Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

You Win Some, You Lose Some

April 5, 2012

Well, it is not a secret that Hunger Games is a hit with moviegoers. It made over $152 million it’s opening weekend, which made it the best March movie opening ever. This film is based on books by Suzanne Collins where, in the future, young people are forced by the government to fight each other to the death. Of course, this is not the first time a book or book series got the movie treatment. Just look at the recent John Carter of Mars, those books are classics of the science fiction genre. Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the man who brought us Tarzan, it deals with the adventures of the title character, a prospector and U.S. Civil War veteran who ends up on the planet Mars in the 21st century. Yet, John Carter didn’t do nearly as well its opening weekend. How much money did it make? Only $30 million.  By the way, John Carter of Mars cost $250 million to make, whereas Hunger Games only cost $78 million to make.

What gives? John Carter has been around for almost a hundred years, it was written by the same person who gave us Tarzan (how many screen adaptations did he get) and has a big fan base. In addition to all of that, the film version was directed by Andrew Stanton, the guy who directed WALL*E and Finding Nemo, it had the good special effects and had the resources of Disney studios. Why didn’t it do as well as Hunger Games? Here are my thoughts.

John Carter Isn’t A Harbinger of Things To Come
While books are considered classics in the science fiction genre, they aren’t in the same league as books by Jules Verne. Verne was an engineer, so his stories had some grounding in science. Edgar Rice Burroughs was a pencil sharpener salesman, among other things and he achieved his greatest success by writing the John Carter stories. The appeal of Burroughs’ John Carter stories has more to do with characterization, (John Carter is noble, the Tharks are savages, etc.) than with any visions or predictions of the future.

The Fan Base Wasn’t Tapped Into
Many of the movie posters for John Carter didn’t feature the title character or make mention that that this film was based on the Burroughs’ books. The one that does, doesn’t show him in great detail. It looks like this:

I have a passing familiarity with the books because my brother read both the Marvel comic book version and the actual books. If you haven’t read the books or know someone that did, looking at a poster like this would make you scratch your head. There was no mention that this was based on the books by Burroughs. The blurb on the poster doesn’t draw the moviegoer in. (FYI: The blurb says, “Lost in our world. Found in another.”) Not even a mention that the person who brought us WALL*E and Finding Nemo was directing this film. Marketing campaign seemed to be “If you film it, they will come.” Well, they filmed it and only $30 million’s worth came.

Despite The Best of Intentions, It Just Didn’t Do Well
Sometimes, no matter how many pluses a movie has, and this film had plenty, it just doesn’t do well. Classics like Citizen Kane and It’s A Wonderful Life bombed when they were first released and you can’t get better plusses than Orson Wells and Jimmy Stewart. Not to mention, the John Carter books are a hundred years old, so they didn’t have the marketing machine behind them that a more recent book, like Hunger Games or Twilight has.

So, if something in your life doesn’t work out, no matter how much thought or effort you put into it, don’t feel too bad. At least you didn’t lose $165 million on your endeavor, which is what Disney stands to lose on John Carter.

Sources:
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=2012&wknd=12&p=.htm

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=2012&wknd=10&p=.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/movies/john-carter-based-on-princess-of-mars.html

http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=371986

http://www.movieweb.com/news/second-john-carter-poster

Advertisements

Disney Classics Goes 3D

November 3, 2011

After the success of the re-release The Lion King in 3D, Disney announced that it will re-release Beauty and The Beast, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid and  Monsters, Inc. in 3D.

I guess I blogged too soon about there being intelligent life in Hollywood. (See Kimosabe, Uncle Walt Says Stop) I must admit I thought re-release The Lion King in 3D was just a one time deal before it goes on to Blu-Ray DVD. Rather it was more like a test for the folks at Disney. Now instead of making original animated 3D films, Uncle Walt’s crew is retro fitting older animated films with 3D effects.

Of course, the 3D retro fitting idea can be traced back to George Lucas doing that to the Star Wars films. I suspect that the folks at Disney found out what he was doing and thought “Gee, if Lucas is doing that for the Star Wars films and there are only six of them, just think what we could with our back catalogue of animated films.” Then The Lion King in 3D did so well, the folks at the Mouse Factory were singing Hakuna Matata all the way to the bank.

Still, 3D isn’t as great as the studios would have us believe and it’s an effect that won’t work for every movie. What’s next? Will Dreamworks’ animation department jump on the bandwagon and start retro fitting all the Shrek and Madagascar films in 3D? What about Warner Brothers? Will we be treated to Bugs Bunny being hunted by Elmer Fudd in 3D? (Quick duck, Fudd has a gun!) Oh Don Bluth*, where are you when we need you the most?

Most of the time, the only thing 3D adds to a film is that it adds more money to the admission price. What makes Disney’s animated films so great is that while the stories they are based on are classics in and of themselves, Disney added the artistry and the storytelling elements that made them their own. When it comes to Snow White, people don’t think of The Brothers Grimm. No, they think of Snow White dancing with the Dwarves and singing Someday My Prince Will Come.

Disney has the resources at its disposal and then some to create another classic animated film, so it has no excuse when it comes this. So, come on Mickey, start whipping your minions into shape. They produced animated films that were grand artistic achievements in the past and they can do it again.

*Don Bluth, a former Disney animator who in 1979 left to establish Don Bluth Productions. His company was responsible for such animated films as The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, Titan AE and let’s not forget the video game Dragon’s Lair.

Sources:
http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/10/04/disney-3d-beauty-beast-mermaid/

http://www.slashfilm.com/disney-3d-rereleases-2012/

http://donbluthanimation.com/_Don_Bluth_Animation_About_Don.html

My Moviegoing Pet Peeves

June 16, 2011

The Flavorwire blog put up a list of what not to do when going to the movies. This came about after news about a patron who was kicked out of a movie theater for texting, even though she was warned repeatedly to stop. Well, that got the wheels in my brain turning. (Uh-oh, you must be saying now). So, here are a list of my moviegoing pet peeves.

Comments about the action/characters/plot during the movie
In December 2010, I took my nephew to see Tangled. In one scene Rapunzel’s boyfriend is mortally wounded by the evil stepmother. As he lay dying, one person in the theater blurred out, “He can’t die. This is Disney.” Yes, I was thinking that too, still that comment ruined the suspense. Of course, there are films where audience participation is a part of the experience (i.e. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, campy B-movies) and, I admit it, I blurted out “Do something!” during a key scene in Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader looked on as Luke Skywalker was being zapped by the Emperor. Still, loads of people worked very hard to make the film you are watching believeable. Also, loads of people gave up their hard earned cash for a few hours of escape from their troubles.  Don’t ruin it for both parties. During the movie, keep your comments to yourself. Loads of people will be very grateful.

Overpriced snacks
Yes, the movie theaters make their money on the concessions, not on the box office. Still, do they have to charge so much for a small tub of popcorn and a drink. Also, do they have to sell such big tubs of popcorn and buckets of soft drink? Consuming oversized portions is one reason why so many are obese in the U.S. So, theater companies, redo your product mix. Go easy on the portions and how about offering some healthy snacks for a change, such as granola, dried fruit, maybe even sushi would be nice.

Sticky Floors
This peeve is directed at both movie theater management and the moviegoer. To the moviegoer, if you must get the supersized soft drink and the humungous tub of popcorn special, please be careful. Some of us, present company included, like to get moderately dressed up for the movies (nice shirt, nice pair of jeans or khakis, nice shoes). We don’t like having to either wade through sticky and crunchy floors, or fall victim to someone else’s carelessness and mess up our nice shirt, jeans, khakis and shoes. To the movie theater management, please remind your staff on the importance of keeping the movie theater clean. Not only will doing that improve the moviegoing experience for the patron, but it could also reduce the risk of lawsuits from people who slip, fall and injure themselves on sticky and crunchy floors.

Well, those are my pet peeves. What about you, gentle reader? Do you have any pet peeves regarding the moviegoing experience that you would like to share? Leave a comment and if I get enough peeves, I’ll share them in a future entry.

2011 Summer Movies

May 5, 2011

Yippee, it’s May. Not only does it mean that winter is over, spring is in full bloom and summer is just around the corner, it also means that Hollywood will be churning out my favorite kind of movie—the SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER!!  Since I love summer blockbusters sooooo much, I will use this blog entry to highlight a few of the many movies that will be coming out this summer.

May
Thor

Based on the characters from Marvel Comics, Thor is more than just a big lug with a hammer.  After all he gets his powers from the Norse gods, so he can’t just be some rock’em sock’em super hero. In fact, Stan Lee admitted that he occasionally had his characters, like Thor and Silver Surfer put forth his own philosophy of life. The film was directed by none other than Kenneth Branagh, of Hamlet fame and stars Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman.

Pirates of the Caribbean—On Stranger Tides
Love’em or hate’em, you have to hand it to Disney, when something works for them, they keep using it. Case in point, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. The last one made $300 million, so the powers that be decided to make another one. This one features Penelope Cruz, as well as Johnny Depp and is in 3D. I’m sure this will make a pretty penny this time around, as well. After all, the mouse doesn’t live on cheese alone.

Hangover 2
The crew from Hangover, which is the highest grossing R-rated comedy, is back. Need I say more?

June
X-Men First Class

Another one of Marvel and Stan Lee’s properties is getting the blockbuster treatment this summer. This one is a prequel of how Charles Xavier and Magneto came to be who they are. While some of the teaser posters weren’t so great, this film looks interesting to me. This film stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and January Jones.

Cars 2
I guess the folks at Pixar thought since sequels worked so well for Toy Story, might as well try them for Cars. This time Lighting McQueen gets involved with spies during an international road race. I’ve seen the previews and they look good, so I’m actually looking forward to this film. Features the voices of Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy.

Rise of the Apes
Look at what Star Wars has wrought, sequels and prequels everywhere. This is a prequel for the original 1968 film Planet of the Apes with the dude who played Moses in The Ten Commandments. Hmmm, what was his name?* Well, senior moments not withstanding, this film deals with genetic engineering and what can happen when tinkering in the lab goes astray. Stars James Franco, Tom Felton and John Lithgow

July
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2

The long awaited end of the Harry Potter series will come this summer. Will Voldermore be defeated? Will Hermonine choose Harry or Ron? What will become of Harry? Oh wait, these questions were answered in the books. Maybe I should hurry up and read them all. Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.

Captain America: The First Avenger
Yet another Marvel property is getting the movie treatment. This time the story deals with a someone who volunteers to take part in an experiment during World War II to become a super soldier, only to end up with super human strength. Stan Lee must be very happy to see his creations on the big screen. I hope he is getting some money out of this, as well.  Stars Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson.

Cowboys and Aliens
Talk about your genre mashups. It wasn’t enough to make a western or a sci-fi film, director Jon Favreau of Iron Man fame, decided to take the graphic novel (comic book to those over the age of 40) by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and turn it into a movie. Of course the next question is, who will win? The cowboys or aliens? I have a feeling it will be the cowboys. Stars Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig.

August
The Smurfs

Yes, those little blue creatures who got their start in a comic strip in 1958 by Belgian artist Pierre Culliford, also known as Peyo, and then ended up as a Saturday morning cartoon on NBC in the 1980’s, are now coming to a multiplex near you—in 3D no less. Again the powers that be are into recycling and there is no end to this trend in sight. To quote, a famous Smurf line: “La, la, lala, la. La, lala, la.” Features the voices of Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria and Katy Perry.

Conan
Speaking of recycling, weren’t the first two with the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger enough? Stars Jason Momoa. Would you believe that Momoa got his start in Baywatch Hawaii? Talk about fail safe casting.

Final Destination 5
Will this be the final Final Destination or will there be a 6, 7, 8….

Well, those are my thoughts on select 2011 summer movies. Tune in again next week for another thrilling blog entry. (Okay, so my blog entries aren’t exactly thrilling, but they are good reads.)

*It was Charlton Heston and I knew it along. I just did that to be funny.

Sources:
http://www.reelzchannel.com/article/1082/summer-2011-preview-20-movies-well-be-talking-about-next-year/

Cantu, Hector, Heritage Magazine “Stan the Creator” Fall 2008, pg. 51

http://bluebuddies.com/help/smurfs_peyo_biography.htm

Highest Grossing Films of 2010

January 6, 2011

Here are the top ten domestic grossing films, as reported in the December 24, 2010 issue of The Hollywood Reporter

1.     Toy Story 3 $415 million  (The folks at Pixar and Disney must be very happy.)

2.     Alice in Wonderland $334.2 million

3.     Inception $292.5 million (Christopher Nolan has proven that he doesn’t need Batman to boil his pot.)

4.     Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 $265.7 million

5.     Shrek Forever After $238.5 million

6.     The Twilight Saga: Eclipse $300.5 million (Team Jacob or Team Edward? Who cares! Vampires AND Werewolves aren’t sexy.)

7.     Iron Man 2 $312.1 million

8.     Despicable Me $250.5 million

9.     How to Train Your Dragon $217.6 million  (Or How to Train Your Dragon and Make Millions in the Process)

10.  Clash of the Titans $163.2 million

Joking aside, four out of the ten films in the 2010 list are animated. It is not hard to figure out why, since the ongoing recession has people yearning not just for an escape but a reminder of childhood and animated films do both.  (I explored this idea further in my blog entry of July 21, 2010 and you can read it here: https://justmovieposters09.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/animated-movies%E2%80%94they%E2%80%99re-not-just-for-kids-anymore/). Also, half of the films in the list are sequels. Love’em or hate’em, sequels make the cash register go cha-ching million of times over. From Harry Potter to Twilight and loads of movies in between, people like to see how characters progress over time. I admit, I like sequels for that very reason. Because people want to see the next chapter, they go the see the sequel and the film makes lots of money. It’s not rocket science, folks. It’s what the engineers call “If it works, it works” principle.

So, what will 2011 bring in movies? While I could wax poetic about the art of film, the reality is that the studios aren’t going to mess with a good formula. So, there will be more blockbusters, sequels and animated films in 2011. Of course, there is a chance that I’m wrong and there will be less films that are just formulaic plots with different characters and more films that explore the human condition.

Naaaaa.

Source:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/top-10-grossing-films-2010-65349

2010 Holiday Movies

November 11, 2010

It’s that time of year when the studios bring out the family/animated films, a few blockbusters and throw in some “serious” films for last minute Oscar contention, all to entertain the movie going public and make a few bucks for themselves, as well.

Here are few films that will be playing at a multiplex near you.

November 2010

Burlesque
What happens when you put Cher and Christina Aguilera in the same movie? You get Burlesque, which is really the old story of a small town girl who goes to the big city to live out her dreams.

Love and Other Drugs
That little blue pill makes it to the big time. Well, sort of. This movie is based on Jamie Reidy’s book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman and stars Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. There has been some Oscar buzz about this film. Of course, what’s next, a film about penicillin? Aspirin? Castor oil, even? Scratch castor oil. I don’t think the powers that be would swallow that.

Tangled
Leave it to Disney to put out an animated film for the holidays.  This film is a retelling of the Rapunzel tale whereby, the princess leaves the castle to hang with bandit Flynn Rider. This film features the voices of Amanda Moore, Zachary Levi and Donna Murphy.

December 2010

Black Swan
Yes, those posters with Natalie Portman have been all over the Internet. Soon the actual movie will come out and it is about a ballet dancer, Portman who starts a relationship with a new dancer in the troupe, only to find her position in the troupe will be changing just as a production of Swan Lake comes up. Yes, that doesn’t sound like much, still the movie hasn’t come out yet, so let’s wait and see how it turns out.

Tron Legacy
This is another Disney production for the holidays. I saw Tron when it came out in movie theaters in 1982 and it was a sight to see. The use of computer animation was brilliant and groundbreaking. The trouble was I was so lost in the visuals that I briefly forgot what the movie was about. I soon remembered and continued enjoying myself. Well, not only is computer animation much more advanced in 2010, making this a must see movie, but Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner are back in their original roles. If I go to see this movie, I’ll be sure to pay closer attention, since the visuals are expected to be so much better this time around.

Gulliver’s Travels
It was bound to happen, Jack Black taking on a classic of English literature and the classic is none other Jonathan Swift’s satire Gulliver’s Travels. Black is Lemuel Gulliver and CGI helps with everything else. Black was great in School of Rock and I won’t be surprised if he will be just as good in Gulliver’s Travels.

So, there you have it. A little taste of what’s coming up for the holiday movie season. If you want more information go to:

http://www.reelzchannel.com/article/1126/2010-holiday-movie-guide

Source:
http://www.reelzchannel.com/article/1126/2010-holiday-movie-guide