Dreamworks CEO believes ‘Turbo’ will be profitable

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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.

Theriault clinches ARCA title before finale at Kansas

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) There is no long, convoluted story about how Austin Theriault came to Ken Schrader Racing, forging a team that so dominated the ARCA Series that it captured the title simply by showing up for the finale.

“We both wanted something to do,” the folksy Schrader said with a smile and shrug before Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway. “He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver.”

So, they solved each other’s problem.

Theriault hopped into the seat and proceeded to win seven times over the first 19 races, building such a lead on his nearest challenger that he sewed up the title at Kentucky. And that made for a rather enjoyable weekend at Kansas, where all the pressure was off their team.

Along the way, Theriault became the first driver to win at a superspeedway, short track, dirt track and road event in the same season, and he swept the superspeedway and short-track challenges.

If there was something to win, he won it.

“I hoped we’d have a shot at it and it’s proved out this year that we’ve really exceeded anybody’s expectations,” Theriault said. “We had some things to work on early. We kind of dusted off a bit, went back to work. We had some time between Daytona and the mile-and-a-halfs that came up later in the season, and we realized where we were strong and where we had to work.

“But in the end it came back to pure dedication, I think,” he explained. “The amount of time it took behind the scenes to make this happen.”

The 23-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, knows something about dedication. He appeared to be on racing’s fast track, scoring a Truck Series ride a few years ago for Brad Keselowski, when a terrifying crash at Las Vegas left him with a broken back and sitting on the sidelines.

The best ride he could find last year was in the K&N Pro Series.

It was at a trade show in Indianapolis last December that Theriault ran into Schrader, who was busy putting together a team for this season. They had dinner a couple nights later and, Schrader said, it was his wife Ann who came away impressed by the yes-sir, no-sir driver.

“My wife doesn’t go to all the races,” Schrader said. “After we talked she said, `I like that guy. How good is he?’ She doesn’t know. I knew he was racing well in Keselowski’s truck, had an unfortunate wreck, had to sit out a bit. I told her, `That’s somebody who could make us very happy next year.”‘

Theriault delivered on that promise.

They weren’t the only ones happy Friday, either. Zane Smith earned his second pole of the season, beating teammate Sheldon Creed to earn the top spot for the Kansas ARCA 150, while 20-year-old Natalie Decker announced a full-time ride with Venturini Motorsports next season.

“This is obviously a big step in my career,” said Decker, who made six starts as a rookie this season. “I’m confident and ready for this next move. After tonight my focus shifts to next season. We’ll be ready to go at Daytona.”