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Studios Hope Holiday Family Movies Will Grab Slice Of Shrinking Box Office
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Studios Hope Holiday Family Movies Will Grab Slice Of Shrinking Box Office

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Studios Hope Holiday Family Movies Will Grab Slice Of Shrinking Box Office

Studios Hope Holiday Family Movies Will Grab Slice Of Shrinking Box Office
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So far Disney's Big Hero 6 is a winner and DreamWorks' Penguins of Madagascar is not. Studios look closely at opening weekend. In December, Night at the Museum 3 will compete with Annie, just before Into The Woods enters the race on Christmas Day.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Hollywood likes to roll out their big family movies around the holidays. This season the lineup includes "Big Hero 6," "Annie," "Penguins Of Madagascar," and the offbeat fairy tale musical, "Into The Woods."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ON THE STEPS OF THE PALACE")

ANNA KENDRICK: (Singing, as Cinderella) He's a very smart prince. He's a prince who prepares.

CORNISH: Disney executives hope families will flock to the theater to see "Into The Woods" when it opens Christmas Day, but as NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports, flocking to see any movie during any season has gone way down.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: For a big Hollywood movie to be a big hit, so many things need to go just right. Take "Night At The Museum 3." Remember the movie where the museum exhibits, like dinosaurs, come to life?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM")

BEN STILLER: (As Larry Daley) Go fetch.

BLAIR: The first "Night At The Museum" movies made about a billion dollars combined worldwide. But this final one could be seen as a tired relic and the movie's director, Shawn Levy, knows it.

SHAWN LEVY: It's not a fresh discovery. It's got the burden of expectation.

BLAIR: Plus, it's opening on December 19, the same day as the heavily-marketed new version of "Annie."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT'S A HARD KNOCK LIFE")

QUVENZHANE WALLIS: (Singing, as Annie) It's a hard knock life for us. It's a hard knock life for us.

BLAIR: With both "Annie" and "Night At The Museum 3," most people will probably wait for the DVD or streaming release. Doug Creutz, an analyst with Cowen and Company, says yes, the holidays are a good time to release a movie because kids are out of school, but parents don't need theaters to keep their kids occupied.

DOUG CREUTZ: Hand them the iPad - don't have to worry about them for the next three hours.

BLAIR: Creutz points out that this summer when kids were out of school, the box office was down about 20 percent. He says even when all of the stars align, there's no guarantee a movie will do well. Take "How To Train Your Dragon 2," released this summer by DreamWorks.

CREUTZ: "Dragon," you know, they made some nice money on, but given how good it was and given that they had zero competition in the animation business for the whole summer, you know, the fact that it couldn't even get to $200 million in the domestic box office - that's frightening.

BLAIR: In terms of animation, there are two major releases competing for business this holiday season, "Big Hero 6," which is doing well...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BIG HERO 6")

SCOTT ADSIT: (As Baymax) On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?

BLAIR: And "Penguins Of Madagascar," a spinoff of a successful franchise.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) What's our trajectory?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) 95 percent certain we're still doomed.

BLAIR: It's not doing as well as expected. When "Penguins" didn't for fly at the box office over Thanksgiving, DreamWorks' stock took a dive. One theory - the studio isn't keeping up with increased competition. This year's top animated movies, "Lego" from Warner Bros., and "Big Hero 6" from Disney, were fresh and original says Creutz.

CREUTZ: Really, I mean DreamWorks is still making the same movie they made 10 years ago.

BLAIR: Big studios like DreamWorks hope they can at least make some money from foreign markets.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (Speaking Russian, as character).

BLAIR: "Penguins Of Madagascar" did really well when it was released in Russia. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

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