'Delgo' Flop Highlights Risks For Outsiders
By Robert Marich
Dec. 18 2008 – A tech-industry tycoon thought that he saw a void in the children’s animation movie business and stepped up with his own $40 million production of Delgo. It’s sounds like the start of a fairy tale story, but this one has an unhappy ending. Delgo – which was reportedly supported by a $20 million theatrical marketing campaign – is one of the all-time bombs at the box office.
“I was hoping that Delgo would rupture the formula for animated movies and help our culture break free from the homogenization of kids movies that are full of talking animals with big eyes,” Marc Adler, who directed, funded and produced the film, told the Wall Street Journal. “I’m befuddled.”
The animated fantasy, with celebrity voices of Jennifer Love Hewitt and Val Kilmer, grossed just $511,920 over the weekend at 2,160 theaters, for an abysmal $237 per theater. Bad is usually considered $1,000 per theater for a wide release. Freestyle Releasing was the distributor.
Marketing to Moviegoers: Second Edition notes if a film project can’t attract mainstream Hollywood financing, it signals that pros who make a living in movies don’t think the project is marketable. They’re not always right, of course. It can be added that audiences like Hollywood’s homogenized nonsense, which is entertaining.
The WSJ article by Lauren A. E. Schuker also says: “Mr. Adler blames the movie’s poor performance on its marketing, which he supervised, and says he was too focused on making the film appeal to children. ‘We thought we were doing everything right, focusing on kids,’ he says, ‘but we missed the moms.’ Most of the television spots for the film ran on child-focused channels, like Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, and ABC Family.”
Marketing to Moviegoers would respond with two observations: First, aiming the TV ads at kids was the right thing to do, because excited kids will nag their parents to take them to the movie. The second comment – which applies to newcomers who seem to want to re-invent the movie business -- is this famous quote by impressionist artist Edgar Degas: “Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do.”
The movie was produced by Atlanta-based Fathom Studios, a division of Adler’s design and technology consulting firm Macquarium Intelligent Communications.
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