'Astro' Flop: Not True To Core Audience

By Robert Marich
   Oct. 25, 2009 –Astro Boy bombs its opening weekend at the box office, which should be no surprise because the content of $65 production is disconnected from its intended audience. Marketing common sense was missing in shaping the film in the script phase. The computer-generated animated film presents disturbing family relationship for kids and – in what is usually a death wish for mainstream cinema – delivers some political messages.
   The Summit Entertainment release generated a weak $6.5 million for the three-day weekend, despite being well crafted film work and opening broadly at over 3,000 theaters. It ranks six in its opening weekend as a premiere behind four holdovers.
   In my opinion, Astro Boy in script phase was a marketing train wreck. Two of the film’s children characters are rejected by the parents, which is a turnoff to younger audiences and their parents. And there's more that is harrowing to youngsters in this PG rated film. “There’s something pretty disturbing about a kid flick in which the young hero dies several tragic deaths and gets repeatedly resurrected,” says the New York Daily News review.
   At other junctures, the movie attempts to make political statements that are a muddle.  Notes the Chicago Tribune review by Christy Lemire “The Dick Cheney-like president (says) ‘I've got an election to win and I need my robot to be a fighter, not a lover.”… Yeah, it’s not a terribly subtle political metaphor.”
   The machinations of the evil politician character will go over the heads of children and the entire movie won’t appeal to adults, so it’s just a waste.
   Fanboy reviews were kinder to the film for being true to the source material – a 1951 Japanese cartoon series -- and having an edge. But the Astro Boy movie is just too juvenile to pull sophisticated audiences--the fanboys. At the core, it’s a kiddie movie that I don’t think adult comic audiences will bother with. Its dead-on-arrival opening weekend indicates that.
   For movies to be successful, they have to pull their core audiences opening weekend. Titanic opened strong with the youth audience, but it wasn't until later weeks that it also pulled in adults who became curious about the media heat. Few films instantly attract numerous audiences segment opening weekend.
   Astro Boy was produced by ambitious Hong Kong cartoon factory Imagi and, according to press reports, experienced a financial panic early this year from running out of money until being re-financed.

For full text, click link below: