Wonder Park

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  • Directed By: Dylan Brown (fired and uncredited)
  • Written By: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec
  • Release Date: March 15, 2019
  • Domestic Distributor: Paramount
  • Cast: Jennifer Garner, Kenan Thompson, Mila Kunis, John Oliver

Box Office Info:
Budget: $100 millionFinanced by: Paramount
Domestic Box Office: $45,216,793Overseas Box Office: Still in release

wonder park 2019
Production on Wonder Park began in September 2014 and it was the third project put into production from Paramount Animation after their inaugural feature The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015).  After the success of their first picture, Paramount Animation’s slate was a creative and financial failure.

Their next feature was the animation/live action hybrid trainwreck Monster Trucks, which was delayed for over two years and ended as a $115M write-down.  While Monster Trucks was in release limbo, the fledgling animation division opted to dump their wonderful negative pickup The Little Prince (2016) over to Netflix instead of releasing it.  In July 2017, shortly after the Monster Trucks debacle, the former co-president of Feature Animation at DreamWorks Animation Mireille Soria was hired as President of Paramount Animation to overhaul the department — and while her first order of business was getting three new animated projects into production, she had to see Wonder Park to completion and also the sequel that nobody asked for Sherlock Gnomes (2018).  The Gnome production was greenlit after Wonder Park, but it was released first, while Wonder was being bounced around the calendar.

Paramount announced in March 2017 that the studio had plans to launch a Wonder Park TV series about one year after the theatrical run.  The studio wanted to focus on cross promotional platforms for a lot of their projects with other divisions under the Viacom umbrella — MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Comedy Central, BET and the Paramount Network.  The corporate synergy between Paramount and Nickelodeon would help build Wonder Park into a brand and the announcement of the series would give extra attention to the feature and vice versa.

The budget for Wonder Park was $100 million and fully financed by Paramount.   It was first dated for March 22, 2019 — but then moved it forward to July 13, 2018, then it was bumped to August 10, 2018 and pushed back into 2019 again for a March 15 release.  On January 30, 2018 Paramount announced that they fired director Dylan Brown after multiple women accused him of “inappropriate and unwanted conduct.”  Wonder Park was nearly completed at this point and the studio opted not to replace him and there was no credited director on the finished film.  In the light of accusations against actor Jeffrey Tambor, Paramount decided to dump his recorded voice work in June 2018 and replaced him with Ken Hudson Campbell.

Four and a half years after production began, Wonder Park was gearing up for release and Paramount was bullish on turning this into a franchise.  The studio landed numerous promotional partners and launched a full toy line from Funrise.  Paramount did not land a major fast food chain for a tie-in, so they went with Ovation Brands, which was willing to shill Wonder Park across their numerous vomitoriums – Old Country Buffet, Ryan’s, HomeTown Buffet and Furr’s Fresh Buffet.  Paramount also aided the release with an expensive marketing blitz, spending $32.37M on TV ads (as per iSpotTV) and domestic P&A costs were certainly north of $45M.

Despite the aggressive promotional push, Wonder Park was tracking poorly and was expected to pull in $10M – $14M.  It bowed against Five Feet Apart and Captive State and landed mixed to poor reviews.  Wonder Park also opened into a market saturated with family fare — Captain Marvel was released just one week earlier, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World opened three weeks prior, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part was entering its fifth frame and Dumbo was set for release in two weeks.

Wonder Park managed to open above estimates with $15,853,646 — placing #2 for the weekend led by Captain Marvel. There was a 44.7% second frame decline to $8,761,117 and it dropped 42.8% to $5,011,027 in its third session.  The domestic run closed at $45,216,793.

Wonder Park has also disappointed in most overseas markets, where it currently sits at $67.8M.  Almost all markets have been exhausted and it will likely pull in another $5M tops.  Poland is set to open mid May.  More as the numbers come in…

7 Comments

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  1. I am pretty sure Wonder Park is no longer playing in theaters internationally. The Box Office Mojo page hasn’t been updated for months. The movie has grossed $74,342,317 in the international markets, according to the site. So the movie has a total of $119.6 million worldwide, which means Paramount got around $60 million when theaters take their cut of the gross, enough to cover the P&A spend but leaving most of the $100 million budget in the red.

  2. When Rango was a box office success when it came out in 2011 and when DreamWorks Animation’s contract was close to expiring, Paramount formed their animation division in July 2011. It is surprising that their 1st feature film was successful but their follow-up pictures including this flopped. What will happen to their animation department?

    • Paramount Animation will go on as normal. As said in this article, Mireille Soria greenlit 3 new films: The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge, Monster on the Hill, and Luck. She didn’t approve this film; it was Brad Grey, the head of Paramount from 2006 up until his death in 2017. Her slate of movies will probably have more appeal to audiences than Monster Trucks, Sherlock Gnomes, and Wonder Park. So as far as I know, the studio will continue to make animated movies.

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