'Oogieloves' Bust

 By Robert Marich
 late add Sept 2: record-low box office over the Aug 31-Sept 2 opening weekend, as projected; Sept 12 adds Variety article link
    Aug. 31, 2012
   Ouch! The toddler movie The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure posted what is among the worst openings ever for a wide release movie. The $20 million production grossed just $47 per screen on its opening day on Wednesday, which works out to a paltry $104,564 total from 2,160 screens, according to BoxOfficeMojo.
     “Apparently, there’s not much love for the Oogieloves,” wrote Salt Lake City Tribune film critic Sean P. Means.
     The bust of this fairly-pricey movie is a cautionary tale for independents. The movie is self-distributed by producer Kenn Viselman Presents. He was involved in bringing Teletubbies and Thomas the Tank to commercial success to toddlers—ages four and under.
    Oogieloves suffers from lack of commercial appeal (according to reviewers). I’ve often said the much lambasted major studios—hate them or love them as you wish—enforce a quality control to churn out crowd-pleasing films, even if they are occasionally mindless like the blockbuster Transformers sci-fi franchise (Paramount Pictures). Indies don’t have the internal creative executives to weed out bad projects and keep productions on course.
     “The poor audience turnout came despite a promotional push that cost roughly $40 million, including ads on billboards and in newspapers and movie theaters nationwide,” says a Wall Street Journal article by Michelle Kung. “Movie reviewers have been merciless in their reaction to the film, ridiculing its characters, story line and tone.” Viselman lined up a Michigan-based real estate developer to bankroll the movie, which should generate revenue in DVD and TV. But the theatrical release—given the marketing cost—looks to be an economic bust.
     Oogieloves seems on track to generate around $500,000 for its three day opening weekend (Friday through Sunday) from 2,160 screens, making it even a bigger flop than the $6.5 million generated by Astro Boy from 3,000 screens in 2009. Oogieloves is a comparable flop to the $40 million production of Delgo in 2008, which grossed $511,920 from 2,160 screens (coincidently—the same as Oogieloves).
LATE ADD: Pamela McClintock of Hollywood Reporter wrote on Sept 2: “Independent kids film The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure is turning in one of the worst performances of all time at the domestic box office despite a sizeable marketing push by Kenn Viselman, who was instrumental in bringing Teletubbies to American television. Oogieloves grossed $448,131 from 2,160 locations for the three-day Labor Day weekend -- the lowest opening ever for a film playing in 2,000 to 2,500 theaters. The pic's screen average was $207, the worst ever for a film playing in 1,500 or more theaters.”
  The expensive-by-indie-starndards marketing included advance private screening for opinion molders, which in this case were Mommy bloggers who were allowed to bring children along. “Viselman’s tour hit Utah on Tuesday, meeting about a dozen local bloggers at Sandy’s Megaplex 17 at Jordan Commons before screening the movie for them, their mom friends and a whole mess of kids,” wrote Means of the Salt Lake City Tribune. “The choice to market the Oogieloves to moms, Viselman said, follows the example set by Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which was promoted heavily through churches and ministers.”
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