A logical step for many mid-sized animation/vfx production shops who wish to expand beyond the role of service provider for major film studios is to produce their own intellectual property — or at least develop branded content in which they have a financial stake. The latter was attempted by Rainmaker Entertainment in its deal with Insomniac Games to develop the video game series Ratchet & Clank into a theatrical franchise.
Rainmaker’s gamble, however, didn’t quite work out as planned, and the film has had a disappointing box office run. As a result, Rainmaker recently announced that it would book an impairment charge of approximately CDN$10 million (approximately US$7.5 million).
While a number of companies were involved in financing the film, Rainmaker was the lead investor, putting up 63% of the production cost. The CDN$10 million writedown includes the studio’s proportional share of advertising expenses, estimated between $1-4 million, and will be applied against net income in the first quarter of 2016.
Michael Hefferon, Rainmaker president and chief creative officer, pinned the film’s poor performance on Disney. “We are obviously disappointed with the North American opening release results,” he said in a press release. “The huge success of the Jungle Book, and continued strength of Zootopia, represented a loss of a large portion of the family market. Although support from the Ratchet & Clank fan base has been positive, the turnout for the film was not sufficient to overcome the highly competitive market place for the opening weekend of the film.”
Hefferon had been bullish on the film’s prospects prior to its opening, suggesting that it could perform similarly to The Nut Job, which grossed $121 million worldwide, and that Rainmaker might develop into the “Canadian Mac Guff” (referring to the French studio which produces Illumination’s animated films). Ratchet & Clank has grossed $8.2 million after three weekends in U.S. theaters.