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  • Directed By: Chris Butler
  • Written By: Chris Butler
  • Release Date: April 12, 2019
  • Domestic Distributor: United Artists Releasing
  • Cast: Hugh Jackman, David Walliams, Stephen Fry, Zach Galifianakis

Box Office Info:
Budget: $100 million (estimated)Financed by: Laika
Domestic Gross: $16,649,539Overseas Gross: Still in release

missing link 2019
Missing Link was the fifth feature from the fantastic stop-motion animation house Laika, which scored a solid hit with their inaugural feature Coraline (2009) and then saw diminishing returns on their follow up pictures ParaNorman (2012), The Boxtrolls and Kubo and the Two Strings.  Laika had a distribution arrangement for all of their movies at Universal, which handled most international markets and Focus distributed stateside — but after the $57.8M budgeted Kubo bombed globally, Laika’s CEO Travis Knight wanted more control over the international rollout.  A deal was brokered with fledgling distributor Annapurna Pictures to handle the domestic release and AGC International was hired to handle sales to overseas distributors.

AGC International was the newly formed sales company from IM Global’s founder Stuart Ford, who was forced out of his own company in 2017 and then launched AGC.  Missing Link was the first movie to be handled by AGC and it was unveiled at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival to buyers after the production had been well underway.  AGC and Travis Knight announced to buyers that this was the biggest production yet from Laika and the Missing Link budget would be a pricey $100 million.   If that number was inflated to drive up sales, the actual production expenses will eventually be posted from the Oregon Film Commision.  If that nine-figure budget estimate turns out to resemble the actual cost, Missing Link will go down as one of the biggest flops ever.

It was announced in Feb 2019 that Annapurna would form a joint distribution company with MGM and Orion that would revive the United Artists label and Missing Link would go out through UA.  It was first dated for April 19, 2019 but pushed forward a week to April 12.  In a marketplace oversaturated with CG animated fare, these have been dark days for the commercial play of stop-motion films.  Recent box office disasters were Kubo and Early Man and Isle Of Dogs did mediocre business, though that was hardly aimed at children.  Missing Link‘s demographic skewed younger than their usual pics and the market was yet again overflowing with competitive family fare — Shazam! opened the week prior; Dumbo opened two weeks earlier; Captain Marvel, Wonder Park and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World were still in wide release.

Missing Link was given a very strong promotional blitz in the US, with $30.76M spent on TV ads (as per iSpotTV) and after other advertising and distribution expenses are factored in, the domestic P&A costs were at least $45M.  Despite the aggressive ad push, Missing Link was tracking for a soft $10M opening weekend.  Reviews were positive and it bowed against another family title Little, the remake of Hellboy and After. 

Missing Link was dead on arrival with $5,944,950 — placing #9 for the weekend led by Shazam!.  There was a modest 30.1% decline in attendance to $4,157,285 in its second frame, but it collapsed 74.4% the following weekend to $1,065,666 when Avengers: Endgame claimed most of the box office to itself.  The domestic run closed with an awful $16,649,539.  About $9.1M would be returned after theaters take their percentage of the gross.

Missing Link has been released in most of its major markets overseas and has done atrocious business.  The current cume sits at $8M with $4M from the UK comprising most of the gross.  Remaining markets are set to open throughout the rest of 2019.  More when (or if) Missing Link continues to rollout theatrically…

17 Comments

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  1. United Artists is spending a lot of money on an Oscar campaign, I believe with the intention of disguising the box office disaster.

  2. Looked like one of their worst films yet. Not surprised it bombed. Animation seems to be having a hard time at the box office this year so far outside of How to Train Your Dragon 3.

  3. I don’t think spending tons of money on marketing is going to fix the problem. The issue of why these movies don’t sell all that well is because of the stop motion. It’s just an animation style that just doesn’t have big appeal as much as people want. Stop motion works best for like scary movies or Gothic horror like The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s unnatural animation style is perfect for something creepy or something stiff like plastic and that won’t appeal to a lot of people especially kids. I don’t think it’s inherently bad for this or say Kubo and the Two Strings but they would make more money if those movies were just 3D animation. Like I doubt those movies needed to be stop motion to begin with honestly.

    • Travis Knight is the son of Nike’s founder. Basically, their billions bankroll the company.

  4. “Recent box office disasters were Kubo and Early Man and Isle Of Dogs did mediocre business, though that was hardly aimed at children.”

    That sentence is poorly worded, and has improper grammar. Here’s my revised version of that sentence.

    “Recently both Kubo and Early man were box office disasters. While Isle of Dogs did mediocrely at the box office (though that film wasn’t directly aimed at children)”

    • There is no need for a full stop before the Isle of Dogs comment. You could have just put in a comma. Also, it’s “did mediocre”, not “mediocrely”.

  5. It’s a real shame that this flopped. I think that the release date was one of the big reasons why it didn’t do so well. It had a lot of competition and I think that releasing it in the fall would’ve been a better move. (Then again, DreamWorks is releasing Abominable in the fall. What’s up with all these Bigfoot and yeti movies all of a sudden?) If I had to guess as to what made Missing Link more expensive than their other movies, it’s probably due to the well-known voice cast as well as more of a reliance on CG in order to clean up some things such as backgrounds. I really enjoyed this movie and I hope that more people check it out down the line but I wish the best for Laika and will be there day one for whatever their next project is.

  6. I’m really hoping that $100M budget isn’t true. The majority of Laika’s films hovered around the $60-70M range for their production budgets, and I assumed Missing Link was the same. I can’t understand what made the budget inflate from their usual fare.

    Do you happen to have a source of the budget claim, perhaps? Until now it seemed like the budget for the film was a mystery.

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