First of all, what is an Oogielove movie? Well, it's the latest creation from Kenn Viselman, the man with the vision behind the hugely popular Teletubbies. While that TV franchise was a massive success, his original big screen endeavor, The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, isn't seeing much love from movie audiences..
We knew there was something unusual going on earlier this week when no one in Hollywood (including studio execs, the press and we box office analysts) seemed to have any idea how many theaters were going to play the film this weekend. When the numbers came in on Thursday for its opening Wednesday box office performance the results were shocking: the film had earned just $102,564 in a whopping 2,160 theaters for unfathomably low per theater average of just $47! Even being generous by applying matinee or kid's ticket price of $6 bucks per person, that's like only 8 people in each theater (not much Oogielove there). Thursday's gross is a similar $123,024 in 2,160 theaters for a per-theater average of $57 and a paltry total two day cumulative gross of $225,588 as it heads into the weekend.
The failure of the film (with a reported $20 million budget) points out the very significant limitations of the self-distribution model. In other words, had The Oogieloves In The Big Balloon Adventure had the distribution and marketing muscle of a major studio behind it, it would have at least had a fighting chance to post respectable numbers. Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it, the Oogieloves movie certainly exists, but not enough people were even aware of its existence to make a ticket purchase and thus it has so far barely made a box office sound or even a whimper.
Other films that have used this model have generally been faith-based films that used grass roots marketing to draw a significant audience through group sales and marketing via the pulpit and strong word-of-mouth. This strategy pushed 2008's Fireproof starring Kirk Cameron as a firefighter trying to save his marriage to an impressive $6.8 million debut in 839 theaters.
Nonetheless, we are still rooting for the Oogies to make a bigger splash over the weekend when the Labor Day holiday may offer an opportunity for the film to draw a family audience while competing with the other major studio releases that enjoy the benefit of a major studio marketing and distribution machine behind them.
[Photo Credit: Kenn Viselman Presents]