The numbers from this weekend’s box office will be tough to swallow at the house of mouse on Monday morning. $27 million for BOLT! versus $70.5 million for Twilight. BOLT! didn’t even creep into second place on the charts. That was reserved for super spy James Bond. So how did this happen?
Although I haven’t seen either film, both have received okay ratings, with BOLT! actually having the edge there. Twilight, however, has the advantage of having a mythology, the four Stephanie Meyer books, with fans of its own to support it. BOLT! comes out of no where. That said BOLT! has the advantage of the well practiced Disney marketing machine behind it as well as the legendary history Disney animation.
I don’t think you can blame the effort of Disney’s much improved animation team or of marketing for the poor showing this weekend. I think the biggest fault here is scheduling.
When Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince backed off November 21, 2008 to July 2009, Disney moved up the release of BOLT! one week to fill that slot. Obviously Disney thought they’d pick up all those young ‘tweens’ who are so valuable at the box office since they bring their parents and friends with them. With Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana herself, voicing one of the main characters, this move must have seemed like a “no brainer”.
As it turns out Walt Disney Animation Studios wasn’t the only company to have that idea; a little studio called Summit moved the release of its Twilight property from mid-Decmeber to the same weekend. Now Disney and Summit were competing head to head for the same ‘tweens’ audience. And judging by the box office results Summit won that battle by a landslide.
While the media is busy playing up the obsessed pre-teen fan card, those same teens were recently as devoted to Miley Cyrus as they are to Robert Pattinson (as the vampire Edward). I have to wonder how much the over-saturation and slight ‘passe’ feel of the Hannah Montana property played into Disney’s slide from grace this weekend.
I wish I was as optimistic as Walt Disney Studios spokesperson Heidi Trotta, who believes that word of mouth will help BOLT through the Holiday weekend. Instead I’m betting we’ll see those obsessed fans return again and again to see the object of their obession on the big screen. And as Twilight fans all know, it ain’t going to be a dog.
Update: OMG!!!!!!!!!!! To get an idea for how obsessed tweens can get, you have to watch this video of some young girls as they watch David Archuleta lose American Idol and then proceed to self-destruct. These same girls are now, no doubt, simiarly obsessed over Edward. (Thanks Rucker)