Pixar, of course, is a major brand in computer-generated cartoons. Its major competition is DreamWorks Animation (NYSE: DWA). The latter's most recent hit, Kung Fu Panda, opened earlier this summer box-office season with a $60.2 million first-weekend take, according to Boxofficemojo. Last year, Ratatouille debuted with a first-weekend take of $47 million. In my mind, for Wall-E to please shareholders and show Disney that its Pixar brand is a reliable money machine, the animated feature needs to do at least $60 million. It can't do anywhere near the Ratatouille flick since that was an example of weak opening performance, in my opinion.
I read a great review on Wall-E at the Hollywood Reporter. The author heaps praises on the film and says that Pixar's streak of success is intact. That's pretty pleasing. Yet, the review also worries me to some extent (I'm a Disney shareholder). The author says that there isn't a lot of dialogue in the picture (I guess the robot characters don't speak) and that it might be such a smart project that some moviegoers might not fully appreciate it. In this competitive timeframe, that doesn't make me feel good. I'd rather the film be simple blockbuster material for the popcorn crowd. I don't want the young kids in the audience to feel their attention spans being strained in the least. I'm not looking for art in this case. I just want my company to make as much money as possible.
Will Wall-E be number one this weekend, beating out the likes of Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX) Get Smart and General Electric's (NYSE: GE) Universal picture Wanted? Without a doubt, Wall-E will rise to the top of the multiplex charts. But will it make $60 million? I have my doubts. Considering Ratatouille's box-office performance in its opening days, and the fact that, from my own anecdotal checks, there doesn't seem to be a huge interest yet in the Wall-E merchandise, I wouldn't be surprised if the sci-fi cartoon ends up with a lower haul.
Disclosure: I own Disney and GE; positions can change at any time.