Archive for August, 2009

Weekend preview: Eureka, Ponyo and…?

August 21st, 2009

Looking ahead to the main events that might interest otaku over the next few days:

  • As I mentioned in Tuesday’s Cel Shaded, today is the first day you can buy tickets online for Eureka Seven ~good night, sleep tight, young lovers~, showing in Honolulu at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18. Tickets are $12.50 each, and exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes footage are promised as part of the package. Having always been scheduled to work on the nights of these one-night screenings — this one included — I’ve never been able to make it out to watch these films, so I throw this out to you Otaku Ohana readers (at least, the ones who are still around given this blog’s erratic publishing schedule): Have you ever been to one of these NCM Fathom screenings? If so, how was the experience?
  • Ponyo heads into its second weekend at the same theaters as last weekend (Regal Dole 18 and Windward 10; Consolidated Ward, Kahala, Pearlridge, Kapolei, Mililani). My hope is that the Regal Windward theaters fixed the problem I had at the first screening last Friday in which one row of house lights never dimmed. (Great for note-taking; not so much so for movie-watching.) Worth noting is that Ward and Kahala will be cutting back on the number of showings starting Monday (Ward goes from five showings a day to four; Kahala goes from six to four), and Mililani will trim its showings from five to four starting Tuesday. So if you want to catch Ponyo and have the convenience of doing so at a theater near you, now might be a good time to do so.If anything, this item also gives me an excuse to use another one of these cool Ponyo photos from the official electronic press kit.

    © 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT© 2008 Nibariki-GNDHDDT. All rights reserved.

    © 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT© 2008 Nibariki-GNDHDDT. All rights reserved.

  • Finally, I’d be remiss in not reminding you of two columns I have coming down the pipeline in the next few days, both in print (for all you old-school print media fans … rock on!) and online here at the dot-com. Sunday brings a quick-and-dirty look at two Studio Ghibli films, Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns (and I call it “quick-and-dirty” because I watched those movies and wrote up the piece in three days). And on Tuesday in Cel Shaded, I have an … announcement. A pretty cool one, involving yours truly. And that’s all I’ll say about that.


August 18th, 2009

(Thanks to Robocon on Twitter for the indirect inspiration for today’s blog post headline.)

The movie-going audience has spoken, the pennies have been tallied, and the verdict on Ponyo after its first weekend in U.S. theaters is a resounding … “meh.” In the grand scheme of things, Ponyo landed at ninth place on the weekend charts, beating out only Bandslam among the weekend’s new releases. Perhaps anyone who took my poll in the previous post was a bit overenthusiastic about Ponyo’s chances as well; it was a pretty resounding victory for the four-week-old G-Force, which earned about $3.4 million more than Ponyo this weekend. (Ponyo did, however, beat G-Force in average per-theater earnings, $3,868 to $2,256.)

© 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT© 2008 Nibariki-GNDHDDT. All Rights Reserved.

© 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT© 2008 Nibariki-GNDHDDT. All Rights Reserved.

And while Ponyo was certainly the best-performing film out of the three Ghibli films (Ponyo earned $3.58 million at 927 theaters; Spirited Away made $1.76 million in its peak release weekend of 711 theaters, while Howl’s Moving Castle made close to $865,000 at 202 theaters; all numbers in this post courtesy of Box Office Mojo), one would think Disney would have wanted a bit more than what it got.

Let’s trot out the tote board of theatrical releases with anime ties (seen earlier in “‘Blood’ money’”) and see where Ponyo stands among its peers in average per-theater earnings:

  1. Spirited Away (limited release, Sept. 20-22, 2002): $17,301 (26 screens)
  2. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (April 4-6, 2003): $12,338 (19 screens)
  3. Howl’s Moving Castle (June 10–12, 2005): $11,888 (36 screens)
  4. Pokemon: The First Movie (Nov. 10-12, 1999): $10,199 (3,043 screens)
  5. Pokemon The Movie 2000 (July 21-23, 2000): $7,113 (2,752 screens)
  6. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Sept. 17–19, 2004): $6,760 (47 screens)
  7. Blood: The Last Vampire (July 10-12, 2009): $5,501 (20 screens)
  8. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (Feb. 27–March 1, 2009): $4,156 (1,136 screens)
  9. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie (Aug. 13–15, 2004): $3,934 (2,411 screens)
  10. Ponyo (Aug. 14-16, 2009): $3,868 (927 screens)
  11. Steamboy (March 18–20, 2005): $3,490 (39 screens)
  12. Pokemon 3 (April 6-8, 2001): $3,080 (2,675 screens)
  13. Pokemon 4Ever (Oct. 11-13, 2002): $2,879 (249 screens)
  14. Spirited Away (post-Oscar wide release, March 28-30, 2003): $2,483 (711 screens)
  15. Digimon: The Movie (Oct. 6-8, 2000): $2,322 (1,823 screens)
  16. Dragonball Evolution (April 10-12, 2009): $2,181 (2,181 screens)
  17. Appleseed (Jan. 14-16, 2005): $2,157 (31 screens)
  18. Pokemon Heroes (May 16-18, 2003): $1,328 (196 screens)

Ponyo’s performance raises the question: Will any anime or anime-related property that gets a big push be successful in the U.S. market? I have no doubt that another such film will succeed sometime down the line … but it will take a franchise that captures mainstream America’s attention, as the early Pokemon movies did. And I’m not seeing anything hitting Pokemon-sized critical mass coming down the pipeline now or in the near future (the closest franchise, Naruto, is still largely being targeted at a niche audience). I also don’t believe the CG-animated Astro Boy will fill cash registers to overflowing when it bows later this year. (I’d love to be proven wrong, though.)

A pair o’ “Ponyo” poll-os

August 12th, 2009

Okay. I’ve talked about this movie in Cel Shaded. I’ve tweeted about the showtimes locally. And now, my topic du jour for this week is taking over Otaku Ohana as well. That topic, of course, is this:


© 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT© 2008 Nibariki-GNDHDDT. All Rights Reserved.

Yup, it’s all about Ponyo for us anime fans. You could probably recite the statistics by heart by now: latest Studio Ghibli movie to be released in English, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, original Japanese title translates into “Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea with a Boy and His Mom and Some Creepy Old Sorcerer Dude.” (Okay, I made up the part after the word “Sea,” but hey, anything seems long when compared to the simple title “Ponyo.”) It’s arguably the most mainstream otaku highlight of the year.

But we aren’t living in a media vacuum. Ponyo has some stiff competition awaiting it at the box office this weekend:

  • Bandslam. Hey, it’s the battle of the Disney teen-production megastars! Ponyo, of course, has Frankie “I’m the youngest Jonas Brother” Jonas and Noah “I’m Hannah Montana’s younger sister” Cyrus voicing Sosuke and Ponyo, respectively; Bandslam has High School Musical veteran Vanessa Hudgens. But will the teens who embraced Hudgens as High School Musical’s Gabriella — and who had an extra serving of eye candy in the form of Zac Efron with that franchise, to boot — want to see her in a new role?
  • District 9, the sci-fi thriller produced by the lord of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Jackson, about aliens isolated in South Africa. Lending it a bit of extra geeky street cred is the fact that Jackson and director Neill Blomkamp were supposed to collaborate on the Halo movie but ended up doing this movie instead when plans fell through. It’ll  undoubtedly be the sci-fi fanboy’s movie of choice this weekend.
  • The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, the comedy about used-car salesmen starring that guy from Entourage, Jeremy Piven, and not Will Ferrell, as the prominent tagline “From the guys behind Talladega Nights and Step Brothers!” would have you believe. These types of movies aren’t really my cup of tea, but apparently audiences love ‘em enough for studios to keep churning them out, so there you go.
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife, the story of a librarian cursed to jerk uncontrollably back and forth through time and the woman who loves him. For anyone looking for something to fill the “touching romance” slot in their movie-watching weekend, this will probably be that movie.

Now, I’m realistic about Ponyo’s chances at the box office. Unless thousands of movie projectors screening these films spontaneously break, Ponyo will not be the top-grossing movie of the weekend. (Besides, there’s also the matter of last week’s No. 1 movie, the one based on that ’80′s cartoon about soldiers fighting snakes.) But I’m just curious: Of the movies opening this weekend, which one will you see first? Will it be Ponyo, or will you hold off on seeing it in favor of another movie and catch it later, whether theatrically or on DVD?

Thus, a poll is born:

The second poll deals with Ponyo‘s target demographic — children. There’s another movie out that seemingly targets that same demographic — the live-action/CGI animated blend of G-Force, which also happens to be a Disney property. While I don’t watch much broadcast TV these days, what little I did see makes me think G-Force was much more heavily promoted than Ponyo was, which has me thinking that G-Force, despite having been out for several weeks now, could still theoretically beat Ponyo in box office revenues over this weekend.

Sooooooo …

No matter what you watch, enjoy your movie. And no cell phone use or talking while the movie screens, please.