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Analyst predicts major writedown for Dreamworks as “Turbo” fights for traction

Jul 26, 2013, 8:30 PM EDT

TURBO

The IndyCar-centric animated flick “Turbo” has been well-received by moviegoers (it’s received an A grade from Cinemascore) and has escaped major scorn from critics (it’s averaging 64 percent on prominent review site Rotten Tomatoes). But according to Bloomberg News, its so-so start at the box office has caused an analyst to predict as much as a $50 million writedown for creator Dreamworks Animation.

The film, which focuses on a garden snail’s journey toward victory at the Indianapolis 500, came up third in its opening weekend as it found stiff competition against low-budget horror movie “The Conjuring” and fellow CGI ‘toon “Despicable Me 2.”

“Turbo” only netted $21.5 million that weekend ($31 million in its first five days), which has caused James Marsh, an analyst with New York-based Piper Jaffray, to say that DWA’s latest offering may not be able to cross the $100 million mark in North America – a prediction that had an adverse affect on the company’s shares earlier this week.

“While reviews have been positive for the film and could help build word of mouth, at this stage we think it will be lucky to hit $100 million in the current competitive environment,” Marsh wrote in a research note according to Bloomberg.

This weekend may be critical for “Turbo” to prove it can do well throughout the dog days of summer. That’s because yet another challenger for your family’s entertainment dollar – Sony’s “The Smurfs 2” – will be released this coming Wednesday, joining the aforementioned “Turbo” and “Despicable Me 2,” as well as Disney/Pixar’s “Monsters University.”

BoxOfficeMojo.com reports that up to yesterday, “Turbo” had taken in $42.4 million overall.

It bears noting that the film has yet to be released in key markets such as Europe and China. Marsh also said that DWA could still dodge a big writedown thanks to merchandising and its deal with distributor 20th Century Fox, which, according to Bloomberg, allows DWA to keep its rights to domestic TV money and lowers the cost of digital distribution rights.

DWA plans to continue the “Turbo” story later this year on streaming service Netflix with animated series “Turbo: F.A.S.T.”

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