Time Warner's Got Happy Feet

Animated penguins were a hit in DreamWorks Animation's (NYSE: DWA  ) Madagascar, so it was really just a matter of time before rendered penguins struck out on their own. Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) Happy Feet has established itself as the first blockbuster of the 2006 holiday season, outgunning James Bond's return to the big screen to claim $100 million in box office ticket sales through its first two weeks.

But the move doesn't cement Time Warner as a computer-animation heavy alongside the ranks of DreamWorks Animation and Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Pixar. This summer's pathetic take of a mere $28 million domestically for Time Warner's The Ant Bully means the company still has a little consistency to muster before it can be crowned a contender. Even News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) isn't worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as the two giants in computer animation, despite the runaway success of the Ice Age franchise.

It should also be pointed out that Happy Feet wouldn't have lapped the $100 million mark yet if it wasn't for its screened presence on 79 different IMAX (Nasdaq: IMAX  ) screens.

However, whether it's emperor penguins looking to weather the elements or an eclectic collection of prehistoric characters trying to hold off extinction, there seems to be a correlation between icy settings and family-pleasing hits.

Well, let's clarify that snowy setting as "inked." Live-action films that no doubt hoped to own the holidays, like Fox's Deck the Halls and Disney's The Santa Clause 3, are off to disappointing starts. Neither is trending towards a nine-figure domestic showing. Next time? Add more penguins.

IMAX was recommended last summer toMotley Fool Rule Breakersnewsletter subscribers. Time Warner, Disney, and DreamWorks Animation areMotley Fool Stock Advisorselections.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves to spot great things early. It's why he's been with The Motley Fool since 1995. He does own shares in Disney. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.TheFool has a disclosure policy.


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