Have Your Say: What the Hell Happened Here, OOGIELOVES?

Associate Editor, Features; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
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Have Your Say: What the Hell Happened Here, OOGIELOVES?
Know that I am not writing this article with any sort of glee in mind, nor do I hate the film or the people involved. How could I? I haven't seen it yet.
Until today I had never even heard about oogieloves or their movie "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure". There is no escaping social media these days however, so this morning I was quickly confronted by tweets and posts concerning what might just be the most spectacular box-office bomb of, well... maybe the decade?

I'm going to quote Box-Office Mojo because even if their numerical example is perhaps too extreme, you can build in all the buffers you like and STILL end up with a jawdroppingly awful revenue. Read this:

"The movie earned an estimated $445,000 from 2,160 locations this weekend; that tops 2008's Delgo ($511,920) for the worst debut ever for a movie in more than 2,000 theaters. It also had the second-worst per-theater average for a movie in nationwide release at just $206. To put that in perspective, if each location played Oogieloves five times a day on one screen at an average ticket price of $7, that would translate to fewer than two people per showing."

OUCH!!! And this for a film which allegedly cost over 60 million dollars in production and marketing. Right now a lot of people are probably wondering why this was premiered so wide instead of starting with a limited release.

The film is marketed and described as a cross between the Teletubbies (which this shares a producer with, by the way) and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", meaning kids are encouraged to sing along with the film and dance in the cinema. You know the drill: one of the characters has trousers which drop at select moments and then everyone is supposed to sing a song to get them back up again.
But both the Teletubbies and Rocky Horror were shows which each in their own way went what we now call "viral": they transcended any normal measure of good and bad and got an avid gang of fanatical followers. Thing is, it's lovely when your product goes viral but it's damn hard to have it happen on purpose...

The box-office drew my attention but so did the cast list. Believe it or not, this thing has some major names attached: Christopher Lloyd, Chazz Palminteri, Jaimie Pressly, Cary Elwes, Cloris Leachman... hell, even Tony Braxton has a role and though all these people have duds on their resume├ęs there is no arguing they all have done plenty of good things too. Director is Matthew Diamond who has been nominated for Oscar, Emmy and DGA awards. He even won an Emmy for "Outstanding Directing in a Children's Series" once...

So what went wrong here? And not just a bit wrong, but ultra-mega-oogie-doogyliscously catastrophically wrong?

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Matthew DiamondAlex GreeneScott StabileCarol SweeneyKenn ViselmanCloris LeachmanJaime PresslyCary ElwesChristopher LloydAdventureFamilyFantasy
Ard VijnSeptember 3, 2012 7:24 PM

Ehm... does that poster really say: "From the marketing visionary who brought you..."?

MarsHottentotSeptember 3, 2012 9:02 PM

Yeah, that struck me as particularly strange (and ironic), too. I think the resounding word on this is pretty much nobody has ever heard of Oogieloves before this news - I have a three year old who is pretty open with her viewing and I've never heard of it.



Is this based on a TV show? Isn't it aimed at a demographic that have no taste unless it's marketed (read: hammered) directly into their psyches twenty to forty minutes at a clip seven days a week? They can't remember anything unless they see it repeatedly. The advertising for this would have had to have started in early August on Nick Jr. / Cartoon Network / Sprout / Disney and ran at nearly every com break - and probably would have cost a fortune.

A lesson in 'marketing', I suppose.

BucketSeptember 3, 2012 9:26 PM

Nobody knew what it was, I guess. Just looking at the poster and the concept, though, I'm pretty sure it would've killed as a tv show. That would lead to this eventual movie version making zillions. Wrong medium to debut this property.

Todd BrownSeptember 3, 2012 10:31 PM

I would also suggest they forgot to take in one very important consideration: The parents. The people backing this had been successful at television in the past because parents can park their kids in front of a TV and not have to watch. It doesn't matter if parents like The Teletubbies or not, as long as the kids do. That is very definitely NOT the case in movies. The only way kids see anything in the theater is if a parent takes them and if you make something that parents would rather gouge their eyes out then see, then nobody sees it at all. And based on that poster, I'd rather gouge my eyes out than see it. It's definitely the wrong medium, as bucket said, but even if this HAD started on TV it would still fail as a theatrically released movie, the same way the Teletubbies, Barney, etc would fail. The parents fucking hate them.

MarsHottentotSeptember 3, 2012 11:53 PM

Good point. Not that anyone knew that audience participation was encouraged but, from my perspective, that sounds like a complete nightmare scenario and, for a kid that young - a bit of a Pandora's Box. Seriously, you take them to see this movie where they get to act like maniac but, at the next film, you're gonna shush the shit out of them for doing the same thing? Messages have to be consistent when they're at this age. It's a nice, innocent idea, but not one made with a whole lot of forethought, I'm guessing.

Ard VijnSeptember 4, 2012 5:20 AM

There apparently are very strong visual clues in the film for the children to tell them when to act up and when to shut up: butterflies will dance on the screen and that is the clue to start dancing and singing, but when turtles appear everyone should quieten down again and take their seat.
Simple though that concept is, try teaching it to a three-year-old. Results may vary. This would indeed work for a film based on a known TV-show so the kids know all the rules already, but for an original film?
Meanwhile, parents are supposed to bask in warm joy over the fun their children are having.

By the way, this just might get its Rocky Horror fanbase if reviews get any worse and the movie may go viral after all, just not amongst children. This has camp written all over it. I remember watching the first Pokemon movie with friends while very drunk, and especially the Pikachu short in front of it was awesome!!!

Mazinger ZSeptember 4, 2012 5:51 PM

How in the burning hell does one "cross" the Teletubbies and Rocky Horror Picture Show... I mean, that's either some serious creativity or the creator is still tripping out on the drugs he took while making Teletubbies.