While not reaching the box office heights of a big-budget American animated feature, The Red Turtle actually performed decently for a French animated feature. French producers have struggled tremendously in the last few years trying to find audiences for original animated films that don’t follow the standard American animation playbook. A recent article (in French) highlighted the regrettably low admission numbers for five recent French animated films that are considered to have underperformed:
Adama: 65,000 admissions
Dofus – Book 1: Julith: 84,000 admissions
April and the Extraordinary World: 117,000 admissions
Phantom Boy: 151,000 admissions
Long Way North: 200,000 admissions
By this standard, The Red Turtle’ nearly 80,000 admissions in its first week is a hopeful sign. The film’s co-production status with Japan’s famed Studio Ghibli no doubt gave the film a name-recognition boost. Dudok de Wit’s film even beat the French openings of Ghibli’s last couple of homegrown efforts: When Marnie was There ($305,581 opening) and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya ($379,807). However, it didn’t come anywhere close to Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, which launched with nearly $2 million in January 2014.
The Red Turtle will open later this year in the United States through Sony Pictures Classics. The film won a special jury prize at Cannes in May.
Prima Linea Productions handled the animation production on Red Turtle and Wild Bunch released the film in France. Other companies involved in the production and financing of the film besides Studio Ghibli include Why Not Productions, Arte France Cinema, CN4 Productions, and Belvision.