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Rediff.com  » Movies » Spielberg dominates world movie scene with Tintin, Puss in Boots

Spielberg dominates world movie scene with Tintin, Puss in Boots

October 31, 2011 11:53 IST
A scene from The Adventures of TintinSteven Spielberg dominated the world movie scene this weekend with The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, which he directed, being the number one film in the world (it will open in North America and India in late December), and Puss in Boots, which was produced by his company DreamWorks, opening at number one in North America.

Tintin, which is showing in 19 markets including France and Belgium (where the Herge comics on which it is based are enormously popular) and the UK, minted a strong $55.8 million in five days according to distributors Paramount and Sony. Whether the movie, which reportedly cost $175 million to make, will be a mega hit depends on how it will play in North America and many other countries including Japan, South Korea, China and Brazil, Argentina and Mexico where the comics are not widely known.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Sony and Paramount will spend more than $100 million to market and release the 3D movie worldwide, and about 30 per cent of Tintin's revenue will go directly to Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson, the man behind the enormously popular The Lord of the Rings movies.

To break even, Tintin has to earn over $500 million worldwide in theatres and DVD/Blu-ray sales and other ancillary markets.

(In a rare Hollywood happening, Spielberg will have another film, a very different work, Warhorse, a sentimental story with a war background, in the market in December. And that means both films could be nominated for top Oscars, with Tintin in the animation film category.)

The principal producer for Tintin is Peter Jackson. The roles will be reversed when the sequel is made next year.

Tintin received mixed to good reviews, but many Spielberg films, including the last installment of Indiana Jones, have done robust business worldwide despite lukewarm or indifferent reviews.

'Herge's resourceful young Belgian reporter comes to the big screen in a film…. (with) the expensive, rather tiresome digital process that exists in a no-man's-land between live action and animation,' wrote the British daily The Guardian. 'It starts well in a charming 1930s Brussels before Tintin (Jamie Bell) goes in pursuit of three hidden manuscripts that will lead him to ancient treasures… It resembles a conflation of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pirates of the Caribbean with John Williams's music always on the point of bursting into the Indiana Jones triumphal march.'

The final verdict? ' It's fairly enjoyable, rather bland, less fun dramatically and graphically than the Herge comics,' wrote The Guardian.

The studios decided to launch the Peter Jackson-produced film so far ahead of its US debut on December 21 in part to boost ticket sales in Europe, where the 82-year-old Belgian comic book series is a beloved part of the cultural history. If the film is successful abroad, the studios will use that success to create a strong buzz for the film in America and Canada, as well as Central and South America. Its distributor also said in a statement that the film was given a big break in Europe many weeks before its arrival in America because of several days of school holidays in many countries.

A scene from Puss in BootsThough Puss in Boots was the number one film of the week in North America, its weekend gross of $34 million was certainly disappointing. The film could have made 10 per cent more, trade analysts believe, had it not been for the blizzard which severely disrupted life in America's northeastern states. Even then, the film is doing well abroad.

According to the trade publication The Hollywood Reporter, it set records for an animation title in Russia ($15 million from 700 locations).

Family friendly films such as Smurfs and Cars 2 have more than doubled domestic box office receipts abroad. With a $17 million gross in Russia and a handful of small territories such as the Philippines, Puss was the weekend's number two title overall outside North America.

Arthur J Pais in New York