With its victory at the box-office this weekend, Beverly Hills Chihuahua became the latest talking-animal film to experience massive commercial success despite garnering awful reviews. BHC‘s “freshness” rating on rottentomatoes.com is an unripe 42%, and Entertainment Weekly gave the film a “D.”
But it still triumphed over intense competition to be the number one movie in terms of box-office receipts this weekend. BHC may just be the latest example that when it comes to kids movies with talking animals, bad reviews often equal box-office success.
For instance, consider the highest-grossing talking-animal film of all time, according to Box Office Mojo, Alvin and the Chipmunks, with a whopping $217 million in box-office receipts. We’ve heard horror stories from parents who had to suffer through this movie—a feeling no doubt shared by the 75% of Rotten Tomatoes’ critics who disliked the film. Still, kid appeal pushed the flick to a shocking $44 million debut. Likewise, 1996’s 101 Dalmatians scored less than BHC on Rotten Tomatoes (a 38% freshness rating) but it still posted a $33.5 million debut and went on to gross $136 million.
By contrast, better reviewed movies like Cats & Dogs (54%), Stuart Little (66%) and 2006’s Charlotte’s Web (78%), posted disappointingly low box-office revenues opening weekend: $21.7 million, $15 million, and $11.5 million.
So, studio execs, when you’re planning your next kids film, maybe ignore the critics and possibly your own better judgment. It could pay off in the end.
This isn’t a foolproof formula, mind you: Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (oof), scored an 11% freshness rating and just $28 million total at the box office. Worse still, it became a cautionary tale on Entourage this past week. Ari to Vince: Take the Benji movie you were offered and just hope it’s the next Babe..and not Garfield.
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