Alright, here's the deal right now. Kubo and the Two Strings is looking to be a flop, having not even recouped its budget after a month of release. Chances are, if you're reading this you've THOUGHT about seeing it. You're a groovy nerd who can appreciate some retro stop-motion animation, maybe you even have Coraline on DVD (even though you lost those wonky 3D-glasses years ago). But it's so clutch that any and all decent human beings who give even the TINIEST crap about thoughtful and artistic films for kids give this throwback to Jim Henson-level sincerity a shot. Make plans, grab friends, IT'S GENUINELY THAT GOOD.
There is one caveat to this experience and that's the trailers before the film. As a prelude to the moving tale of love, family, loss, and creation you are subjected to an onslaught of candy-colored trailers that seem to be almost parodys of the kind of commoditized cgi-animated kids fare that exists solely to shut up spastic pre-schoolers for 80-90 glorious, silent minutes. Not saying these things don't have a place, but it's depressing to think about JUST how much BANK these movies are going to rake in. Mopping the floor with Kubo and pissing on the shattered remains.
Here's 6 Stupid kids movies that will definitely make more than Kubo and The Two Strings.
Release Date: September 2016
Premise: A straightlaced stork is taught the meaning of friendship and love when he has to deliver a baby despite the objections of his corporate overlords.
Why it's going to suck: Would you believe that this is Warner Bros. Animation's follow up to The Lego Movie? It's a mish mash of every bad cgi film ever made. It's got literal angry birds, a swarm of tiny pint-sized non-verbal side characters, and an original song by Jason Derulo that sounds like somebody needed a less-controversial version of Pharrel's "Happy" . Also, I don't know what kind of screenwriting gymnastics they had to do to completely divorce the ideas of "failed baby deliveries" and "miscarraiges" but it better be PRETTY good.
Why it's going to make ALL the money: It's 2016, you literally cannot lose money with CGI animated talking animals. It doesn't matter, nothing matters. Everything about this movie has been engineered to assure its intended audience "don't worry parents, this movie will GET THE JOB DONE". This is different from Kubo and the Two Strings, where you could tell the filmmakers had a message and tone they felt was missing from mainstream western animation and hoped to be rewarded for branching out.
Release Date: August 2017
Premise: Inside your smartphone, the emojis you know and love all live together in harmony until... SOMETHING happens.
Why it's going to suck: Everyone thought that this was a joke when it was first announced by Sony Pictures. Surely, SURELY we as a society haven't become so bankrupt that we were going to make a whole movie about the utilitarian unicode symbols we use for texting? It's a stopgap measure leftover from the flip-phone days, one that's rapidly losing neccesity as more phones switch to all-digital messaging that doesn't even need to stick to standard emojis. ON TOP OF THAT, emojis look different on different phones anyway, so it's not like there's a universal beloved design that people actually care about. I genuinely believe this entire picture was pitched as a dare and everyone involved was too coked up to back down.
Why it's going to make ALL the money: The one character design revealed so far is a stupid yellow thing. If you want to make real cheddar in the movie industy, then make sure your kids movie has a stupid yellow thing. Whereas in Kubo and the Two Strings, instead of Minion knock-offs, there's an expressive Snow Monkey whose quiet desperation you can see behind her steely-cold demeanor.
Release Date: December 2016
Premise: In a world populated by anthropomorphic animals who have formed a society many would describe as "Zootopia with infinitely less thought involved", a struggling theater owner starts a singing contest that captures the imaginations of the various denizens who wish to share their previously unappreciated talents with the world.
Why it's going to suck: Not particularly mad at this one, but everything about this movie screams "autopilot". From the celebrity cast looking to beef up their singing credentials to the cheap and easy animals/ethnicity parralels, to the reliance on international pop songs. It's another talking animal movie that won't make any waves and might leave you entertained on a long flight.
Why it's going to make ALL the money: The whole plot is about dissatisfied characters looking to a singing contest to solve all their lives' problems. It's basically a winning formula that hasn't left television for 15 years. Plus, unlike Kubo and the Two Strings, at no point in the movie does one of the main villains stab their sister in the side with a gnarly sickle chain.
Release Date: November 2016
Premise: After Troll Town is attacked by ravenous monsters who wish to devour the titular fuzzy heroes, it's up to a pair of unlikely partners to save their friends.
Why it's going to suck: Troll dolls are the weirdest franchise in the world. What were once unsettlingly nude wooden knick-knacks by a Dutch carpenter soon became a global toy phenomenon that floated through waves of popluarity since the 1960s. For decades toy manufacturers freely made the cheap dolls without anybody able to enforce the copyrights but DreamWorks finally got the exclusive rights in 2013. Why am I telling you this story? Because that's why this movie exists. It's a toy tie-in for a new, hip Troll franchise where the faces are less creepy and now they have distinct personalities instead of exposed buttocks.
Why it's going to make ALL the money: You know what else was a cheap Flemish toy franchise of interchangable goobers? The SMURFS. And you know what made boatloads of raw cash in American theaters solely out of cheap nostalgia and the ever-present need for disposable kids movies? THE GODDAMN SMURFS. You know what doesn't make money? Japanese folklore pastiches that push the capabilities of the dying artform of stop-motion animation like Kubo and the Two Strings.
Release Date: March 2017
Premise: A seven-year old boy is jealous of his fast-talking, briefcase carrying baby brother. While trying to win back his parent's affections he stumbles across an evil corporate plot and the two brothers must team up to stop it.
Why it's going to suck: This movie was adapted from a children's book that made the clever observation that caring for a baby can somtimes be as thankless and dehumanizing as corporate wage-slavery, SOOOO FUN! Alec Baldwin plays the titular baby in a performance that I'm sure he'll deliver with the same gravitas and confidence he brings to the finest CapitalOne credit card commercials. Why do all these corporate-produced kids movies hate corporation so much? You'd think they'd want young kids to WANT to compromise their visions for the sake of profits, planting the seeds for the next generations of filmmakers. Also -1,000,000 points for the continued use of "Dreamworks Eyebrow" in the poster.
Why it's going to make ALL the money: Family movies are less about quality and more about scheduling. Studios constantly shuffle their slates around like chess pieces looking for vulnerable weekends where there's little-to-no-competition for those parental bucks. The Boss Baby's release date has jumped around so much that it's basically the film equivalent of a crushed granola bar in a suburban mom's purse, something to be mindlessly consumed when the timing is just right. The scheduling thing is basic Hollywood wisdom, unless you're Kubo and the Two Strings which debuted without any real challenges on its opening weekend and still struggled to find an audience despite unanimous critical praise.
Release Date: June 2017
Premise: Lightning McQueen is forced to leave competitive motorsports with the arrival of new high-tech racers. To get his groove back he teams up with a quirky young mechanic and learns some lessons on the open road.
Why it's going to suck: It's a well-known secret that Pixar doesn't particularly CARE about the Cars franchise, but continue to return to the series due to its incredible profitibility and massive merchandising empire. Cars 2 is widely considered to be the studio's first/only genuine stinker and unless the entire cast holds hands as they accept death in a furnace, it's unlikely it'll reach the same emotional heights of Toy Story 3.
Why it's going to make ALL the money: IT'S. CARS. 3. Could you possibly think of a more profitible title for a movie? This would have defnitely helped Kubo and the Two Strings attract more ticket sales, if they just retitled the movie "Cars 3" and hoped nobody sued. Then imagine all the millions of people who were tricked into seeing it and would have been able to enjoy a mythical adventure and celebration of the human capacity for storytelling. It would have been grand.
Thank you for listening to this breakdown of the state of modern children's animation by a blogger who felt bored enough to share his feelings. If you just scrolled to the bottom here's the TL:DR