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.