A summertime glut of animated family films and a tough release date are the culprits behind the underwhelming domestic box-office showing of “Turbo,” according to Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.
But in a conference call earlier this week with analysts to discuss Dreamworks’ second-quarter earnings, Katzenberg also said he believed that the film, which cost $135 million to make and heavily features IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500, would still be profitable for his company.
Variety reports that “Turbo” has already crossed the $40 million mark internationally with several major markets still awaiting release. That’s in comparison to the $60 million that the film has brought in Stateside since hitting theatres on July 17.
“It’s a hit everywhere in the world, except for one territory [the U.S.],” said Katzenberg.
According to Variety, Katzenberg said that “Turbo” has been considered a disappointment based on Dreamworks’ past films that have crossed the $150 million mark, saying that “in the real world, a movie that’s in the vicinity of $100 million is still considered a hit.”
Nonetheless, he conceded that the film’s so-so domestic take has been “tough, because ‘Turbo’ was loved and beloved” by audiences, which gave it a CinemaScore of A.
“This is a movie that played great for its audience but we were never able to get the attention and traction of [that] audience coming so quickly after two blockbuster sequel animated titles,” Katzenberg said, referring to Disney/Pixar’s ‘Monsters University’ and Universal/Illumination’s ‘Despicable Me 2.’
However, it bears noting that ‘Turbo’ seems to be the start of a move from Dreamworks’ to depend less on box-office cash and more on other lines of business from TV to merchandising.
We already know that an animated series based on the film is slated to stream on Netflix at the end of the year, and the Variety report above has the company’s chief operating officer, Ann Daly, mention that children’s toys tied to the film have “outperformed expectations.”
Combine those elements with the film having a potentially strong take overseas and maybe – just maybe – there might be a ‘Turbo 2’ after all.