Will Anybody See “Escape from Planet Earth” This Weekend?

Today marks the American release of the Weinstein Company’s Escape from Planet Earth, a film that is best known for the nasty legal fight surrounding its production. The film is produced by Canada’s Rainmaker Entertainment and directed by Cal Brunker, heretofore a board artist on features like Horton Hears A Who!, 9, Despicable Me, and Ice Age: Continental Drift.

Most box office projections are estimating around $10 million for the four-day President’s Day holiday weekend. That sounds about right. It’s been poorly promoted for a film that will open wide in nearly 3,300 theaters. Personally, I can’t recall seeing a single ad for the film in New York City, whereas any animated feature opening on so many screens is typically accompanied by subway ad campaigns plastered around the city. Perhaps the Weinstein Company chose to invest the film’s marketing budget on children’s cable stations and elsewhere.


  • DJ

    Didn’t even know this was opening weekend.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Dudley/39610885 Alex Dudley

    Yeah, I’ve seen ads for this on telelvision. This reminds me too much of Planet 51 to give it a chance.

    • Mark Williams

      Alex, have you changed your mind and decided to check out “Escape” after all?

  • http://www.maryctaylor.com/ Mary C. Taylor

    Traditionally, isn’t January/February when the studios release movies that they don’t think will do too well in theaters anyway? So I don’t think studios do too much marketing for those films. My bet is they are saving they’re marketing dollars for dvd/cable release.

  • Skip

    I should be able to rent it for a dollar from Redbox in about four months, I will wait till than.

    • or maybe

      Going to see movies in a theater should be a purposeful habit of people who want to make them themselves.

  • Galea

    I’m going to see it!

  • RickyB

    Is this the new version of a “talkback” article?

    • AmidAmidi

      There’ll still be talkbacks, but in the case of this film, I don’t think a lot of people were even aware that it existed.

      • Mark Williams

        Amid, what’s a “talk-back” article?

        • AmidAmidi

          We often do talkback threads in which readers who see new films share their thoughts. You can see examples of them here: http://www.cartoonbrew.com/talkback

          • Mark Williams

            Oh, excellent! I’ve been reading the blog for quite sometime (any only just now have started to use the comments section). Would this film constitute a talk-back section? I find it interesting at how much conversation it has started up in the industry. From lawsuits to low-balling to big openings to TWC even mentioning they may be developing a sequel due to its success. All the talk is what led me to this thread, in fact. Even the TAG Blog is discussing it as a Weinstein success.

            Just a thought.

            Thanks for keeping the blog alive and interesting!

  • Polecat

    Nope. Not me.

    • Mark Williams

      Polecat, I’m curious… why not?

      • Polecat

        Okay, well, most of the reasons are just my personal taste. For one thing, I haven’t got an interest in aliens or sci-fi, except for 1950s B-movies. For another, the characters just don’t look that appealing to me. Just not my bag. This whole discussion seems to have gotten people very upset at whether a feature is going to be dismissed out of hand just because
        a) it’s CG and has kind of a Dreamworks look to it, and
        b) Amid flatly says it stinks.
        But I can assure you that the main reason for me is that I’m just not into aliens. I don’t listen to the critics. I go with my own personal tastes. And if your personal tastes compel you to see this movie, then by all means do what makes you happy. Did you see it? I’m curious too now!

        • Mark Williams

          Fair enough and a very astute answer, Polecat. At least you have a reasoning behind your stance. i, for one, enjoyed the film and encourage others to check it out nonetheless.

          But I agree with your thoughts and how they can effect one’s desire to see a film. For instance, I’m not to fond of the looks or the trailers for DWA’s “The Croods.” But though I may not be finding much interest in it, I do hope it does well and I will make it out to see it before I give an honest judgement on how DWA did.

          I say to go out and see EVERY animated film, but wait until you see it before you announce thoughts that may prevent others from going out, as well. We all need to get people into theaters to enjoy our medium.

  • http://twitter.com/SarahJesness SarahJesness

    Eh, I saw a lot of TV ads for this movie but it’s hard to say if it will do well.

    With that said, I don’t think I’ll be seeing it. I’m a broke college student and can’t afford to go to the movies very often, so I’m pretty selective about what I go see. This movie doesn’t look terrible but it doesn’t seem that great either, so unless the reviews were very, very good, I’ll have to pass on this one.

  • JodyMorgan

    The commercials have been plentiful on Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, and the like, for about a month now. What I find interesting is that the commercials started out with pretty much the generic slapstick moments and punchlines that you’d expect in a commercial for a feature like this, but the latest commercial is really pushing the voice talent hard, showing the actor onscreen alongside the character they play. So they’re pretty much ignoring the plot and the apparent main character to try to sell kids on the idea of watching characters voiced by Brendan Fraser and Bill Shatner.

  • Nick Name

    I’d heard of it, but I had no idea it was opening this weekend. I haven’t seen a single ad for it on TV in the Bay Area.

  • Johnny Law

    Saw it this weekend with the intended audience — my 5-year-old. He loved it. Aliens and space ships, duh!
    While you could see several of the plot points coming from a mile away, it wasn’t horrible by any means.

    The animation was great, the backgrounds were full of beautiful details and it looks like some money and TLC was put into the production.
    All your favorite C- and D-listers were present as “voice actors” and several did a nice job, while others fell flat.
    Long story short, kids will love it and parents will be able tolerate it.
    Cheers!

  • Yes!

    Absolutely will go- and it won’t flop because it is sweet and fun. Kids will love it and parents will feel safe taking them. There hasn’t been an animated film since Thanksgiving.

  • Ted

    I have my fingers crossed for this to be a huge hit. I love independent film and experimental shorts, but these movies are really what butters most animators bread. Full disclosure: I live in Vancouver, where this was animated. I have never worked for the company that made this, nor am I close with anyone who worked on it, but I am praying that this is a success.

    It is so easy (believe me I’ve done it plenty!) to sit on the sidelines and pass judgement on movies aimed at a broader audience: ie families, but if the majority of people who comment in the negative ever tried to make a film, they would have a lot of new found respect for the creators of this movie. These filmmakers had to put up some cold, hard cash, and a serious investment of time. And that is what separates the players from the spectators. What are you willing to risk?

    Vancouver is absolutely heaving with talent, and I am glad to see my town get a chance to hone it’s skills. But this isn’t only about Vancouver. The more animated films succeed, the more work there is for all of us. I believe there is a new golden age happening right now, and I can’t wait to see the new classics that are are born from it. We just have to roll up our sleeves, and make it happen.

  • lulu

    Looks like everyone’s cynical projection of $10M was flat-out wrong. Try a four-day box office take of $21M. Just because a film was made for families doesn’t automatically make it a failure. I love how most critics gave this movie a failing grade before it was even released. The fact that there was a lawsuit somewhere along the line and that it came from TWC tells you nothing about the actual film. Sheesh. I agree with Ted below: it’s so easy for people on the sidelines to pass judgement. But if an audience walks away happy, that’s what matters. A B+ Cinemascore says it all.

  • Mark Williams

    Wow, I remember when Cartoon Brew was a positive animation news source. With a headline like this, it shows a blatant push to knock down artists – very sad, especially nowadays when we should be championing each other amongst all the layoffs.

    I saw “Escape” yesterday and was completely blown away with the artisty. It wasn’t a pixar film with a Pixar-branded story by any means, but I don’t think they were trying to do that. The animation, shading, sets, lighting, cinematography all screamed top-notch. The story wasn’t anything too fancy, but it didn’t NEED to be. It was fun, my kids loved it and pretty much ALL the kids in the theater did, too.

    If you work in this industry, as I do, you know how hard it is to get something like this film done, no matter how small a production (has anyone here actually done their research and seen JUST HOW SMALL their budget was? – $40mil? That’s PENNIES next to a Pixar/DWA film). Sad this film is getting anything by praise for its efforts.

    If you read Cartoon Brew, I hope you help challenge the writers here to write articles that lift up our industry instead of trying to knock it down (and why?). Positivity is what we need more of and that’s usually what the animated medium tries (and usually does 99% of the time) to bring.

    I’m glad to see “Escape” about to pull in $20 over a 4-day opener. That’s pretty impressive and the crew that made it should be proud and certainly shouldn’t be reading the likes of any blog (such as this) that rivals in the effort to knock down people actually creating the medium (not just writing about it) that this blog claims to be so keen to report on.

    I may go see “Escape” again just to make this blog’s prediction of a $10mil opener even all the MORE ridiculous.

    Congrats to the “Escape From Planet Earth” team for the hard work (as I’m SURE it certainly was) and to ANY team out there working so hard as to actually finish an animated feature film.

    Bravo.

  • Mark Williams

    Wow, I remember when Cartoon Brew was a positive animation news source. With a headline like this, it shows a blatant push to knock down artists – very sad, especially nowadays when we should be championing each other amongst all the layoffs.

    I saw “Escape” yesterday and was completely blown away with the artisty. It wasn’t a pixar film with a Pixar-branded story by any means, but I don’t think they were trying to do that. The animation, shading, sets, lighting, cinematography all screamed top-notch. The story wasn’t anything too fancy, but it didn’t NEED to be. It was fun, my kids loved it and pretty much ALL the kids in the theater did, too.

    If you work in this industry, as I do, you know how hard it is to get something like this film done, no matter how small a production (has anyone here actually done their research and seen JUST HOW SMALL their budget was? – $40mil? That’s PENNIES next to a Pixar/DWA film). Sad this film is getting anything by praise for its efforts.

    If you read Cartoon Brew, I hope you help challenge the writers here to write articles that lift up our industry instead of trying to knock it down (and why?). Positivity is what we need more of and that’s usually what the animated medium tries (and usually does 99% of the time) to bring.

    I’m glad to see “Escape” about to pull in $20 over a 4-day opener. That’s pretty impressive and the crew that made it should be proud and certainly shouldn’t be reading the likes of any blog (such as this) that rivals in the effort to knock down people actually creating the medium (not just writing about it) that this blog claims to be so keen to report on.

    I may go see “Escape” again just to make this blog’s prediction of a $10mil opener even all the MORE ridiculous.

    Congrats to the “Escape From Planet Earth” team for the hard work (as I’m SURE it certainly was) and to ANY team out there working so hard as to actually finish an animated feature film.

    Bravo.

    • Steve

      Right! These comments of distain or just a lazy lack of interest show that it really is time for artists to stop being rabid fans and start thinking of animation as an mature industry and treat ourselves as smart freelancers inside of it. The fact that this widened the field a bit (a new studio) may be a Godsend to you and your families someday.

      Escape was given a B+ from Cinemascore. Time to reboot.

      • jonhanson

        I’m definitely rooting for every CG studio out there to succeed, but I’m worried this attitude goes a little far towards cheering everything regardless. Everyone working, or looking to work, should certainly cheer success, but fans of the art-form should be speaking their mind when it comes to the quality of the product coming out. Look at a truly mature industry like hollywood and plenty of people aren’t afraid to call a movie as they see it even if they wouldn’t turn down a chance to work on it.

        Not to say anything bad about Escape, I haven’t seen it though I plan to soon, and I certainly agree that there have been too many people here counting it out too soon, but part of the continued success of animation depends on the quality of the films being put out. We could all uncritically praise every film out of a desire for more jobs but the layoffs at Dreamworks show that bigger isn’t necessarily better if a glut of questionable product ultimate hurts audience interest.

        • Steve

          Nothing is wrong with critical thinking- it is exactly what should be happening. Thoughtful comments about quality from people who have seen it are useful. A dismissive “pass” demonstrating a closed mindedness is not.

          The live action industry creates a variety of “products” -some amazing, some okay but no one describes it as a glut. To get to a place where many different stories can be told with animation it is important to encourage smaller and independent animation studios.

          People who work in the industry should be thoughtful and smart and not just rely on the big studios to entertain us or be the only hope of a career. If a small studio manages to make a movie with all the huge road blocks in place, I don’t think potential employees (that is you, believe it or not) should be the ones to throw the first stones without some educated reason to do so.

    • AKM

      Thanks for the support! As someone who worked on the film, the positive comments are truly appreciated. We make films for the viewers, not the critics :)

  • Conchbeard

    Max Williams, I thank you. As we all worked my asses off on this film. It is the seventh I have been part of, and was the most rewarding to date(some have Oscar’s). Although they spent 40 mill, it was made for far less, and we are all very proud of what we have done. I am not overly bothered by the haters, being a dick is fun,and some of them have valid points! What I really appreciate, are industry folks such as yourself, who understand what it really takes to make a film like this. One comment like yours out of a thousand is all we need mate!

    ALW

    • Mark Williams

      Happy to help, ALW. We need critical thinkers out there, I agree. I just think the community of animators should support animation, first and foremost. Bravo on “Escape.” My kids are asking for me to take them again this week during their winter break.

      Talk about great timing to open a family film!

  • matt shepherd

    I worked on this flick..Was a great experience. great crew, great project, good memories. I’m not sure what was aired in New York but Amid you should subscribe to more channels..the marketing was definitely present on the West coast…I thought TWC did a great job campaigning this film, certainly shows in the numbers. Proof is in the pudding.

    • Mark Williams

      Great work, Mr. Shepherd. What did you do on the film, specifically? I was pleasantly surprised.

  • S

    You might wanna check the box office numbers for the long weekend. ~$21mil. Great job!! The little movie that could :’)

    • jonhanson

      Yep, pretty much the same as Rise of the Guardians, and that movie had almost three times the production budget and certainly a lot larger promotional budget. Congrats on the success everyone, here’s to more medium budget animated features and more diversity!

  • Mark Williams

    By the looks of things and the success of the film this weekend, it’ll be a good bit of time until you’ll be able to stream it on Netflix. :P

  • Mark Williams

    Apologies, i meant the removed comment are encouragement, though I can see how it could have been interpreted otherwise. Thank you for removing. I value the feedback here and want to help.

  • Mark Williams

    Turns out “Escape” was Number one at the box office yesterday, beating out Die Hard 5 for the top spot. Fascinating.

  • Nicholassinisi

    I took my ten-year-old daughter to see it, and she enjoyed it. Yes, the story was somewhat familiar, but I was very happy with the look of the film – and the 3D, which I can usually live without, was done very well and enhanced the viewing experience!

  • Vincent Tilghman

    You mean Mars Needs Mo- I mean Planet 5- I mean Space Chi- I mean Monsters vs Alie- I mean Escape From Planet Earth.. whew OK.. that was a hard one.. This movie has been replicated to death in such a short amount of time that it has grown tastelessly stale and is an obvious money grab off of youth consumerism. We Are Not Sheep Hollywood!! Let That B***h breathe!