Families fickle over computer-animated animal pics

Tue Aug 3, 2010 2:52am EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Fox was weeks away from releasing "Marmaduke" in June when a dubious reporter asked a studio executive about prospects for the family comedy.

"I have learned never to bet against any dog movie," the executive mused.

The optimism was understandable considering Fox's $143 million domestic success with 2008's "Marley and Me." But unlike that holiday hit, summer's dancing-dog comedy was a live action and CGI hybrid of the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" species.

No problem-o, right? After all, the 'munks rang up a combined $447 million domestically for Fox with two family comedies.

Problem-oh: "Marmaduke" fetched less than $33 million after costing $50 million to produce.

But as with some other recent furry-creatures missteps -- including the past weekend's "Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore" -- industryites suggest the picture's creative problems were specific to "Marmaduke" and not the genre.

"'Garfield' was very early in the talking-furry-creatures trend and also was very successful for us," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder noted. "'Marmaduke' didn't work as much as we would have liked, but I don't think it's a problem with the genre."

Warner Bros.'s "Kitty Galore" coughed up a $12.3 million furball from its first three days. But again, Monday-morning quarterbacks blamed the $85 million project rather than its concept.   Continued...