Wild Slide for DreamWorks Shares

In the new Bizarro world of box office analysis, apparently a $61 million dollar opening is considered disappointing. While any live-action film would be praised for garnering such returns right out of the gate, DreamWorks’ Madagascar failed to deliver the kind of Shrek cha-ching that investors were hoping for, causing shares in DreamWorks Animation SKG to drop by nearly 10% on Tuesday.

Though Madagascar is on par with DreamWorks’ most recent hit, Shark Tale, it came up a few strokes short of previous Memorial Day weekend animated releases. Last year, Shrek 2 scooped up close to $96 million over the four-day period, surpassing the $70 million earned by Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo in 2003.

The fact remains that Madagascar did quite well in the shadow of George Lucas’ mega-blockbuster, Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Though the sci-fi/fantasy pic is rated PG-13, screenings have been full of much younger kids. That missing segment of Madagascar’s target audience should gravitate to the animated pic over the next couple weeks, giving it legs much like ones on Melman, the giraffe.

Great expectations set DreamWorks Animation back a bit earlier this year when home video sales of Shrek 2 fell shy of projections. The studio now has to work even harder to catch up with the home run machine that is Pixar. Perhaps the presence of familiar characters will help when DreamWorks releases Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit on October 7.