For anyone who thought I was off my nut when I extolled the virtues of How To Train Your Dragon (HTTYD) back on April 25, 2010 and touted it as a possible Oscar nominee, it seems I have been at least partially vindicated by an article that ran in today’s Variety. (And no one disputes the legitimacy of Variety…right?)
"Today marks the halfway point for the calendar year, which in theory means that half of the 2010 awards contenders will have opened.
This is why they call it the Dream Factory.
Though the studios in recent years have found success by opening films in "unpopular" months ("Taken" in January, "District 9" in August, et al.), the majors and indies are generally sticking to the old timetable by hoarding kudos hopefuls until the last part of the year.
So, in an annual bid to shame distribs into acknowledging that the January through June period can be fruitful — Summit’s "Hurt Locker" bowed in June last year — here is a look at what’s opened in the first half of the year. As usual, there was good work, but the glass is less than half full.
With AMPAS and the Producers Guild increasing their best pic nominations to 10 last year, "Up" broke out of the toon ghetto. So might DreamWorks Animation’s "How to Train Your Dragon" and Disney-Pixar’s "Toy Story 3" follow in its footsteps? Neither is a sure bet, but they are more likely best-pic fodder than live-action releases to date.
However, there was terrific work, particularly the performances, in the Leonardo DiCaprio-Martin Scorsese "Shutter Island" (Paramount), Music Box’s "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and Roadside Attractions’ "Winter’s Bone." Otherwise, there have been strong contributions in various categories like tech/craft/design (everything from Disney’s "Alice in Wonderland" to Universal’s "Robin Hood") and music (Janet Jackson’s tune from Lionsgate’s "Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too" and Summit’s "Twilight Saga: Eclipse," though the Academy’s music branch seems to avoid popular songs).**
**HTTYD should have been mentioned in this category as well, imho.
In addition to the animated "Dragon" and "Toy Story 3," there was DWA-Par’s "Shrek Forever After"; other feature-toon possibilities coming up include "Despicable Me" (Universal); "The Illusionist" (from "Triplets of Belleville’s" Sylvain Chomet, Sony Pictures Classics); "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole" (WB); DreamWorks Animation’s "Megamind"; "Tales from Earthsea" (made by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Disney); "Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil" (Weinstein); "My Dog Tulip" (Apparition); "Alpha and Omega" (Lionsgate), and "Tangled" (Disney).Under Academy rules, if all 13 bow this year, that’s enough for three Oscar nominees; if 16 toons open, that would mean five."
I’ll post updates as I see them (and more critics and pundits see the light.) HTTYD has officially become Dreamworks Animation’s highest grossing "non-Shrek" animated film. It is also, according to Box Office Mojo, on a par to outgross Saving Private Ryan for highest grossing film of any kind from Dreamworks (even though technically DWA is separate from Dreamworks SKG, but we won’t quibble.)
As of this date, HTTYD is still in theaters and is still making money, even though its "measly" $43 million opening had critics and B.O. watchers crying gloom and doom. In fact, as of last week, again according to Box Office Mojo, it had regained some theaters. This movie is the perfect example of a film that has "LEGS"; probably some of the longest and strongest legs in recent memory. (Not counting Avatar, of course. Avatar is an anomaly, an aberration and should not be compared to anything.) Word of mouth over marketing has made this film a success, because it deserves to be. Unless you’ve got small children, I’ll wager you didn’t see Kung Fu Panda more than once. I didn’t feel the need to see Shark Tale or Over the Hedge at all, and I certainly didn’t add them to my dvd collection, which I will definitely be doing when HTTYD is released. It’s just that good.
Bottom line for this post? Once again I say, don’t count it out come Oscar time. (You heard it here first folks. LOL)