‘Muppets’ Stumble in the US, ‘Rio 2′ Is #1 in Russia

No new animated movies debuted in the United States this weekend, although Disney’s family-oriented Muppets Most Wanted opened. The film opened in second place with a disappointing $16.5 million (estimated), far below the $29.2M opening of the franchise reboot The Muppets in 2011. That earlier film plummeted at the box office, too, after its opening, suggesting that the Muppets franchise isn’t as relevant to kids today as it was with earlier generations.

Here are the results of animated films at the domestic box office:
#3: Mr. Peabody & Sherman ($11.7M weekend/$81M total)
#9: The Lego Movie ($4.1M weekend/$243.4M total)
#13: Frozen ($734K weekend/$397.7M total)

Internationally, Rio 2 opened in a handful of foreign territories, earning $10.4M. The most significant portion came from Russia, where it was the number one film with $9.8M, a slight improvement on the original Rio’s $9.3M opening in Russia.

Frozen added an extra $9M overseas, mostly from Japan, and upped its global total to $1.049 billion. The film, which is currently ranked 12th on the all-time list of highest-grossing films, needs to reach $1.063 billion to overtake Toy Story 3 as the highest-grossing animated feature ever released.


  • IJK

    Remember when people thought Frozen was going to tank?

    Ho hooooo….

    • James Stanley

      Yeah, but frozen was computer generated. That seems to be the go to format for box-office kingship these days. Not to mention Frozen didn’t have YA newborn gnawing at it’s probably frosty feet

    • James Stanley

      Yeah, but frozen was computer generated. That seems to be the go to format for box-office kingship these days. Not to mention Frozen didn’t have YA newborn gnawing at it’s probably frosty feet

  • Max C.

    I blame Disney for releasing it on the same day as Divergent. Disney really needs to stop releasing their films so close to teenybopper bound-to-be hits. It’s as if they want their own non-Marvel films to fail.

    • Der Langhaarige

      In all fairness, most YA movies these days tank hard at the box office, unless they are named “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games”. Disney probably felt a little bit too safe, but I can’t blame them.

  • Marbles471

    I wish people would stop mentioning Muppet movies in the same context as kids’ movies. Henson created The Muppet Show precisely because he was determined to not be pigeonholed as a children’s entertainer. He had no problem being a FAMILY entertainer, but not a children’s entertainer. It’s frustrating to keep reading statements linking the Muppets to how they may or may not be “relevant” to “today’s kids.”

    • AmidAmidi

      The Muppets today are a children’s entertainment brand managed by the Disney Company. And Jim Henson has been dead for 24 years. They are Jim’s characters in name only, bearing little resemblance to his conception of or vision for the characters.

      • James Stanley

        But at least their personality are generally intact.

      • James Stanley

        But at least their personality are generally intact.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        For some of us, I guess it’s hard to get over that fact.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        For some of us, I guess it’s hard to get over that fact.

      • Joost B

        Amid, could you elaborate on how the characters differ from Jim’s vision now? If you had made this statement 10 years ago I would have agreed with you, but in the past few years we’ve seen some great new content, bringing back the typical irreverent Muppet humor (and even long lost characters such as Rowlf, Scooter and Dr. Teeth). True, there have been some recasts, which means that some voices have slightly changed, but the personalities have remained largely the same. And -just as in the past- there are several jokes aimed at adults. Both Muppets 2011 and this Muppets Most Wanted are rated PG, so I would not call it a children’s brand per se.

        • Rodan Thompson

          Perhaps a good comparison to Jim’s vision of The Muppets is the multilayered adult humor infused into the Schreck films. This is very close to the structure of the original muppets characters. This is why those films took off so well.

      • Marbles471

        That’s too one-sided an assessment, Amid. And it rather does a disservice to the puppeteers who are, after all, a largely second-generation bunch directly mentored by the likes of Nelson, Hunt, Oz and Henson himself, as well as mid-wave people like Kevin Clash and Steve Whitmire. The continuity is largely intact, at least up to this point.

        The fact remains that Henson never conceived this bunch of characters as “children’s entertainment” and in fact created them in the first place precisely because he was afraid the fame of Sesame Sesame (multilayered though the humor was), had derailed his previously growing reputation as a prime-time and late night dispenser of surreal comedic philosophy. So it’s frustrating to read casual assessments of The Muppets, as a franchise, being children’s entertainment, especially when the critic knows better.

      • Rover

        Watch The Great Muppet Caper (which was directed by Jim Henson) than watch The Muppets. The differences between then and now are very small.

    • Rodan Thompson

      100% true… For me…I don’t know if this is true at all, but, when they alienated Frank Oz from the creative process… it lost it’s survivable soul.

      This is just how I feel about The Muppets. “You can never go back to Manderly again…”

  • kidglov3s

    I really hope that the Muppets tanking is the public voting with their dollars. Maybe it’s just me but I thought that movie looked excruciating. I like the Muppets but the long trailer I saw was bad joke after bad joke, just not fun at all.

    • Matthew Broussard

      Sounds like a Ricky Gervais movie to me (or like Ricky Gervais).

    • Matthew Broussard

      Sounds like a Ricky Gervais movie to me (or like Ricky Gervais).

  • Mister Twister

    … go… Russia, I… guess?

    I’ll see it in two weeks.

  • Brad Schreiber

    I love the Muppets, ever since a small child. Loved the resurgence 2 years ago and was disappointed when I saw the sequel involved a Russian plot and an “Evil Twin”. Even the name “Constantine” made me cringe. BUT, I went to see the movie to support the Muppets. And I was delighted with most the movie. A lot of the old timing was there, the big production numbers, the inside jokes were all in tact. The trailer campaign was hilarious with all the fake social media references. But I think it will take the real fans to bring this to light. Kids dont understand Russian accents let alone find them funny. Neither do adults. My fear is if this does not do well, we wont see another Muppet movie. And that would be a tragedy.

  • Jamie Iles

    I only became aware of ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ yesterday. The film hasn’t seemed to have gained much publicity at least here in the UK leading up to its release on the 28th March. Or I haven’t seen much in the way of posters, trailers or any sort of promotion that I can remember?

  • James Stanley

    “Not relevant to today’s kiddywinks?” This guy clearly missed the fact that the 2011 Muppets was the first of their films to gross over a 100 million dollars. The only problem here is where Disney decided to put them.

  • James Stanley

    “Not relevant to today’s kiddywinks?” This guy clearly missed the fact that the 2011 Muppets was the first of their films to gross over a 100 million dollars. The only problem here is where Disney decided to put them.

  • James Stanley

    Btw what’s Divergent like? At this time I’m not that impressed with it, I mean hasn’t Hollywood got anything better to do than churn out YA bullcrap that’s pretty much the same as what has been done by superior and more interesting ones? I thus await the day Captain America pummels this at the box-office 2 weeks later.

    • Animator606432

      Well, can’t really blame them. I mean, making the Twilight movies might as well be printing out money. And with Catching Fire (which is superior in everyway to both of these movies) making a KILLING at the box office…why shouldn’t they?
      Granted these films don’t always work that way. For every Hunger Games there is a Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. For every Twilight there is a Percy Jackson. But when they do, it’s like hitting oil. They are cheap to make and because they are dealing with adolescents (mostly girls) they don’t really care about quality. It’s the same thing as the Transformers movie expect that’s with adolescents boys. It’s horrible film making, but they run to see these things.
      And i’m actually a HUGE fan of YA books but not garbage like Twilight or Divergent.

  • Joost B

    Hopefully Disney will not sell back the franchise; the Henson family first made the mistake of selling to EMTV, afterwards bought the Muppets back and still did nothing with them. That is the main reason that a relaunch was necessary in 2011. There is one way to keep the Muppets fresh and popular: make sure that they are seen!

  • Roberto Gonzalez

    I haven’t watched Muppets Most Wanted yet cause it has yet to be released in Spain but it looks pretty good to me and I find the comments kinda contradictory. Setting the movie in a russian gulag and including silly accents to me sons like being goofy, fun and anarchic. The kind of thing Marx Brothers or Monty Python would do. It’s not your standard Family film schmaltzy set up. Its not the most politically correct, childish setting to use. And having Gervais and Tina Fey in it sounds like they are aiming them to adults. So if the original Jim Henson vision was that they werent only for kids I think this concept is ok by those standards. The movie can be good or bad but I don’t get those criticisms at all. If you want it to be anarchic and a bit adult oriented its not bad if children don’t get some of the jokes. Also it makes children think and learn things.

    I may be biased cause I liked all the trailers so far and I quite like Gervais. I liked the previous Muppets movie but this one looks funnier and more subversive. Maybe the first one had charm but it got a little too depressive and melancholic after a while. Though, to be true, the original 1979 Muppets Movie had its good share of depressive moments as well.

  • Marbles471

    I haven’t seen it, but doesn’t this plot get into somewhat similar territory as Great Muppet Caper? In terms of getting involved with gun-toting criminals, I mean.

    • otterhead

      Not really, to be honest. In a nutshell, the world’s greatest criminal (who looks just like Kermit, with a mole) switches places with Kermit, who gets sent to a Russian Gulag. The fake Kermit and his henchman, Ricky Gervais, take the Muppets on a fake world tour so they can steal various items around Europe. Most of the movie either follows Kermit in the gulag or the Muppets as they put on terrible shows (without Kermit to guide them, who they don’t notice has been replaced by a ridiculously fake Kermit). So, yes, it’s got the same ‘wacky sendup of jewel heist movie’ theme going on, but it’s more of a tour movie with tons of celebrities doing silly accents.

  • Revolver

    Wow, the criticism here about the Muppet movie release schedule are truly funny. It’s like “Oh my god, how dare Disney think the Muppets can actually compete with anything. Disney should have released it when there were, uh, well, maybe no other movies out there…or something.”

    Get real. The Muppets are quite old and quite irrelevant. The kids don’t much like them. The adults got their nostalgia fix with the last one. End of story.

    Oh, and in a digital age, THEY’RE PUPPETS!

    • otterhead

      Given how well the last movie did, and the sheer amount of Muppet stuff I see in “cool stores” in the mall, and how many preteens I see with Muppet swag every single day… I’d say you’re extremely wrong.

    • Animator606432

      Yeah I gotta disagree. If the first movie bombed that maybe your theory would hold some weight…but it didn’t. It made a huge profit and all of that couldn’t be based on pure nostalgia. Plus, plenty of kids know about Miss Piggy, Kermit, and Fozzie Bear. They should have done what they did for the first one and release it during Thanksgiving.

      • Revolver

        The first one didn’t make a “huge profit”. It cost 45 million to make, NOT COUNTING promotion, which probably doubles that cost. Since a movie has to make 3 times its overall costs just to break even, and Muppets made only 165 million worldwide…it made chicken scratch, if anything.

        Likely story is – critics and showbiz folks made such a fuss over the first one (the song won an Oscar, for some reason) that Disney decided to give the franchise another go. Unfortunately as of this writing, it didn’t go. It stopped dead, and odds are, it won’t go much further.

        Preteens wear Muppet “swag”? What high school do you go to, Marty McFly’s? :D

        So what you two dudes are saying is that Muppet movies CAN compete UNLESS they’re up against anything else that’s family-oriented, even a relative underachiever like Peabody that’s already been out two weeks, or Lego, that’s been out since February, and Frozen, last Thanksgiving. Gotcha.

        • Animator606432

          First off, i’m not a “dude”. Second off, if you are replying to my comment, REPLY TO MY COMMENT. Don’t bring up what another person says when it doesn’t apply to me.

          This film was the HIGHEST GROSSING MOVIE OF THE ENTIRE FRANCHISE. You can’t argue down the firsts one success. The reason Disney gave it a sequel is because it made a HUGE profit. It’s really that simple. Also, in order for a film to make money it simply has to make twice it’s budget world wide.

          Also, Muppets: Most Wanted is number 2 at the box office while Mr. Peabody is number 3. What we are saying is that pinning it against a huge franchise like Divergent wasn’t a good marketing decision.

          • Revolver

            The Muppets did NOT make a HUGE profit. The budget number you’re thinking of doesn’t include promotion and print ads, which are very expensive. And FYI, the franchise, from the get-go, has been a merchandising disappointment. I have facts and figures behind my statement. You just have fan girl wishful thinking.

            Oh, and the HIGHEST GROSSING MOVIE OF THE ENTIRE FRANCHISE? Gee, isn’t it a matter of record that the franchise has never been a great moneymaker at the box office? Why yes, that’s true. The first film in 1979 did make money. The second flopped. The ones following took in mediocre numbers at best, and then came “Muppets From Space”, a BIG flop.

            Disney released MWW during spring break, a great time to release family films. It didn’t release it “against” Divergent. It released a family film to provide an alternative to a young adult film (the prospects of which were unknown, by the way, since several other YA films of late have flopped). It’s called counter-programming. Happens all the time. Didn’t work for Muppets Most Wanted. Why? Not enough people were interested, and that would likely have been the case no matter when the film was released. Them’s the breaks.

          • Animator606432

            Again, you are trying to argue there isn’t a market interest for the Muppets when there obviously is. It’s not, “Counter-programming” if BOTH films are by the same company and targeted similar audiences. Now, if this were next weekend when “Captain America” and Noah (or tidal is what I think it’s called now) then sure. It’s what “Peabody and Sherman” did against “300″. Honey, I know what counter-programming is.
            Bringing up the fact that the other movies “flopped” yet the 2011 revival did so well just makes our points even more relevant.

            Your whole “merchandise” argument is so stupid that I’m not going to bother telling why it’s wrong. If you can’t figure that out on your own that I can’t help you.

            I’m a fan-girl now? That’s a huge assumption for a person who doesn’t even know me. You don’t even know my gender. I’ve only ever seen one muppet movie, the original, and enjoyed it. It’s called being objective about things, maybe you should learn that word. Since you’ve decided to make assumptions about me, I’ll do the same for you. You seem to have this unnatural distaste for the Muppets which just comes off as really stupid. I mean, why bother arguing something that you don’t even seem to care about?

            Also, if your gonna troll, try to at least be a little funny about it. Take it from someone who used to frequent 4chan during their high school days.

        • OddOneOut

          Even if the 2011 film didn’t break even at the box office, the merchandise the Muppets film generated probably made up for it and then some (even in today’s day and age I still see both kids and some young adults with Muppet-related stuff) which, combined with the positive feedback from critics and audiences, would have warranted a sequel.

          I don’t think the film’s main characters being mostly puppets did anything to deter people, considering the first one did well with audiences and critics. As for why the recent one isn’t doing as well so far (it’s only at the beginning of it’s run after all so things can still change) it might have to do with it’s awkward theatrical timing (being released the same time as “Divergent”) and the new film’s premise (compared to the old one) potentially turning some people away.

          Of course, it’s still a little early to say anything and the Muppets Most Wanted could go either way. I wouldn’t say they’re irrelevant by any means, just the path Disney took with the new Muppet film might not have been the best way to capitalize on the previous film’s success.

    • Marbles471

      What makes something “irrelevant,” exactly?

      If that’s your opinion, okay, but unless you feel the same way about, say, the Warner Bros. characters, deeming the Muppets irrelevant comes off as rather arbitrary.

  • DrTeeth

    Since Gervais is constantly railing against Christians on YouTube, Twitter, and TV, is it possible that they perhaps alienated a large portion of their potential audience in America? Someone a tad bit less vitriolic like Andy Samberg or Jimmy Fallon would have been nice.

    • otterhead

      I’m not gonna discount this as a factor, honestly. Not his religious commentary, but his hammy, ingratiating, intentionally-irritating comic persona that some people love and some detest. It’s hard not to love Amy Adams, but it’s hard to love Ricky Gervais. The ironic thing is that he’s essentially the boring straight man in the movie — the only human not doing a ridiculous accent and mugging for the camera.

  • whoiseyevan

    I felt that the marketing for MMW attempted to make the film edgy and appeal to a younger market that may not really care for these characters. Even the title of the film, “Muppets Most Wanted,” did not evoke the same charm as the successful films in this franchise. I think that because there was a disjoint in what the Muppets traditionally represent and the way the film was sold (in posters, trailers, etc), it actually made the campaign seem a little bland, generic and un-Muppety. What really worked about the marketing for the last movie, was that it was built heavily around nostalgia. It had a clearer sense of audience demographic and it felt like it tapped into a deeper understanding and appreciation for these characters.

  • Revolver

    Ha ha! So even though I gave facts and quoted Robert Iger himself, you’re sticking to your story?
    ‘Kay. Look. you’re deluded, but you also sound like you’re very young and NOT in the movie business.
    It’s okay.

    • Animator606432

      “Look. you’re deluded, but you also sound like you’re very young and NOT in the movie business.”

      Says the guy who doesn’t understand that a movie that makes twice it’s budget is a success.

      • AmidAmidi

        We’re shutting down comments on this exchange since all parties have started personal insults. In the future, please discuss issues in a mature manner instead of resorting to ad hominem attacks.

        • Animator606432

          That’s just ridiculous. “All parties” were not throwing personal insults against each other. One user was obviously insulting people, while the responders were behaving maturely. Honestly, show me one exchange from anyway besides the obvious that were throwing “personal insults”.

      • Revolver

        It has to make three times its budget to make a profit. Which “The Muppets” didn’t. So no HUUUUGGEEE profit for Muppets. Got it now?

  • Revolver

    Amid is correct that 2011′s “The Muppets” plummeted after its first weekend, indicating that there is not much of an audience for the puppets outside of their (as shown on this comment board) obsessed core fan group. Here is a very interesting blurb that illustrates how a movie has to make a great deal more than its budget in order to turn even a tiny profit:

    “Here’s a hypothetical example of how this could work in practice, using round numbers just to make the point (these aren’t directly accurate numbers, but the concept is). A studio funds A Movie with a production budget of $100 million. It sets up AMovieCo Inc. and gives it the production budget money. The studio then spends another $50 million on marketing and puts that down as an expense as well — though, with some of the big studios, some of this money involves paying itself for advertising on its own properties. Still, even if we assume that’s real money spent, you might think that AMovieCo now needs to make back $150 million to be profitable. But… the studio (which, again, controls AMovieCo completely) then tacks onto all of that, say, a $250 million “distribution fee.” Now, while there may be some money spent on actually distributing the film, the number is almost completely bogus, and much higher than the actual expense for the studio. Very little actual money needs to change hands here — it’s just a fee on the books (a fee they are effectively charging to themselves). And it’s not just “distribution” but a variety of additional charges. On top of that, the studio may then charge “interest” on that money, even though it’s really just lending money to itself. What it all means is that rather than becoming profitable at ~$150 million (the actual money spent), AMovieCo now needs to earn over $400 million before anyone with a cut of the profits sees an additional dime from the movie, thanks to completely imaginary accounting entries on the books.”

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121018/01054720744/hollywood-accounting-how-19-million-movie-makes-150-million-still-isnt-profitable.shtml

    So not only is “Muppets Most Wanted” a flop, there was no HUGE profit from “The Muppets” either. That’s Hollywood accounting for you.

  • daniel thomas

    I wish this movie was fun, goofy and anarchic. It was dreadfully formulaic, predictable, and reliant on tired plot cliches. There are some funny moments, and it might prove popular with kids on home video, but in the end, I couldn’t accept its worn “evil twin” premise.

    And, since we’re on a tear….WHAT is the deal with Disney’s habit of burying properties they don’t own? The whole bit about Kermit “marrying” Miss Piggy was painfully off – they were married 30 years ago, in “Muppets Take Manhattan.” Ah, but Disney doesn’t hold the rights to that film; it was held by TriStar. And thus the Disney Corporation simply erases its existence, like one of Joe Stalin’s unfortunate enemies.

    I spied a similar bit of Orwellian censorship on a “making of” extra on Studio Ghibli’s Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind DVD, where clips from Miyazaki movies not sold by Disney were cut or blurred out, and clueless actors speak about working on “Miyazaki’s first film.” I was only aware of the edit because I had bought the Japanese DVD years ago. And now Disney has done it again! How strange.

    Now here’s where it really gets weird. Muppets Most Wanted decides to redo the marriage thing, consciously ignoring Manhattan. But then they steal Manhattan’s jokes, and even one of its songs! What is the deal with THAT???

    I will say that I enjoyed Most Wanted more than the last Muppets picture, if only because this one actually has Muppets in it. But it’s still not much better than average, and nowhere near the level of the Jim Henson classics. I miss Henson’s gentleness, his peaceful nature. I miss the days when a handful of conglomerates didn’t own literally everything. But I’m getting older, and nostalgia becomes a medical condition at my age. So perhaps it’s only me.

    • otterhead

      I’m not really sure what you mean by “this one actually has Muppets in it,” considering that the last movie was wall-to-wall Muppets in virtually every scene. Do you mean that it focused too much on Walter and not enough on the ‘classic Muppets’?

    • Andrew

      Not to go all Muppet nerd on you, but they’ve addressed this with the characters. That wedding in MTM was part of the show they were putting on, not a real wedding.

      Or, at least, not as real as wedding between a fictional pig and from made from fleece and foam latex could be.

  • igger6

    As an old-time Muppets fan who thinks their primary problem is an inability to find the 21st-century Jerry Juhl, I was dreading MUPPETS MOST WANTED based on the trailers. But I saw the film this week and loved it. Unlike the 2011 film—which traded heavily on nostalgia and schmaltz, to the detriment of most of its scenes, and whose laughs were often forced or awkward—MUPPETS MOST WANTED was light, inventive, and above all, fun. If there’s one thing I associate with the “spirit” of the Henson Muppets, it’s that Marx Brothers zaniness, the idea that ultimately this is all about entertainment rather than emotional truth or serious statements. That’s what I felt was missing in THE MUPPETS (that and a healthy dose of wordplay, which they’re also beginning to rediscover here), and that’s what feels like it’s finally coming back. In short, the new Muppet crew seems like it’s hitting its stride with this film. I was genuinely surprised, and I genuinely hope they get another chance.

    Ushering a particular stable of characters past their founding generation while maintaining them as a potent and active force is a rare challenge with few previous analogues. (The Looney Tunes have largely relied on recycled material and commercials, with two obvious cinematic exceptions and a subpar TV show or two. The Disney headliners have basically retreated into preschool programming and occasional short-subject stunts. Other examples like Garfield, the Chipmunks, or the Smurfs are more precisely being reimagined for other media, not relaunched them in the same medium they occupied the first time around.) It may be that it’s impossible to give an ensemble like the Muppets two generations of satisfying life, but this film comes closer than I thought was possible at this point. I didn’t even find myself nitpicking the quality of the voices.

    • Funkybat

      I agree that the actual movie was more entertaining that the trailer made it look. The trailer was also played too often and for too long. unless it’s a differently edited “teaser trailer” (and the best ones have original, not-in-the-film content) movie trailers really shouldn’t enter heavy rotation more than 2-3 months before release. I get very sick of movies that attach their trailer to every movie for the preceding six months before release. I wasn’t paying close attention to dates and thought this movie was going to be a holiday release, since I was seeing the trailer a lot back in October and November. It’s almost April!

      Anyway, I’m glad the film was better than the over-run trailer, but I do worry that the trailer itself and the lack of much other advertising may have been responsible for these box office numbers. Disney should do more fun You Tube-centric stuff like the Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody or the Cookie Monster parody/tribute of “Call me Maybe.” If the Muppets have 2 or three entertaining viral vids a year, they will stay on the minds of people more and not seem dated (even though I personally don’t see them as dated, some others clearly do.)

  • lanmanna

    So the Muppets 2011 movie means nothing?