“Free Birds” Debuts with $15.8 Million

Free Birds, the first animated feature from Reel FX, debuted in fourth place with a final total of $15.8 million at U.S. theaters. Distributor Relativity Media had projected between $16-19M, though some market projections had it breaking the $20M+ mark.

Relevant “comps”—comparable films produced by independent animation studios and released by second-tier distributors—would be Laika’s Coraline and ParaNorman and Rainmaker’s Escape from Planet Earth. (Despicable Me doesn’t fit the category because it had a major distributor, Universal.) Laika’s Coraline opened with $16.8M, had great legs, and went on to gross $75.2M. ParaNorman launched with $14.1M and ended with $56M. Escape from Planet Earth opened earlier this year with $15.9M and took in $57M throughout its domestic run. The box office range is fairly well defined for these type of films and Free Birds falls within it.

Free Birds had a relatively modest budget of $55M and should have no trouble recouping its costs, which were shared by Reel FX and Relativity. According to Relativity, they have sold overseas distribution rights to more than 100 foreign territories, and those presales have covered nearly 70% of the movie’s production costs. For foreign audiences who aren’t familiar with Thanksgiving, the characters will instead attend an imaginary event called “The Big Feast.”


  • Scott550

    Paranorman it ain’t. More like Quest for Camelot!!!

  • aa

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  • Alex Dudley

    “The Big Feast”, huh?
    I wondered what they were going to call it. Foreign audiences wouldn’t get this movie at all.
    But it’s nice to know that this movie will supposedly earn its money back. I never even considered presales would cover the production cost (I like learning these things!).
    Looking forward to Book of Life, it sounds like it’ll be a better movie!

  • coolideg

    I don’t really understand downplaying Thanksgiving in other markets. I’d see a movie about Chinese New Year, but I don’t celebrate it. I don’t know anything about Tet, but I would love to see something with that as its backdrop. It seems distributors are way more concerned with what can homogenize a film and make it seem as generic as possible, rather than prop up what makes it unique.

    • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com ElliotCowan

      Chinese New Year is celebrated all over the world.
      Thanksgiving is not.

    • SarahJesness

      I imagine that Thanksgiving isn’t very well-known in other countries, whereas Chinese New Year is.

  • George Comerci

    Well, I’m sure it will have a successful run in the Box Office. Myself, I’m on the fence with this one. Looks cute, and I’m sure I’ll see it. But it’s nice to see smaller films doing well. :D

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

    The question everyone is asking: Overseas will this be a box-office turkey?