Can Wallace & Gromit Conquer America?

On October 7th, Wallace & Gromit finally come to the big screen with the film everybody’s been waiting for, THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT. It’ll probably open at around $50-60 million on its way to becoming the most successful stop motion film of all time.

What’s that you say? “Who are Wallace and Gromit?” Bloody Americans. I swear if it’s not made by Pixar, starring a Green Ogre or singing songs by Danny Elfman you’re just clueless.

See, here’s the thing… cheese-loving inventor Wallace and his super-smart, silent canine Gromit are an international sensation. They’ve starred in three short films. All were nominated for Oscars, with two of them winning. And if you haven’t seen THE WRONG TROUSERS or A CLOSE SHAVE, then you’ve missed the best family films Pixar never made.

I hesitate to give W&G the stigma of being just“family films”. By that I don’t mean the stigma where “family film” is code for “visual babysitter”. The films of W&G (and their studio Aardman Animation) are great entertainment, no matter what your age.
Back in 2000, Aardman released the summer blockbuster CHICKEN RUN, earning nearly $225 million. That film received a huge marketing push and a plum summer release date. While Wallace & Gromit are recognized the world over, since they have only appeared in short films, they remain largely cult icons over here.

So far, reviews have been steller , but expectations for the film are alarmingly low. (The studio projects a $14 million opening weekend and a total domestic gross of around $65 million.) Dreamworks has done little to market the film outside of families and the duo’s already fanatic fan base. They seem comfortable hoping for a moderate success, when in truth this long-awaited project should be treated like a third TOY STORY film.

I hope that I’m proven wrong and Americans turn out in force to support what should be one of the most entertaining films of the year. My fingers are crossed.


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