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‘Legends of Oz’ Producer Greg Centineo Knows Why The Film Flopped

Greg Centineo.

Last weekend, The Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return recorded the worst opening ever for an animated film in more than 2,500 theaters. The film’s exec producer, Greg Centineo, a former Florida coffee shop owner who raised over $100 million from investors to produce this film and its followups, thinks he knows what went wrong.

In an inteview with Animated Views, Centineo, who lists one of his job titles as “seeker of meaning,” suggests that movie critics conspired to crush his film:

“The project is not owned by a studio. It’s owned by individuals. Hundreds of people around the country and the world literally invested in this project. We’re nobodies in this industry. And we stepped into a deep, deep ocean, with some very, very big sharks. Some of those mainstream critics have not just trashed the movie, but literally tried to crush it. When you read how belligerent they are against the project – against the film – compared to the audience reviews, it speaks for itself. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out something is wrong there.”

RELATED: Legends of Oz Investors, Who Each Paid $100,000, Believe Hollywood Conspiracy Destroyed Film

Later in the inteview, Centineo attacks his film’s distributor, Clarius Entertainment for not doing their job:

“If you want me to be frank with you, I think the marketing of the project was anemic. It was done by Clarius – I’m sure you’ve read the article today about them. They have a potential flop with this. They definitely dropped the ball on promoting what seems to be a very loved film by people.”

Centineo is nothing if not an optimist and he believes that the film’s opening weekend was simply a “false opening.” Grosses will pick up this weekend, he says:

“So, now it’s about getting more awareness for the project. We’re doing that through a lot of viral sources and social media. I think the movie had an awareness problem in its opening weekend. We’re almost treating that like a false start or a false opening, in working toward this weekend. Hopefully, we’ll do better this weekend. I believe we can. I believe the movie can increase its box office as word of mouth gets around. As long as that happens, I think we can see this thing be respectable at the box office.”

And should it not do any better this weekend, Centineo has still got leftover money from his investors that he’s going to use to make two more Oz sequels and a TV series. (He claims that he raised over $100 million and that the film cost $70 million to produce.)

  • Roberto Severino

    This guy is way in over his head!

  • jmahon

    Instead of making sequels, Mr. Greg Centineo, may I suggest the very bold initiative to return to what this film’s first previews billed it to be, and make an actual adaptation of the actual book, which is something nobody has ever actually done yet. Surely you’ve read them and understand what I mean. Why not give that a try?

    Ages ago(I’ve been following this forever it seems like) a short “proof of concept” sequence for a “Dorothy of Oz” was released that showed a much mellower, peaceful and beautiful sort of film that was being made and I was really enthralled. I wish one day for that animated film to be made. I think this was her: http://www.filmbuffonline.com/FBOLNewsreel/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/BoormanOzDorothy.jpg I would love to hear about what decisions were made to move away from that sort of approach. Of course I only saw a preview and have no idea that it ever was what I assumed it was, but it’s nice to dream.

    Nonetheless if I can’t find a theater that shows it here I’ll stream it on itunes when it comes out. I’m sure it’s a great film, it looks very entertaining.

    • Strong Enough

      they slipped crack into the studio. thats what happened

    • Ignoranimus

      Actually, that concept art’s from John Boorman’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, which apparently has been in the works since 2008. http://www.filmbuffonline.com/FBOLNewsreel/wordpress/2010/09/07/a-peek-at-boormans-animated-oz-project/

      It’s strange, there doesn’t seem to be much other information on this film around the web. It makes me wonder whether the project’s been abandoned entirely.

      • RCooke

        “Sqeal like a flying monkey…!!!!!!!”

      • Matt Jones

        The John Boorman animated Oz was being produced at a CG animation company in the south of France called The Bakery. I wonder what happened to it?

  • Pedro Nakama

    Is it just me or is anyone else kinda sick of the “Wizard of Oz”?

    • Jack Rabbit

      Not really……it has to be done right. The Disney version of the Almighty Powerful Oz from last year was pretty good. Although I initially wanted to smash that little porcelean doll into a million billion pieces. I think what did it for me was the use of the Praxinoscope idea, and the green witch. The difference between that movie and this is that a lot of money was put into the Diz version, and this was a stressed production by its limitations. It shows in the stills, I am not interested in even being paid to see this. So a good Oz movie needs ideas from the outside such as: do the book versions ver-batum. And to be appropriately budgeted. The platform given to this Producer renders cheap and meaningless statements plus the threat of sequels. He is putting the blame everywhere but where it should go…which probably should include himself as well. Just another throwaway movie.

  • Jumpin Jack

    I saw a lot of commercials for it, but the animation does not look like it was made for $70 million it looks more like $35 million.

  • No wait wait wait, let’s think about this for a second: the film fails to make money the old fashioned way, so the director goes around claiming the critiques are all bogus & that the film is TOTALLY worth seeing. Thus gaining even FURTHER bile from the media & thus fueling interest in seeing the film just to see if it really is as bad as reported.

    …….Greg Centineo you magnificent evil genius you.

    • miikesobi

      For the record though if you check rotten tomatoes the audience rating is 86%(Frozen, a Disney movie, was 88%) and yet the critics rating was 14%, whereas Frozen’s was 89%. If you read the audience reviews they rave about the film and seem to genuinely enjoy it. Critics ratings are never that different from the audience ratings, so I understand where hes coming from. Although you are right, definitely tempted now to see if the critics were wrong or if it is just over-hyped.

  • Max W

    “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out something is wrong there.”

    Yup, that’s what I thought when I saw the billboards for this film all over Los Angeles.

  • Skid

    The previews looked horrible and not up to the standards of modern animated theatrical releases. I’m sure it’s as bad as people are saying.

    You need to own up to your failures or else you’ll never understand how to succeed.

    • SarahJesness

      Not to mention that the story itself is a rather hard sell. The 1939 Wizard of Oz is a classic, and one of the best known films. You’d be hard-pressed to find an American who hasn’t seen it. This is one of those rare instances where people either want any new version to live up to the original, or at least be different enough to offer something new. Judging by the trailers, it doesn’t look like this film would do either.

    • Johnny Luu

      ‘The film’s exec producer, Greg Centineo, a former Florida coffee shop owner’ There’s your failure, right there.

  • MaskedManAICN

    While it clearly has a subpar look, it still might clever enough- like Hoodwinked. Checking it out on Rotten Tomatoes, out of over 11,000 audience reviews- 88% liked. But the top critics (48 of ’em) gave it 13%.
    So he might have a point.

    • SarahJesness

      Audience reviews usually give high scores.

      • jonhanson

        Most people don’t go to movies they think they’ll hate.

        • SarahJesness

          Yep. Not to mention that a lot of people have much lower standards for children’s films.

    • jay

      They also had shills and thousands of investor family members posting

      I know Greg’s family well. Greg wasn’t some coffee shop owner he sold sub prime me mortgages until it blew up. Before that he was a failed televangalist. The entire family is always trying for scammish investments. Not to mention the entire fundraising for this film was illegal as shown by the millions of complaiants online and the other procuers long history of illegal movie money raising. Thousands of people literally lost everything with the vast majority being unqualified investors.

  • DangerMaus

    Did he ever think that maybe he didn’t produce a very good movie? Honestly, the characters turned me off when I watched trailer. They all came across as moronic. I know the film wasn’t aimed at me, but at a 70 million dollar budget the makers have to ensure that the film will appeal to more than just kids. The trailer managed to send a vibe that the film would be watchable only to that demographic.

    I might eventually rent this on disc to see if my initial impressions were correct. The apparent quality does not seem to warrant a visit to the theater.

  • Toonio

    One of the possibilities (capital P) of a conspiracy, is the fear of India.

    Listen, there are enough animation “mafias” in the US and Canada to crush any possible competitor. They own the art exploiting artists left and right and brainwashing the audience to let anyone else get in.

    So all we are left with is lots of crap from flight by night studios and a few shiners from ye olde ones here and there.

    Yep Oz is very rough on the edges (and only god knows where all
    the money went) but it’s like a new Hoodwinked like MaskrdManAICN said. Which I welcome any day over the high school/full of cliches dramas animated productions have become over the last years.

    My piece of advice when swimming with sharks is destroying them at their own game (that simple) The only problem is you will most likely end up being a poor jerk as those you originally fought,

  • Gerard de Souza

    Out of curiosity has any Brew reader actually seen it?

    It’s quite ballsy or foolhardy when they make films when the original is so iconic. I know sometimes they may think, “but this is closer to the book” but maybe that’s exactly why some original films based on books do well; they’re nothing like the book, they’re a movie.

    • Jeff Kurtti

      I saw it opening night. It’s a virtual remake of the original story with different characters. It is neither close to the books, or close to any other film adaptation.

      • timmyelliot

        Based on your criticism, it seems that you didn’t realize the film is based on Baum’s, Dorothy of Oz book.

        • Landon Kemp

          The book in question wasn’t written by L. Frank Baum, but rather his great-grandson, Roger S. Baum

        • Jeff Kurtti

          “Dorothy of Oz” was written in 1989 by Roger S. Baum. He’s the grandson of L. Frank Baum. I may not have been clear, I was referring to the original Baum Oz books, hence my comment regarding their public domain status.

      • Melvin

        This keeps happening due to the belief that audiences will only buy familiarity when it comes to certain franchises. Why do soundtracks of animated shows use only the same six or seven pubic domain Stephen Foster tunes when the man wrote a ton of other, less well known but equally serviceable music? Because nobody wants to go down unexplored streets when the familiar is readily available. All it will take is someone with real guts and a point of view to buck the system.

  • Am I the only who’s never even heard about this film?

    This guy might have a point w/ the Iron Giant type advertising push.

    Still, 70 million?!? Sounds like the ol’ Hollywood shuffle and these suckers got bilked.

    • TheDisbeliever

      No kidding. $10 million more than The Lego Movie? Really?

  • Jonathan Wilson

    Amid, do you have any interviews with the rest of the crew, like Will Finn and/or Daniel St. Pierre?

  • Landon Kemp

    I hate that he’s trying to pin the blame on the critics and the distributor. Considering what I’ve heard about it, it’s probably not as good as Greg Centineo is building it up to be.

    • BlueBoomPony

      I dunno. There’s been a number of films in recent years where the critic and audience ratings are pathologically different.

      • Landon Kemp

        That may be, but sometimes audiences don’t really know any better and sometimes a movie really is bad. But I’m jumping ahead of myself. What are some examples of these films you’re talking about?

  • TheFlyingDachshund

    Speaking as a parent… I’ve seen the trailers for this movie SEVERAL times through Cartoon Network and Nickeloden, which is where they figure their audience would come from… Not sure about other networks, as most of that stuff I DVR and watch later and thus don’t see commercials…

  • Paul M

    “‘Cause it was crap” would’ve been my guess.

  • V.M.L.

    Uh, no. The opinions of critics don’t always stop people from watching movies. There are so many movies that have made millions in the box office and they had the worst reviews from critics.

  • Vivi

    The movie it’s pretty bad….very bad. Actually, it is off putting. The 3D Models are terrible, the render is cheap, the dialog is static and stiff, the edition is clunky, There’s better soundtracks at free stock sites. It is impossible to save, which is sad. There’s no theory of conspiracy here. It is just a very bad movie. No loving parent will take their children to watch this. I HAVE to watch every animation movie, because of homework. But I assure you that I had a better time at The Nut Job, and I cried myself to sleep questioning my life that day.

    • RCooke

      I agree. The film was bad, but no worse than that free birds cartoon, space chimps, or alpha and omega. And the animation in this film is better (and that’s not saying a lot). It certainly felt over managed by people who don’t know anything about storytelling. I sure would love to hear Dan St. Pierre and Will Finn’s stories, but bet we won’t for some time. Those guys are both extremely talented, and the film smells of “not their fault” in every frame.

      • Vivi

        I had already blocked free bids, Oh jesus christ. WHY why did I had to remember!?

      • Alpha and Omega was great for what it was.

        And models are just an art-style.

        Honestly, from the fact that a lot of audience liked this and the fact that all I see is bias hatred, I don’t really agree.

  • Max C.

    Or maybe people just aren’t interested? *shrug*

  • Nick Name

    In 1985 Walter Murch made an excellent sequel to the original film, called “Return to Oz.” It was weakly promoted by the studio (Disney) due to a change in management. Not animated, no cute songs, but closer to the spirit and intent of the original Baum books than any other Oz film. Maybe a little too dark for the youngest kids, but but absolutely worth watching.

  • hjalmar poelzig

    The character designs and scene compositions seem awfully chintzy in the publicity material. I haven’t seen the movie because the whole thing looks like something thrown together in India. Will Finn and Dan St; Pierre are capable guys, but this project doesn’t look like a $70 million feature.

  • Bob Harper

    Hey Amid,

    I employ you for all of our sake to either research or point to articles/interviews to how this guy raised $100 Million for this. That story would help us who are trying to produce indy features. I for one would deeply appreciate what you uncover.

  • Max Ann Caroline

    So Greg Centineo wants to create a franchise of an existing property, which are movies based on books from L. Frank Baum’s grandson, which aren’t good. Reminds me of what the director or producer of the Oogie Loves, the preschool aimed movie, few years ago wanted to achieve, which thankfully went nowhere.

  • forgot to mention

    Atleast whoever came up with the Oogie Loves tried to make a franchise of new characters.

  • Steven Bowser

    Is this film really just bad? Is that the takeaway from this, or do you think it is okay for what it is? It can’t be as bad as Food Fight…

  • Adzl33t

    Then why is the film is some generic cheap studio crap, it’s not even interesting crap like The Room, or Plan 9, where there’s at least some kind unique creativity involved

    • pingrava

      This thing is gonna wind up shrink wrapped with a couple of DVDs of really bad colorized Terry Tunes and sit in a display by the checkout counter in your local supermarket.
      I can understand a so so animated film as part of some giveaway associated with a popular kid’s toy. But there are too many fine films that set the standard, and many highly talented (unemployed) writers, animators, etc. to choose from. So I don’t think it’s a matter of talent. I suspect that this film suffered badly because the decisions of the people actually making the film were over ridden by the guy in charge and the money men.
      Is there really THAT many imbecilic investors who would back a project like this? Man – I’m in the wrong business.

  • Joshua Boulos

    From a consumer’s perspective, I believed the reason fir this dud was because this film just doesn’t appeal to the public. The Wizard of Oz film and story has been retold dozens of times with numerous films. That is is when we sort of get tired of the thing. Something like the lego movie went so well because no one has seen a film like it. It’s just what is interesting to consumers. I mean if you publicize your film a lot, it doesn’t mean it will do good. I mean look at Walking with Dinosaurs. I haven’t even heard of this Oz film nor am I interested in it because there’s nothing new to see. We consumers want to be amazed and see new concepts.

    • GW

      There are plenty of lego movies out there already from fanmade brick films to direct to video movies and tv shows. Most people haven’t watched the direct to video releases and tv shows because they’re not considered as dignified as a theatrical release or because they’re not very good. Either way, the reality is that the lego movie wasn’t all that new conceptually.

    • pingrava

      You may be right. But there are many takes on the same theme that have done well. If this film were done by a, say, a Pixar or a DreamWorks and was well thought out, the film may have been a hit – especially if it were for small children with the occasional wink and a nod for mom and dad…or at least popular enough to turn a profit.
      If this guy had any scruples he would return the left over cash to his investors.

  • pingrava

    1. Critics review movies but have little influence on how they do at the box office. “Expendables” was given one star yet was one of the highest grossing films in a long time.
    2. The movie looks like crap. Reminds me of those really bad direct the DVD Barbie flicks the babysitter puts on to keep the kids quiet for a few minutes.
    3. This guy has issues. I think he lost all objectivity(aside from being arrogant) because he’s obsessed with this film. I can’t believe that along the way someone didn’t tell him to shelve this project and do something else. Also someone needs to sit this guy down and have a talk with him. After this disaster he’s planning two sequels? He’s like the dismembered knight in “Monty Python & The Holy Grail”.
    4. How many stories out there about low budget flicks that hit it big? If the film was worthwhile someone would have picked it up.
    5. Blame yourself. As obnoxious and self-centered as Hollywood types can be, you rarely – if ever- hear them come out and publicly bad mouth others for the failure of a movie. It’s bad form.

  • Eman

    Or it could be that the film had, you know, no appeal.

    And don’t give me that stuff about “dropped the ball on promoting”. They advertised the everliving crap out of this thing. I couldn’t go one hour without seeing ads about it using the same old tired jokes over and over.

  • Acme

    What is Mike Judge doing in this movie as a voice actor?

  • EvilDrPorkchop

    So a project failing to connect with many people (audience, critics, industry people, etc) equals more movies and a tv series? People have a weird sense of success these days.

  • Damian

    The film could be bad, Centineo could have produced a horrible film as well. But there’s something right about his statement. Critics are like biassed journalists. They get paid to destroy certain films. I’m not saying about this one, but the huge marketing machine behind The Lego Movie was very present here in Cartoon Brew, with Amidi throwing flowers and worshiping the animation approach (as if it was something that’s never been done before!)… BUT before that everybody seemed to be in sync to destroy Free Birds. Some of the comments were offensive towards the works of artists and Amidi stands for DreamWorks when that company takes the jobs to China with false affirmations (saying that job opportunities are not lost in the US). When I read the articles about Free Bird here I just didn’t want to see it, but I did see it and despite I found some flaws I thought it was a good film. Call it different, boring, but many people I know who watched it liked it.

    We live in an era where we should doubt about everthing we get told. Let’s not be naive folks. Do you think Marvel, DreamWorks, LEGO, etc., etc., etc. would stay sitting with their arms crossed watching how independent movie critics write?

  • Breid123

    Ok, here comes a dumb comment but I have to assume the investors will probably not get their money back, or it will take years.

  • IamMe

    Okay I have a special talent. I can see a preview and almost from the get go know within a couple of million how much a movie will make on opening weekend. I said Godzilla would do about 90 and it did 93. :) I can do this for about 90% of movies. This one I did not see breaking 10. Why?

    1. Movies are too expensive so people are more picky and selective than they used to be. I used to watch almost everything when movies were 5-7 bucks. That was nothing. Now I have to just wait versus 10-15 bucks. So movies like this automatically don’t get a chance.

    2. Why don’t they get a chance? Well the folks decided to put it in between 3 giant movies, Spiderman and Godzilla. Now I have a budget to watch maybe 1 movie with the family of 4, which do you think I’m going to? Oz? or SPIDERMAN or GODZILLA, followed by XMEN? Who is the doofus who decided to put it between those 3 movies? Seriously? You failed automatically the moment you picked that release date. Just like Million Dollar Arm and that looks like a good movie.

    3. Your movie looks like crap. Seriously dude, this is 2014. You have to do better than Hoodwinked level animation. Nobody wants to pay 11 bucks to see that quality of animation no matter how good the movie story.

    4. Your budget also caused you to be a failure. As an indie you should have been able to do that movie for a lot less. 70 million? Seriously. Have you seen the CG animation under 50 Million? Zhumba, Dragon Hunters, Turtles Tale, Captain Harlock, Futbol the Movie – heck all of Ghiblis films cost around 20 million. Why does your movie not look as good as these 20 million dollar movies? 70 Million should have gotten you at least Despicable Me or Escape from Planet EArth. You want to call yourself and Indie but you did it straight up Hollywood production style meaning over stuffed budgets for no reason. I mean you do realize that the LEGO Movie was 10 million dollars cheaper? Ya’ll just suck.

    So stop blaming the critics. No one really cares what they think anyway. There are a ton of movies that the critics hated and audiences went to go see and vice versa. Your movie was simply not one of them.

    I hope your movie does better but seriously you need to rethink your investment dollars. Maybe give some back and take up your new job as a fund finder. How did you find all these people to give you money? Please write a book and share. I have a ton of movies I’d like to make.

  • DBenson

    Has there been ANY really successful Oz film since the MGM musical? “Oz the Great and Powerful” may turn a profit in the end, but evidently not enough to create serious sequel buzz.

    Also, Oz is really problematic for franchise-minded studios. Anything that doesn’t look like MGM is “wrong”; the early books are public domain (anybody can merchandise or even build a theme park); and the successful book & play of “Wicked” may become the public’s “official” Oz if either makes it to film (assuming the deconstructed fairy tale genre hasn’t be wrung dry already).

  • James VanDam

    This seems like a pretty immature thing to do after your movie flops. Those big sharks he mentioned also started out as small fish themselves at one point but made there mark and clawed their way up in the industry.

  • Gumbo

    The novel “Dorothy Must Die” from Danielle Paige has more potential as a film than “Dorothy of Oz” from Roger S. Baum since it portrays Dorothy as a ruthless teenage dictator who turned the magical world of Oz into a dystopian wasteland. Another young woman from Kansas, cleverly named Amy Gumm, was sent to Oz to put an end to Dorothy’s reign. It was considered for being a tv series from the CW, but was nixed.

    “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” would be a decent kids film, but fell flat for so many reasons already mentioned. The only character that was somewhat memorable was Wiser Owl, though felt like a knock-off of Owl from “Winnie the Pooh”.

  • JosefineAnne

    This film had almost NO advertising. It seems to me that Calrius, who was to do the advertisng and destribution of the film did NOT do what they were paid to do. A film will”flop” if no one sees it. No one will see it if they don’t KNOW about it.