Happy Feet Two

  • HAPPY FEET TWO box office
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  • Directed By: George Miller
  • Written By: George Miller, Gary Eck, Warren Coleman, Paul Livingston
  • Release Date: November 18, 2011
  • Domestic Distributor: Warner Bros
  • Cast: Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon

Box Office Info:
Budget: $135 million Financed by: Warner Bros; Village Roadshow
Domestic Box Office: $64,006,466 Overseas Box Office: $93,950,000

After the critical and box office success of Happy Feet in 2006, George Miller had two projects in the pipeline — first was his mega-budget Justice League picture and Happy Feet TwoJustice League was in active development, but fell apart after Australian tax rebates were denied and the budget reached exorbitant heights.  Miller then segued from Justice League into Happy Feet Two.

Director George Miller, known for going over budget and over schedule, drove up costs on Happy Feet Two after falling so far behind that Warner Bros sent animation head Chris deFaria and postproduction chief Mark Solomon to Australia to get the film in the can before its release date on November 18.  The budget for Happy Feet Two was reported at $135 million.  The animated sequel was equally co-financed by Warner Bros and Village Roadshow and received a massive 40% tax rebate from Australia.

The Warner Bros marketing machine put their full weight behind the toon and partnered with over 50 global corporations for the international ad spend, with an obscene cost north of $150 million.  Happy Feet Two was dated for the same weekend as its predecessor, but this sequel had the misfortune of being released into a market that was over saturated with family movies.  Puss In Boots was still going strong at the box office and the following weekend Arthur Christmas and The Muppets were opening.

Also hurting its commercial prospects was Happy Feet Two opened against The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I which sucked the air out of the US box office and it also received unenthusiastic reviews.  Tracking was pointing to an opening just north of $30 million, but it came in far below expectations with $21,237,068 — placing a distant #2 for the weekend led by Twilight.  After the disappointing opening weekend the animation company that produced the feature Dr D Studios laid off 600 of its 700 employees.  Happy Feet Two declined a modest 36.9% in its second weekend to $13,397,346 even while fighting off the animated Arthur Christmas and The Muppets, but it was not a strong enough number to break out and it fell 55.8% in its third frame to $5,919,390.  The expensive film pulled in just $64,006,466 in the US.

Happy Feet Two also showed diminishing returns from the first installment overseas (Happy Feet grossed $186.3 million internationally) and it cumed $93.9 million. About $87 million would be returned after theaters take their cut of the gross — leaving much of the expensive marketing spend in the red and the budget at a loss.  Happy Feet Two ended as one of the largest financial disasters on record.

After Happy Feet Two, George Miller entered production on Mad Max: Fury Road — and went massively over-budget and over schedule.  Though that had a successful commercial and critical reception.

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