It’s always a magical state of affairs when by answering one of life’s great mysteries, you inadvertently answer another. This is why the premise of Warner Bros. Animation's Storks sounded so wonderfully promising. The movie essentially sets out to answer two of life's greatest questions: Where do babies come from? And how does Amazon Prime really work? And in doing so, gives us a rather endearing set of answers.
Firstly, babies come from ginormous baby making machines. Secondly, Cornerstore.com, the movie's invented global internet giant — which shares some rather striking similarities to that infamous book-turned-everything supplier — reveals that the secret to such unnerving delivery speeds is storks. These two worlds collide because Cornerstore.com used to have an in-house baby making machine and the stork workforce used to deliver its adorable, gurgling produce. However, seeing opportunities elsewhere, Cornerstore turned its focus to selling an endless variety of consumer goods and closed the machine for good.
That is at least until the beginning of the Storks when the machine is accidentally activated and baby Diamond Destiny is brought into the world, along with the movie's narrative. Throwing in an all-star cast comprising of Andy Samberg, Kelsey Grammer and Jennifer Aniston, it looked like Warner Bros. Animation was on to a sure-fire hit, but with a relatively disappointing box office debut, the studio execs have been left in a bit of a flap.
However, as only the second fully animated movie since the Warner Animation Group's re-emergence with their colossal 2014 smash, The Lego Movie, they are the relatively new kids on the block when compared with the likes of Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks. But, that hasn't prevented them from being any less ambitions. Given that before they had even released The Lego Movie Warner Animation had begun working on the sequels, The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie, the real question is whether with its box office performance in mind, Storks will also be given the sequel treatment. Let's take a look at what we know so far.
The Development Of 'Storks'
Cast & Crew
Storks was first announced back in January 2013, around the same time that Warner Bros. created an animation think tank to help develop the animation wing of their multi-billion corporation. From here they brought in Nicholas Stoller, director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall to act as screenwriter and Doug Sweetland, director of Finding Nemo and The Incredibles to direct the feature.
By April 2015 Andy Samberg and Kelsey Grammer were attached and it was announced that Stoller would co-direct alongside Sweetland. In June 2016, not long before it's release, the studio revealed that Jennifer Anniston was also attached to the picture, and the world rejoiced.
Initially set for release in February 2017, Warner Bros. swapped their scheduling around, pushing The Lego Batman Movie to February and moving Storks to the earlier release date of 23 September 2016, the original release date for The Lego Ninjago Movie, which has now moved to next year. Phew. Let's hope organizing the Warner Christmas party doesn't prove to be a similar logistical nightmare.
But did all of the re-scheduling pay off at the box office?
'Storks' Swoops In To The Box Office
Initially projected to rake in thirty million dollars in its opening weekend, this figure was swiftly lowered to twenty million after performing rather poorly in its previews. Ultimately bringing in just under twenty two million in its opening weekend, this recalculated figure wasn't far off target. That put Storks in second place in this weekends' box office rankings, trailing behind The Magnificent Seven's thirty five million dollar debut.
Dominating in China where it made five million dollars across six thousand screens, in Mexico where it made two and a half million across two thousand screens and coming out in first place across most of Latin America with the exception of Peru and Argentina, it'd be wrong to describe Storks as a failure. However, in a world in which animation studios can premiere a movie in excess of a hundred million dollars, Storks has performed distinctly averagely so far.
'Storks' And The Critics
Coasting Along The Middle
Mirroring its rather average box office performance, Storks hasn't received much praise or much damning criticism, but what it has gathered is fairly mediocre reviews across the board. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of just sixty four percent and a total of fifty five out of a hundred on Metacritic, Storks is the movie embodiment of the school report which wearily stated that you had potential, if only you'd just apply yourself.
Owen Gleiberman from Variety did an excellent job of summing the movie up when he stated:
"[Storks] is a strenuously unfunny animated comedy"
When both 'comedy' and 'unfunny' are thrown into the same sentence you know the movie is encroaching upon Son of the Mask 3 and The Holiday territory, which frankly, is never a good thing. However, it is important to remember that Storks is a kids film, and will certainly keep children entertained for its ninety minute running time, but with such strong competition from the likes of brilliantly executed rivals Finding Dory, Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings, there's really no room for mediocrity in an industry which is currently redefining the boundaries of what animated film is capable of.
So, Will There Be A 'Storks' Sequel?
Storks 2 Not A Safe Bet, But Not Off The Table
Living in the age of the sequel, the prequel and the spin-off, it's a precious rarity to find a movie with an original narrative and for that, Storks should be applauded, although not too much given that it is only Warner Animation's second fully-animated feature since their 1999 offering, The Iron Giant (also featuring Jennifer Anniston).
When compared to the success of The Lego Movie which went on to make just under five hundred million dollars, Storks certainly does not provide the studio with a secure base from which to launch a sequel, or perhaps even a prequel, but that doesn't mean they definitely won't go ahead with putting Storks 2 into production.
Critical Acclaim Is Not A Necessity
Bringing an original story to market is now seen as a much riskier choice than breathing the remnants of a tired sigh into a bunch of already existing, recognizable characters. We need only look to Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World and High School Musical 4 to see that oftentimes, studio execs prefer to keep producing films from a franchise which was critically panned and garnered average box office success than to try out something new. This bodes well for Storks the sequel.
With the benchmarks of success now being so drastically redrawn, everything is on the table. With Warner Bros. releasing the critically panned but huge box office successes, Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman, it's clear that creating brilliant, well-crafted movies is ironically no longer a priority for a major film studio. Critically already miles ahead of both of these poor DC reboots, the inoffensively average Storks stands a surprisingly good chance of getting the sequel treatment, whether this is to be celebrated or not however, is an entirely different matter.