Don’t Underestimate the Rat in the Kitchen

Don’t Underestimate the Rat in the Kitchen October 15, 2007

Before Pixar’s Ratatouille opened, the grumbling began in the industry, saying that it was too smart for kids, too sophisticated to be another Pixar smash-hit.

And when it failed to break records immediately, it was quickly a subject of scandal. Was Pixar slipping? Was their focus on storytelling rather than merchandise-friendly entertainment going to cause them to slide from the lofty heights of movie storytelling?

Folks… in the realm of fairy tales, the tortoise was onto something. Slow and steady wins the race. Pixar’s storytellers are exemplars of excellence, and just because they don’t have the most strategic marketing plan for a movie doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t built to last.

Ratatouille is performing just as it should. In fact, it’s becoming a huge success. Pixar shouldn’t be afraid of boasting about their lack of immediate block-busting success. Most opening-weekend blockbusters are testaments to the power of advertising, not the power of storytelling. But in the long run, what is more successful? What kind of big-screen family entertainment actually becomes meaningful for the families that attend?

Thanks to Christian Hamaker for passing along this piece by David Poland:

[Ratatouille] just passed Cars to become Pixar’s #5 worldwide grosser of all time. And Toy Story 2 is well in view, likely to be passed this week, just $10 million away. The film did over $21 million in the last week. …

The final worldwide number looks to be about $520 million… still not enough to take The Incredibles‘ #3 slot and likely to come up just behind The Simpsons‘ $525 million worldwide. But $530 million, beating out both films’ positions, is possible

So do ya think that maybe all the authors of those “Ratatouille is a dissapointment” stories owe the best mainstream animated film of 2007 a bit of an apology?

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5 responses to “Don’t Underestimate the Rat in the Kitchen”

  1. Yess!!! Ratatouille is finally getting the money it deserves! I was kinda sad when it came out because all my friends were like, “What? A rat in a kitchen! Too weird for me!” I had seen it and read all the rave reviews on it and I tried to argue with all of them that it would actually be good (before I saw it) and ended up actually being fantastic!! (after I saw it) So yeah, I’m glad it’s, if slowly but surely, getting the attention it deserves. Go Remy!!!!

  2. The $520M projection is too low. Future box office numbers look to be in the following range:

    +$30M UK ($9M after 1st weekend)
    +$20M Germany ($20M after 2nd weeked)
    +$20M Italy (hasn’t opened yet)
    +$5M Sweden (hasn’t opened yet)
    +$4M Finland (just opened)
    +$3M Austria ($3M after 2nd weekend)
    +$3M Switzerland (German-speaking Switzerland just opened)
    +$2M Norway ($3M after 2nd weekend)
    +$2M France ($64M after 10 weeks)
    +$5M Other (includes China)
    +$94M projected international going forward (more or less)
    +$271M international already earned
    +$200M domestic
    $565M projected total

    The movie just can’t finish with just $520M from here. There is still some uncertainty going forward, but not that much.

  3. It’s not a question of slow vs. fast box-office returns, so much as it is a question of American vs. foreign box-office returns. Ratatouille is Pixar’s smallest box-office performer since A Bug’s Life (1998), by far … in North America. The reason it’s doing so well overseas could be due to the fact that road trips across America don’t sell as well overseas as stories that celebrate European cuisine. Plus it helps that Ratatouille is a pretty good movie in some ways, whereas Cars wasn’t.

  4. It’s still, arguably, the best film I’ve seen this year– though Michael Clayton comes close, and, simply in terms of personal preference, I might favor Dan in Real Life.

  5. Go, Remy, Linguini and Emile! I took my two older daughters to see this great film, and then, with some trepidation, took all three girls, including my three-year-old. Tabitha, my tiny one, was riveted, much to my surprise and delight. So, good for you, Pixar!

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