Feature FilmIdeas/Commentary

‘Teen Titans Go! To the Movies’ Is Coming Out This Week, And Everyone Should Be Paying Attention

A lot of people are going to be – or at least, should be – keeping an eye on the release of Titans Go! To the Movies when it launches in U.S. and Canadian theaters this Friday.

It’s a major rarity: a fully-2d animated feature receiving a wide release (3,000+ theaters) by one of the majors (Disney/Universal/WB/Fox/Sony/Paramount). The last time this happened, if I’m not mistaken, was nearly a decade ago, in 2009, when Disney released The Princess and the Frog.

Unlike that Disney film which was hand-drawn frame-by-frame, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is digital 2d. The budget isn’t disclosed, but based on its appearance, it’s very likely that it’s the most modestly budgeted feature to be released by a major studio in recent years. It’s also likely that the greatest percentage of the film’s budget went to above-the-line talent.

Nevertheless, there’s a lot riding on it. If it’s a success, it could open the eyes of Hollywood, and inspire big American studios to pursue more diverse types of animated features. The belief among the majors that every animated feature needs to be a $60-200 million cg extravaganza is long overdue for reappraisal.

Because TTG! is budgeted so modestly, it doesn’t need to earn a $100 million for it to be considered a financial success by its studio. Even a respectable box office total of $50 million might be more than enough to make this a profitable venture for Warner Bros. And anything more than that would make it a very profitable film.

At this point, no one knows how it’s going to perform, but some of the people working on it have high hopes. People closely involved with the production have told me that they think the film will be a lot more successful than anyone is anticipating. (Box Office Pro is forecasting a $15.5 million opening, and a final take of $50 million.) Working in the film’s favor, early reviews have been remarkably positive. The film currently holds a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Early reviews aren’t claiming this is a revolutionary or game-changing film, but they are saying that what the filmmakers have delivered works on the bigscreen, which is equally important. Frank Scheck in The Hollywood Reporter offers a typical perspective:

The storyline is only slightly less rudimentary than the Saturday morning TV-level animation, but it all serves as an effective vehicle for some very funny gags inspired by comic book movies, beginning with the clever spoofing of Marvel films’ opening graphics. Sure, the screenplay by Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath includes the requisite fart and poop jokes, which elicited hearty guffaws from the youngsters who had been shoehorned into the press screening. But it also features enough smart meta-humor to make the proceedings go down easy.…Considering the somberness that afflicts so many DC universe releases, the tongue-in-cheek, albeit admittedly juvenile humor of Teen Titans Go! To the Movies should come as a welcome relief to fans.

In a year when animated superhero films are making waves – Incredibles 2 set an animation record domestically and the upcoming Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse looks to be a stylistic gamechanger for the industry – Teen Titans Go! To the Movies could become an important film in its own right, showing that if the content is right, 2d animated films still have a place in major U.S. studio line-ups.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is directed by Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail, from a screenplay by Michael Jelenic and Horvath.

Michail, Will Arnett, and Peggy Regan are producing, with Sam Register, Jelenic, and Horvath serving as executive producers. Apart from Arnett, all are Teen Titans Go! series contributors.

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