Wall Street clawed 7.8% from the company’s stock price, which ended the day at $18.55, following Puss In Boots’ lower-than-expected $34M opening weekend. Analysts acknowledged that the film suffered from the blizzard that hit the Northeast as well as an exciting World Series that included a seventh game on Friday. Still, several say they’re frustrated with DreamWorks Animation, which has lost 47.5% of its value over the last 12 months. The weekend performance is “yet another argument supporting our thesis that it is time for the company to revise its film costs structure,” says Susquehanna Financial Group’s Vasily Karasyov — who now believes Puss will gross a maximum of $136M domestically, down from his pre-opening forecast of $201M. “Average attendance per original film has declined by around 20% since 2008,” he adds, even though “the studio still spends $135M to make a film and $170M to release it.” Janney Capital Markets Tony Wible dropped his domestic box office estimate to $153M from $195M, saying that the weekend shows “the (Shrek) franchise is completely out of momentum.” Barclays Capital’s Anthony DiClemente says he now believes Puss will gross $145M domestically, down from $165M, although “the film could exceed our moderated estimates” if there’s positive word of mouth. But Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett says that the anemic tracking results for the film before it opened shows “either that the marketing did not click, that the decision to open Halloween weekend did not work, or that (DWA) is suffering from more competition than before.” Whatever the problem, BTIG’s Rich Greenfield says that “Puss In Boots is by far (DWA’s) least attended film domestically since its IPO” in 2004, not including the films it co-produced with Aardman Animation. Last week, CEO Jeff Katzenberg said he’d consider the opening a success if Puss grossed at least $33.6M, the previous record for the weekend.
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