What Went Wrong With Dreamworks’ ‘Mr. Peabody and Sherman’

What Went Wrong With Dreamworks' 'Mr. Peabody and Sherman'

Dreamworks Animation Studios has just announced that it will take a $57 million loss on last month’s feature film, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which was based off of the short bits from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show that aired back in the 1960s. The film was actually a success at the box office, hitting the number one spot in the United States in its second week. It also received mostly positive reviews from critics, with many calling it “solid family entertainment.” It also received a 79 percent approval rating on the film-rating website, Rotten Tomatoes. So what went wrong with the movie?

Dreamworks just posted total earnings of $280.8 million worldwide from its movie profits. However, with a budget of $145 million, the studio took a loss of $57 million on Mr. Peabody and Sherman.  Even though the movie hit number one for a brief moment in March, and was well-received by critics, it still did not do as well as Dreamworks had hoped. Mr. Peabody and Sherman was a kid-friendly movie with witty banter, abundant action, history lessons and an awkward kid romance. It taught good moral lessons on the problems with bullying, the importance of telling the truth and the power of parent-child relationships, no matter how unique. It had cartoon characters that children could get to know, relate to and get behind. Most importantly, children’s parents or grandparents would remember Mr. Peabody and Sherman from their childhoods and the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show in the early 1960s, and they were likely the ones paying for tickets. So where did Dreamworks go wrong in making a film like this? What exactly went wrong with it that caused the studio to take such a loss?

Mr. Peabody and Sherman was a strange mix of a film. The characters catered to an older audience; only fans of the old 1960s short films would know who they were. However, the general script of the film catered to a generally younger audience, using a lot of teen and young adult slang and phrases. The themes and the ideas in the movie were family friendly. Some of the jokes were purposefully really bad, which as anyone who knows about the original shorts knows, is characteristic of Mr. Peabody anyway. There were also some chuckles and a little bit of laugh-out-loud humor, though. Some of the jokes were more in line with the adult audience, though, and would quickly fly over a kid’s head.

With this weird fusion of elements, its easy to see why maybe people would be confused and skip the movie. Kids did not know who Mr. Peabody and Sherman were. Adults thought it was a kid’s movie. These factors contributed to Dreamworks ultimately taking a loss on a film which was generally well-received.

Another aspect to look at in what went wrong in Mr. Peabody and Sherman is that this movie was Dreamworks’ first animated film to feature characters from its “Classic Media Library” since the company was bought by the studio back in 2012. That is, the first film to feature a cast of not-so-well known characters, which may have contributed to the issue.

Dreamworks, which is known for huge box office successes such as Shrek, has had a hard time at the box office and has suffered several financial losses over the past couple of years. Dreamworks took a charge of $13.5 million earlier this year for the box office flop, Turbo, which set them back a bit. However, an even bigger loss for the studio was the $87 million hit it took last year for Rise of the Guardians, the holiday movie that was a complete dud at the box office. After that, Dreamworks was set back so far that it had to lay off 350 employees. Analysts speculate, however, that Dreamworks will be getting back on its feet with the upcoming How to Train Your Dragon 2, after the huge box office success of the initial How to Train Your Dragon movie.

Opinion by Laura Clark


Entertainment Wise

The Los Angeles Times

11 Responses to "What Went Wrong With Dreamworks’ ‘Mr. Peabody and Sherman’"

  1. Arcadius Benevich   October 18, 2014 at 10:16 am

    If everyone sais screw it it’s a bad joke well heres a litle truth the ones that say that it’s a bad joke are the bad joke cuz the movie is priceless in my eyes it is very educational, entertaining , great for forming , expressing and getting to know new emotions and most of all if you let it it can whip your character into shape an weird shape but a shape non the less and those screwlosses out there should know I don’t give a damn about normal movies or why they’re monotone I care only for the fasinating good thrill stuff. Eat your s……t or whatever if you don’t care.

  2. Crystal Ward   August 26, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    I agree. I was skeptical about watching it, however my children insisted. I have to say, I really enjoyed this film. Perhaps one of my favorites. although some of the jokes went over my children’s heads, they also request the movie quite often. This movie was a joy to watch.

  3. Darin Kobuddy Osborne   August 5, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    It’s really depressing that movies like this stand little chance of being franchised, yet we get a sequel to 21 Jump Street. I honestly had little expectations for Mr. Peabody and Sherman, but when I saw it, I was QUITE pleasantly surprised. In fact, I’d say it’s one of Dreamworks finest.

  4. Caleb   June 14, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    I LOVED this film! Sure I’m only 14 and did not know who MR. Peabody and Sherman where till my grandpa showed me the cartoon and I loved it! Personally I think the voices were perfect! Ty Berrell(voice of Peabody) was busey as Jean Napolian in Muppets Most Wanted and Phil Dunphey in Modern Family but I think he was a perfect Peabody voice. Same with Ariel Winter(voice of Penny Peterson) was also very busey with new episodes of Modern Family as Alex Dunphey but she’s a great actress! She was a perfect Penny!
    Max Charles(voice of Sherman) was excellent.
    Anyway this movie was great and I think that you people who disliked it or thought jokes were inapropriette were pushing it to far! If you just watch this movie you will find out that it is great for kids, teens, and adults!

  5. ramapith   May 17, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Dreamworks’ “first film to feature a cast of not-so-well known characters”? But wait… hasn’t every one of Dreamworks’ own franchises begun with a movie in which—well, kids didn’t know the characters? Shrek, Po the panda, and the Madagascar animals were once unknowns too.

  6. Movie Master   May 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I think the problem was that the movie can out when The Lego Movie was still strong at the box office and Frozen was still extremely popular, so Mr. Peabody and Sherman was at the center of all this. Mr. Peabody and Sherman for sure would of preformed much better if it was released in a less crowded time, but that didn’t happen. Still a great movie though!

  7. Deborah   May 3, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I thought it was great too, but explain to me the math. That is, how can a movie made for $145K that pulls in $250K so far lose???

    • Jeff   May 19, 2014 at 11:43 am

      “K” is thousand, “M” is million.

    • Albert Patrick (@albert5x5)   June 27, 2014 at 1:18 am

      A movie takes about 60-70% of the total box office money, while the theaters take about 30-40%. Then you have to factor in about $40+ million in marketing costs. As a rule of thumb, a movie needs to make a bit over double it’s production costs just to break even.

  8. Red   May 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    I thought the movie was great I don’t know what you guys are smoking

  9. No Name   May 1, 2014 at 2:39 am

    The movie was great! DreamWorks should of tried to familiarise todays audience with the characters and probably should of had more kid jokes than adult jokes.

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