is probably in no small part due to all of the merchandising it receives from Disney and Hot Topic).

    • bob

      yes, but that being said, we are currently in living a time where that creepy look is cool, partly because of the slow burn Nightmare had. This look isn’t only in animated movies, but also live action and games. It’s not a shock to audiences… there is now a market for it.

      I still say that it has more to do with story and marketing than the visual appeal or lack there of.

  • akira

    don forget it kicked Frankenweenie’s butt (11.4 million)! I’m so glad they’re putting out these films even if not pixar perfect. i thought it was a sumptuous piece of filmmaking and i can’t wait to see what’s next from them. (hopefully this was successful enough to continue making these awesome laika films!)

  • jhalpernkitcat

    I think the reason Snatcher was in drag was because even though he got his point across about the “dangerous” box trolls, he needed a softer, more likable image to convey that they were dangerous. Lord Portly Rind seemed to clearly dislike Snatcher despite his business deal with him. On the other hand, everyone seemed to love Madame Frou Frou–especially Lord Portly Rind which may explain why Snatcher had to run around in drag. Either that, or the man secretly likes it–his middle name is Penelope for crying out loud.

    • Taco

      My favorite section was at the end of the first part of the 2D animated credits, where they cut back to the two ex-henchmen (one of them voiced by Nick Frost) talking about life/reality/perception while standing on the street corner sweeping. Then the shot slowly pans out and you can see Travis Knight interposed animating over them, and the commentary that ensues about animation/animators is hilarious. Great little homage to the Stop Motion Animation Process and a great little animation nerd joke akin to that of David O’Reilly on Adventure Time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=sCfzml5D8Ys#t=40

    • jmahon

      He dressed up to (quite literally in a few cases) seduce the people of Cheesebridge into believing his fabricated tale about evil child-eating boxtrolls, and to get close enough to the mayor as he could in terms of status and influence, which was his end-goal anyway. Nobody hated Madame Frou Frou, she was a beloved figure and her performances coupled with Snatcher’s ‘benevolent’ warnings convinced them all the boxtrolls were evil much more effectively than any other way. He said it himself, he did what he felt had to do.

      There’s been a lot of controversy about it, but I find it interesting that despite that… he never fit in better or was as ‘normal’, so to speak, than when he was Madame Frou Frou- he was accepted unconditionally and listened to far more than as Snatcher, wasn’t he? Even Winnie wasn’t turned off by the Frou Frou character, she was enthralled by it.

      Call it wishful thinking but part of me was hoping by the end he’d just resign to being Madame Frou Frou instead of Snatcher to complete the whole thematic lesson of “you must become who you want to be, that’s who you truly are- who you choose!” that was recurrent throughout the movie…. but I guess that’s a few decades away.

      • Fried

        If they had done that, him being in drag would have been a great plot point. But I agree as it is now, it’s just sort of there. It happened, then it stopped happening. He could have been in disguise as anyone (Not just a woman) and started life anew.

        Hell, he could have knocked out one of the old White Hats and dressed up as them and taken their place, I’m sure the citizens of Cheesebridge would have been dumb enough to fall for that.

        I would have loved if he stayed as Madame Frou Frou.

      • Dusty Ayres

        His use of Madame Frou Frou was as a cover for his being a bad guy hunting the Boxtrolls anyway; I don’t think that he was going to stay as her when he was going to try and be a White Hat.

    • Snatcher

      Regarding Madam Frou Frou: The entire movie was about identity — how what you wear doesn’t have to determine who you really are inside. That should be obvious with hat colors and labeled boxes that literally identified all the characters in the movie. I thought it was a very smart (and daring) choice to have Snatcher dress like a woman in order to infiltrate the upper class. It showed his fatal flaw as a villain — that he was unable to shed his clothing identifiers and be himself… While our heroes Eggs and the Boxtrolls DID change (they took off their boxes). Eggs changed the world by choosing to be himself, while Snatcher tried to destroy it by choosing to be someone else.

      Pretty progressive stuff for a kid’s movie! I think it’s sad and ironic that the transgender community can’t see the message that was intended. I understand the knee-jerk reaction at first blush (no pun intended), but the overall themes clearly show the Laika folks were trying to tell a positive message.

      Anyway. I loved it.

      • AgentIrons

        Thank you for putting into words what I was trying to formulate in my head! I had a hard time trying to explain this take on it when I read a very upset post calling the whole movie transmisogynist.

  • akira

    on boxofficemojo the budget is listed as 60million and 18 million already made overseas… i’d love to know the advertising budget! i don’t really think it’s that fair to compare attendance levels as general movie theatre attendance is way down due to higher ticket prices and relatively short wait to buy/rent/stream the movie at a much cheaper price than taking out the familiy on the opening weekend. i’d see this one as a successful endorsement of integrity and originality in animated filmmaking!

  • http://www.hiddenchaos.com Matt_Bacon

    Terrible release dates are a myth. If you have a great film with wonderful word of mouth, you can make money.

    • Barrett

      So that’s why Hollywood studios spend so much effort and time carefully strategizing when to release films, when other studios are releasing certain kinds of films, and playing a long-form chess game in response to those release dates.