Why’d it Hit?/Why’s it Forgotten?/Why’d it Bomb? Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two
Kevthewriter wonders why audiences danced to the first Happy Feet but sat out the sequel.
Happy Feet was a surprise success in 2006. It ended up being #1 at the box office for three weeks and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film (before that award became Best Animated Disney Film). Surprisingly, then, Happy Feet Two bombed at the box office 5 years later. But why did the sequel bomb? And, really, why was the first even a hit?
Back in the mid 2000’s, penguins became really, really popular. The Penguins from Madagascar were the most popular characters of that movie (even scoring their own animated TV series) and March of the Penguins was a huge hit with audiences.
March of the Penguins wasn’t the only documentary that was a big hit in 2005. An Inconvenient Truth was also very popular and reignited many people’s interest in saving the environment (well that coupled with Bush’s environmental policies having a negative effect on the environment which were making everyone afraid of global warming).
So then comes Happy Feet, which was a movie that combined penguins (an animal that everyone was going crazy for) and a message about global warming (which everyone was concerned about). I remember when it first came out everyone was talking about how political this movie was which probably caused it to strike a chord with audiences and lead it to have longevity with the audience. Then you couple that with the fact that there wasn’t much out for kids back in December 2006 therefore this was really the only option for family entertainment and it’s not that surprising it was a box office hit.
But, by 2007, the penguin phenomenon died down. The next penguin movie, Surfs Up, was a box office disappointment and, while the Madagascar sequels were hits, the penguins weren’t the only reason those movies did well (children just like that franchise).
When the penguin phenomenon died down, so did the hype for both March of the Penguins and Happy Feet and, as a result, by the time Happy Feet Two came out, people hardly remembered it existed. As a result, it was one reason, among many, Happy Feet Two was a bomb at the box office.
But it’s not the only reason.
While the movie’s message might have a struck chord with some families at the time, it also probably turned off many conservative viewers who, because of the message, decided they weren’t going to bring their kids to the sequel.
Additionally, the movie faced competition this time around. When Happy Feet came out, it was basically the sole kids film out at the moment. Granted, there was Santa Clause 3 and Flushed Away but they weren’t exactly lighting the box office on fire (same with Deck the Halls, which came out on its 2nd week).
On the other hand, Happy Feet Two had to face competition with The Muppets, Arthur Christmas, Hugo, and Puss in Boots. And, while Arthur only did okay and Hugo bombed, The Muppets proved to be stiff competition and Puss in Boots also did well.
So that’s the reason Happy Feet Two bombed at the box office. It was a movie that was a huge hit at the time but whose popularity has since died out plus more conservative viewers who may not have been happy with the first one skipped it but, what really didn’t help its case, is that it faced more competition than it’s predecessor did which hurt it in the end.