Sony Pictures Animation’s first CG feature OPEN SEASON opened in the #1 slot last weekend albeit with a weak $23 million (estimated) from 3,833 theaters. Box Office Mojo points out that this opening only seems good when compared to the weak box office of other recent CG films like EVERYONE’S HERO and THE ANT BULLY. It also notes that DreamWorks’s SHARK TALE opened on this same weekend in 2004 with $47.6 million. After this year’s glut of derivative, concept-deprived, gutless CG animated films, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing many more of those $40+million openings, save for the occasional quality pic. Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment prez Yair Landau attempted to put a positive spin on the OPEN SEASON debut: “This is our first time out and we don’t have a track record or an existing brand that parents can look to. So we’re very pleased to open Open Season comparable to the level of The Polar Express or Monster House that had the [Robert] Zemeckis and [Steven] Spielberg names attached to them.”
It’s hard to imagine that there’s many Sony execs who are actually pleased with this opening. The amount of money they spent on OPEN SEASON clearly indicated that Sony thought it was capable of playing ball with CG’s big boys (Pixar, DreamWorks and Blue Sky) and instead they’ve turned out a big budget film that will end up grossing in the neighborhood of a mid-range feature like JIMMY NEUTRON or BARNYARD. I’d be particularly worried if I were Sony since their next CG feature is yet another ‘talking animal’ pic – SURF’S UP – and judging by the film’s recently released TRAILER, not a particularly good one at that. It’s a real shame that a studio filled with as much talent as Sony doesn’t have the vision to allow its artists to work with quality ideas. They’ll be paying for it at the box office, as evidenced this past weekend.