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Mr. Peabody and Sherman, on paper, was a financial success. It just barely cracked the top 10 of this year's highest grossing films, after enjoying a surprising five-week run in the top 10 – a run that also saw The LEGO Movie enjoying repeat business around the same time. In reality though, the film incurred a $43 million loss, and continued a trend of "underperforming" pictures that lead to DreamWorks Animation's first quarterly loss in little over a fiscal year. While this might not be the time to panic about the studio's future, this would be the time to bring out the big guns and score an easy home run. Which is exactly what DreamWorks Animation is doing by switching the release dates of its two films: Home and The Penguins Of Madagascar.
The Wrap has announced that Home, which was originally supposed to be released on November 26th, 2014; has been moved to March 27th, 2015 – the original date marked out for the return of the infamous penguins who helped make Madagascar a viable franchise, and have enjoyed animated short and series spin offs. A move like this typically speaks to a studio not being very confident in the product that they're delaying, but I think there's a much clearer motive to the switch. DreamWorks Animation wants to put the sure bet (The Penguins Of Madagascar) on the table so it can make some fast, easy money up front, thus leaving themselves some time to reposition and cushion the untested property in their arsenal.
This is a smart move for several reasons, chiefly that while Home does boast the all star cast of Steve Martin, Jim Parsons, and Rihanna, to mention a few, it isn't a powerful enough title to go up against this year's obvious winner of the Thanksgiving box office, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I. With Catching Fire becoming last year's highest-grossing film, and Jennifer Lawrence's popularity at peak output, the juggernaut that is Katniss Everdeen's war against class warfare is going to be the movie to beat, and all Home really has to show for itself at this point is a charming animated short that was attached to Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Seeing as the studio is already reeling from the accounting ramifications of that film, it obviously can't say that the following short had the marketing impact they had hoped for.
Home looks cute, but cute doesn't win the counter-programming war for parents that want to take their kids to see something a lot less violent and incendiary. No, you need to be cute and cuddly to win the kiddies, and The Penguins Of Madagascar seem to boast the right amount of firepower to be a hit in a time of need. It should also be noted that How To Train Your Dragon 2 also stands to be a sizable hit for DreamWorks Animation in the more immediate future. However, with Rise Of The Guardians and Turbo also coming in with rather light performances, it's best to lead with the bigger dog while further grooming the pup.
Considering The Penguins Of Madagascar has been in the works for a good three years, and has A-list talent like John Malcovich and Benedict Cumberbatch attached to it, it's a safe bet that fans of both actors will be along for the ride as well, which only makes this decision seem like one that should have been made much earlier.
The Penguins Of Madagascar will now be released on November 26th, 2014; with Home now being released on March 27th, 2015. Not that I'm a marketing genius, but perhaps now's a good time to DreamWorks to start pushing some copies of The True Meaning Of Smekday, as well as craft another cute teaser short that elaborates on the Boov and their origins. You know, so kids can actually identify that they want to see the movie, as well as to promote literacy. Who says we can't get some public enrichment out of this?