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Box Office Report

‘The Nut Job 2’ Records Worst All-Time Opening For A Film In 4,000+ Theaters

It was clear from the trailers that The Nut Job 2 was aimed at very young children, and the problem with aiming a film strictly at six-year-olds is that they can’t drive themselves to the movie theater.

The result: the worst opening in film history for a movie released in 4000-plus theaters, with an estimated weekend launch of $8.9 million. There’s nothing even remotely close on the record books for an opening this pathetic. The previous lowest-grossing launch in over 4,000 theaters was none other than Sony’s The Emoji Movie, and that film opened with over $15 million more than Nut Job 2.

So the big question: why was a film with such a clearly limited (and car-less) audience released in over 4,000 theaters to begin with? First, it was opportune timing: Hollywood has faltered every step of the way this year, creating few summer blockbusters that audiences want to see, leaving plenty of empty movie screens.

Second, until last week, the film’s distributor, Open Road Films, was a 50-50 venture between America’s two largest theatrical exhibitors, Regal Entertainment and Chinese-owned AMC Theatres. In other words, if there’s any distributor that has access to screens, it’s Open Road. (Last week, a Chinese company Tang Media Partners purchased Open Road, though the new owners plan to continue working closely with Regal and AMC.)

Open Road was hoping for something closer to the original Nut Job, which launched with a confounding $19.4 million in January 2014, on its way to $64.3M domestic, becoming the highest-grossing independently-distributed cg feature in U.S. history.

The original had a multiplier of 3.0x; if the sequel is lucky enough to have even that, it’ll end up with around $27 million, which would still be a big disappointment for its makers: Korean studio Redrover Co. Ltd, Canadian’s Toonbox Entertainment, China’s Shanghai Hoongman Technology Co., and Gulfstream Pictures.

Open Road thought they had a hit, too. Variety reported that the distributor has spent around $20 million on tv spots. Deadline has a more detailed rundown of the film’s marketing campaign, which targeted Hispanic families, and included partnerships and integrations with Nick.com and the Angry Birds mobile game.

But families couldn’t be bothered to see the film, most likely because adults weren’t convinced that they could enjoy the film with their kids. American animation producers have learned this lesson well, and in recent years, they’ve stopped producing strictly “kids’ films” in favor of “family films,” which ostensibly spread out the entertainment to both children and adults.

This the reason why animation producers go out of their way to “age up” children’s films, peppering them with questionable content like urine-gargling, shit gags, and almost F-bombs. They’re desperate to convince adults that the film is for them, too.

Nut Job 2, directed by Cal Brunker (Escape from Planet Earth), had none of those elements. It wore its kiddie badge on its sleeve, and adults kept a safe distance.

Then, let’s not forget The Emoji Movie, now in its third weekend. The film took fifth place with an estimated $6.6M, boosting its overall total to $63.4M. All things considered, the film is showing stronger-than-expected box office legs. Combined with an early foreign box office of $33.6M, the film’s global is $97.2M. Not exactly a hit, but not exactly a flop either.

And then there’s that Illumination juggernaut, Despicable Me 3. The film added $18.1M this weekend from global plays, and its worldwide total has climbed to $920.3M. It is currently the year’s third top-grossing film; animation-wise, it is all but guaranteed to finish the year as the top-grossing animation pic.

  • Tigercat919

    I did not see a single television advertisement for this movie. I didn’t see any online ads either (maybe i was looking in the wrong spots?) nor did I hear any stories on any news shows about the movie. Perhaps the studio was just trying to get it out the door? At least they chose the summer goes to try and get some money.

    • Perhaps you were looking in the right spots, but they possibly didn’t have faith. I saw a LOT of ads for this on T.V. where I live (saw the trailer in almost every family film I’ve seen this year and last). There was even a standee at one of my theaters..

    • Milan P.

      oh dear GOD.
      I saw commercials on every damn commercial break on Nickelodeon (some breaks even playing TWO a time). It did not strengthen my thoughts on what’s very clearly a needless and rushed-into-thinking sequel designed to nab some quick money.

      • Tigercat919

        I wonder if Psy appears in this new one. It made zero sense for him to appear in the first one. Yes, it is a partially Korean production, but the thing is supposed to take place in the 1950s.

    • Jamie Murphy

      Saw pre-rolls for that movie on YouTube.

    • JonathanisPrimus

      “Perhaps the studio was just trying to get it out the door?”

      Nah, that was Spark: A Space Tail. They wanted The Nut Job 2 to do well, but lol.

  • I didn’t realize there was a sequel to this.

  • Youch!!

  • Jordann William Edwards

    People are tired because they need more variety in their movies, especially animated movies. There is a reason why Sausage Party was a hit.

    This, among other things, should be a wake-up call for the industry. Time for us to make the movies we want to make.

    • Tartutic

      If that was true, Kubo And The Two Strings would have been a box office hit. People don’t care about variety or new movies, they want the same garbage over and over again.

      • Netko

        The truth is somewhere in the middle. People don’t want movies that are too different and too creative, but they also don’t want movies that are too plain and too boring. You can have movies that toe the line well, movies like Zootopia and a lot of Pixar movies are massive hits precisely because of that.

  • Andres Molina

    This is what happens when film studios force in nothing but bloated fart fests, which do nothing but water down the animation industry, and produce a sequel nobody asked for. American animation studios as a whole need to start taking risks and produce better films. It can’t be Just Pixar and Disney doing good animation and everyone else produce crap. Everyone needs to join in and make the films they want to make. Not everything has to be comedy based.

    • Isn’t it funny that audiences didn’t seem to have this problem a decade ago when Alex the lion bit Marty the zebra in the butt and it could generate a laugh somewhere?

      • gfkBill

        …or Finding Nemo could have a pelican fart gag.

      • Fried

        Shrek farted, Pumbaa farted, Toy Story 2 had a belching gag, Finding Nemo had a belching-and-eating-your-own-filth gag. About 80% of animated movies from the past 25+ years had a burping, farting, pooping, or butt joke.

        Toilet humor isn’t great, but people who suggest it’s some “recent trend” apparently aren’t aware one of the oldest known jokes is a fart joke.

  • I’m curious, what is your definition of a “kids’ film”? Is the lack of these a symptom for why virtually nothing is rated G anymore by the MPAA? There’s been too many animated films in this decade rated PG when they have no business being rated PG and would have been an easy G if it was the 90s.

  • Thoughts on the rest of the animated films this year:

    Animal Crackers- Looks okay

    Ninjago- Fun but not as good as the other two Lego Movies

    MLP- Even from a non-Brony perspective I hope this turns out to be good. Could be a hit because of its soundtrack.

    The Star- Help me Jesus

    Coco- Feels like one of the weaker Pixar films

    Ferdinand- Generic

    • GOATmaybe

      hey man I’ll have you know Ferdinand is made by Blue Sky Studios. Makers of such films as Ice Age, Rio, and the Dr.Seuss cartoons….So calling this generic feels a little generous imo.

    • Cameron Ward

      shouldn’t be judging films before you see them. though The Star did not give off the best first impression.

    • Inkan1969

      Don’t forget movies like “In This Corner of the World” and “The Bread Winner”, or even “Batman and Harley Quinn” and “Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry”. Funimation, Aniplex, and Fathom are doing improving jobs in making smaller animated movies more prolific in theaters. And “The Girl Without Hands” is out in theaters right now.

      I still want to see how well “Leap” turned out on the big screen. “Coco” looked OK in the trailer: that scene where the characters take the kid to the border official makes me wonder if the movie will have a lot of illegal immigration gags. I wonder if “Ferdinand” might be too stretched out for a feature length film, and I don’t like how the ads focus on the china-shop gag.

      • JonathanisPrimus

        Leap’s a good film. I have no idea why the Weinstein’s have treated it the way they have. It’s already available on home video in Canada (under its original title, Ballerina).

    • HN

      If I have to guess, I think Coco will be one of the more emotional Pixar films, based on the trailer alone. Don’t know how it will turn out but this might just be Pixar’s entry to the 2018 Oscars animated feature film category.

  • Googamp32

    And to think, we’re STILL getting a stage show out of this “franchise”.

  • Bi Pride

    lol no one asked for a sequel that’s why this did so bad

  • Mary

    Ha ha.

  • Satoshi

    Of Course CB has nothing to say about this movie except when is something negative…Did you bother to see it? Some pretty neat moments and great character animation in it. Not Pixar quality but a very decent family film. Animation is not for just for kids…. but it also can be for kids sometimes.

    • Charles Norwood

      Great character animation? It’s WAY over-worked, over-produced, and over-textured for the crisp style of comedy they’re trying (and failing) to produce. It’s a big part of why the humor in these movies just doesn’t land. Which is too bad because the animation looks like it takes a hell of a lot of labor.

  • LarryBundyJr

    I didn’t mind the first movie, even if they had to resort to using Gangham style for the ending. But it was based on a heist, it makes no sense to call or even make a sequel.

    • Andrew Alderson

      Hey Bundy, Nice to see your comment on Cartoon Brew! Sorry that your fact hunt video got plagiarized by WatchMojo.

  • AnimaLion

    Maybe parents are not willing or cannot afford to spend the same amount of money to bring the family to watch a Disney Pixar blockbuster and to watch a less famous ”indie” lower budget movie, especially now that more and more animated movies are being produced. Maybe theatres should lower the price of the tickets of underperforming movies, or of the movies with a weaker franchise. The same way tickets for less famous music bands are cheaper them famous one’s. This would create a lot of opportunities for smaller animation studios to display their movies, hoping they will became successful in the future; and for theaters, I think a cinema filled of half paying audience is better then an empty one. And probably you should wait the info about DVD / streaming sales before declaring a franchise a flop.

    This is a good article regaring this subject:
    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/01/why-do-all-movie-tickets-cost-the-same/250762/

    Then obviously there is the problem of time, if you only have 1 evening free every week to take your family at the theatre unfortunately you have to make a choise.

    And regarding this movie, I think the first one was quite good and enjoyable, the studio has made a good job and I read positive reviews about the sequel too and I think I will watch it too; so I think the quality of the movie itself is not the issue, but more the perceived quality.

  • KW

    Wait a minute, this movie came out this past weekend? Was there no marketing campaign, I knew the movie was happening but I had no clue it was already coming out. Good job, marketing team!

  • Alberto Herrera Jr.

    I perfectly understand why this film did not make more than $20 million at the box office.

    The Emoji Movie came out at the right time, because there was a 4-week gap between Despicable Me 3 and The Emoji Movie, and families really want to take their kids to see a new animated film, regardless if it’s good or bad, so they took their kids to see The Emoji Movie, and they won’t care about the critics or the big controversial tweet related to The Handmaid’s Tale.

    The Nut Job 2 came out at the wrong time, because families already watched The Emoji Movie, and they don’t need to go out of their way to watch another animated film, similar to case with The Boss Baby and Smurfs: The Lost Village. And it doesn’t help that The Nut Job was not well received by audiences and critics when it was released in theaters back in 2014.

    I think that animation fans (including myself) are going to wait for Lego Ninjago to hit theaters.

    • Inkan1969

      I tried to watch the Ninjago series, but I couldn’t stick with it. I just found the characters and the premise too dull.

      • Alberto Herrera Jr.

        To be honest, I actually enjoy the Ninjago series. So far, I have seen the first three seasons. I like the tone of the story, (It balances comedy, drama, fantasy, and action very well IMO) it had good animation quality for a CGI TV series, and I really like the characters, since they have really good development and unique personalities. Some examples include Zane being a robot that was built by his dad, Garmadon being Wu’s brother who turned evil after being bitten by a snake, and Cole’s dad being a singer and dancer. So the show was great in my opinion.

        I might end up liking this film, since it looks very fun and enjoyable like the previous WAG Lego films. I like some of its ridiculous aspects, especially with that giant cat that was awoken, and Lloyd’s arm being ripped off like a real minifigure’s arm. So I will definitely see it when it comes out.

  • Glowworm

    I actually forgot that this movie was coming out last week–most of the trailers I saw for it were at the movie theaters. No wonder it didn’t do very well.

  • Inkan1969

    I’m really surprised at how low the movie boxoffice is. i was expecting at least a $15 Million boxoffice, which is close to what the first movie got.

  • Inkan1969

    Since this is the thread about US boxoffice, I want to raise the issue that GKids is doing a terrible job at marketing its movies.

    Right now, “The Girl Without Hands” is in four new theaters. Its boxoffice: $1233, for a $308 per theater average. I can attest to that: when I went to see the movie, I was one of only three people in the theater. I saw similar attendance for “The Boy and the World” and “My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea”. Some weeks back in that same theater, Funimation’s “Kizumonogatari, Part 3” opened to a packed house, and Aniplex’s “The Irregular at Magic High School” got two thirds. And further, I had a GKids weekend in that I tried to see “Mune: Guardian of the Moon” the day after in my local theater. I even bought a ticket in advance. But when i got to the theater, I found they had cancelled the screening due to lack of interest. I had to rush to another theater, where I had to buy a new ticket and I still missed a third of the film. At least there were people there: maybe five or six…

    I’m not saying that box office is the most important thing about these distributions. I’m very glad that GKids is able to distribute these unique movies. But I can’t believe that numbers this low are unavoidable, especially seeing how well Funimation, Aniplex, and Fathom Events movies do. GKids really needs to rethink its marketing strategy to greatly improve the visibility of these movies.

    • Mary

      If you think about it, the movies GKIDS pick up are like indie films. Good or bad, they’re generally unknown outside of a movie festival. This especially counts with the films they pick up from Europe. GKIDS has the Studio Ghibli catalog but most are just re-releases. The other anime titles they license are, again, unknown in the anime fandom and the animation fandom as a whole. Mary and the Witch’s Flower might be only known title GKIDS got this year even though I think Funimation should’ve got it.

      Also, GKIDS is smaller than Funimation and Aniplex so there’s not much they can do about their marketing. Unless Fathom Events or another bigger company acquires them, GKIDS and every title they pick up will remain in the dark.

  • J

    Friends of mine worked on this movie and I still didn’t want to waste my time seeing it. Got to show producers that audiences are not going to watch crap. Hopefully the film helped some artist’ careers who will go on to better things. Or at least provided a regular paycheck.