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MGM and United Artists Releasing are already at work on a sequel to their animated The Addams Family revamp. That makes sense, since the $40 million toon opened with a scary-good $30 million debut weekend, with a $35 million Fri-Mon Columbus Day (42% of kids were out of school yesterday) holiday frame. Even with tracking suggesting an over/under $25 million launch heading into the opening, I was admittedly surprised by the results. Simply put, The Addams Family looked and felt like the kind of “just because I’ve heard of it doesn’t mean I care about it” IP and little in the marketing suggested much appeal to audiences beyond those already interest in an Addams Family toon. Well, with the caveat that the movie is “Fine, I guess,” audiences clearly wanted to revisit the property.
The Conrad Vernon/Greg Tiernan-directed movie works on its targeted demographic (my eight-year old, his four-year-old brother and their five-year-old cousin liked it just fine) and is entirely painless for adults (most of the worst pop culture references are in the trailers). It’s also clicking as a seasonal Halloween treat for folks too young to see Joker, with the cast Charlize Theron (Morticia), Oscar Isaac (Gomez), Chloe Grace Moretz (Wednesday), Finn Wolfard (Pugsley), Nick Kroll (Uncle Fester), Snoop Dogg (It), Bette Midler (Grandma), Allison Janney (Margaux Needler), Martin Short (Grandpa Frump) and Catherine O’Hara (Grandma Frump) offering plenty of value for those inclined to sample the goods. MGM and United Artists sold the hell out of this thing, with $150 million in promotional partners. The sequel has been slated for October 22, 2021.
While development of an animated sequel is not a surprise considering the boffo opening, I am curious what this means for the possibility of a live-action Addams Family reboot. This is 104% speculation, but there are two factors in play related to the animated film’s robust success. First, several members of the voice cast, specifically Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron and Chloe Grace Moretz, would already fit their theoretical live-action counterparts to a tee. Second, there’s precedent for this sort of thing. 14 years after the last live-action flick, Warner Bros. released an animated TMNT movie which opened with $25 million in March of 2007 and eventually earned $95 million on a $34 million budget. That was identical, sans inflation to the $25 million launch of the first live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie in 1990.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of those properties, like Scooby Doo, which never really goes away and generally finds new offerings (usually new TV shows) to keep fans around and capture youngsters into the fold. The 2007 toon, the second-biggest superhero toon ever behind Incredibles at the time, showed that the property still had life left. Seven years later, Paramount, Nickelodeon and Platinum Dunes gave us a brand-new, big-budget, live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. 21 years after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, the mid-August offering opened with a boffo $65 million domestic debut, just one week after Guardians of the Galaxy opened with $94 million. The Disney flick and the Paramount picture closed out the summer together, with the latter earning $191 million domestic and $491 million worldwide on a $125 million budget.
Yes, it was a pretty bad (and stitched together via reshoots and post-production wrangling) movie, to the point where the overtly superior sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows earned just $235 million worldwide in June of 2016. Yes, it was the same thing that felled Addams Family the first time around, where the “meh” The Addams Family was a huge hit due to hype and brand-driven interest only for the vastly superior Addams Family Values to bomb two years later as audiences either didn’t care a second time or really didn’t like the first one. Nonetheless, the sky-high opening for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles showed that the IP was still of grand value. The toon was the appetizer while the live-action reboot was the main course. That’s a possibility for Addams Family.
This is all speculation, but I could see MGM and friends, especially if the sequel performs even better (not remotely a guarantee) in two years, using Theron and Isaac to front a live-action Addams Family reboot in the near-future. Live-action adaptations are still generally more commercially viable than animated versions of a given property, which is the core reason why (for example) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse earned $375 million worldwide, or 1/3 of what Spider-Man: Far From Home did despite rave reviews and an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. That The Addams Family opened as well as it did shows that the character-specific property can still ensnare new fans and entrap older ones via multi-generational nostalgia. Or maybe MGM will count its blessings and hope that the animated hit can sustain a sequel or two.
I’ve studied the film industry, both academically and informally, and with an emphasis in box office analysis, for nearly 30 years. I have extensively written about all