Thursday, November 06, 2008

Various Links

Over at, there's a review of Madagascar 2 which includes this interesting take on modern family films:
Many know it as the Fox/Dreamworks design, and it goes a little something like this: hire yourself a group of recognizable voice actors, preferably from mediums (TV, music) that provide some conceptual crossover appeal; take your spec screenplay and strip it of anything remotely resembling complicated characterization or narrative; insert multiple examples of lame pop culture quipping, everything from tempered Top 40 hits to fame whore in-joking; offer up a few mindless musical montages; and don’t forget the borderline offensive toilet humor and bodily fluid/noises jokes. Wrap it all up in a ribbon of riot act ridiculousness, a level of ADD inspired attention spanning that will leave the underaged spent and the adult feeling they got their Cineplex-inflated money’s worth, and you’ve got a F/D derivative. And a big fat hit, probably.
At Cinematech, Scott Kirsner wonders why Disney is pushing the Blu-ray version of Sleeping Beauty so hard while not making it available for downloading.
My point: why spend all that marketing money to remind people about the existence of a 50-year old movie if you're not going to offer it in all the formats people might want to watch it in?

Also, Apple said last year that there were 500 million active iTunes users, and about a million new downloads of the software every day. The most optimistic projections about Blu-ray players envision that there will be about ten million of them in use by the end of this year. (And yes, that includes those built in to Sony's PS3 game console.)

So you're going to spend millions of marketing dollars to sell to a potential audience of 10 million instead of 500+ million? I own some Disney stock, and that don't make sense to me as a shareholder.
The New York Times reports on Disney's high end approach to merchandising.

The most expensive piece of clothing sold by the Walt Disney Company six years ago was a $75 sweatshirt embossed with a mug shot of Mickey Mouse. By Magic Kingdom decree, home furnishings were required to exhibit at least one Disney character, leading to children’s play rugs ($65, in Pluto) and nightlights ($9.95, in Winnie the Pooh).

Disney still peddles all those things. But now the company also sells $3,900 designer wedding gowns — no characters in sight — and women’s cashmere sweaters “inspired by Tinker Bell.” Interior design offerings include $2,800 leather club chairs and $6,000 chandeliers patterned after the Art Deco décor in Mr. Disney’s former office. One of the company’s new products: couture soap.

Welcome to Disney, the “lifestyle brand.”


Andrew Murray said...

ten million Blue ray's in use by the end of this year?

Yeah...I'll get right on that. within the last year I FINALLY converted all my old VHS into DVD's
Now all that will be offered is blue ray, and I'll have to get it when DVD's are not around, a new TV to watch it on, oh and of course a blue ray player.
Yup, I'll just go on down to the store and pick up all those things I'll need heading in to this recession.

-'nuff said.

Jenny Lerew said...

I tried to make sense of the Madagascar review on "popmatters" and failed; it's a mess.

The reviewer contradicts himself several times over, and I was never quite clear what point he wanted to make-unless it was simply to get across how disdainful he was of the thing. Heavy-handed writing, attempts to be "clever" and one backhanded compliment about how a film that's nothing more than a commercial crapfast also has visual "splendors" that "shimmer"? Thanks but no thanks.

I'm past tired of these knee-jerk "reviews" that beat a tired old POV to death. Oooh, crass commercialism! "Shrek" is "shrill"!--daring. Except the original Shrek was quite a good movie, which is WHY it was a hi, and audiences who'd never heard of the thing before flocked to it for months--all summer, in fact.
You really can't fool 50 million frenchmen, and whether one would like to indulge one's artistic snobbery or not many of the supposedly anything-for-a-buck films obviously please audiences. Even "family" ones.

I didn't work on either Madacascar film, but I'm still insulted at the way they're dismissed or pilloried out of hand. I'm insulted for the story artists and the directors who I know to be exceptionally talented.

Thad said...

Talented people working on films below them is a staple of cinema. It's been around forever. I see no harm in criticizing mediocre crass while acknowledging that the artists deserve to work on better.

I have no interest in seeing this movie, nor anything else that comes out of the studio. I can turn on a rerun of "Friends" and get the same amount of substance and quality of acting for free.

Pete Emslie said...

Regarding Disney Consumer Products, I'm afraid that division of the company has become too pompous and pretentious under the direction of its current president, Andy Mooney. Mr. Mooney is a former Nike guy, and unfortunately he likes to sell Disney just like it was overpriced shoeware.

Ever since he took over, the Disney artists have not been listened to. The Disney Consumer Products art department was severely whittled down some years ago with a bunch of artist layoffs, and more recently the Disney Stores art department was dissolved altogether. In both cases, friends of mine who were employed as character artists in both these departments told me that the brass never would listen to their expertise and good advice regarding the usage of the characters, instead putting out high priced trinkets like are mentioned in the article, that have little or nothing to do with the films or characters.

Yet know-nothings like Mooney and his brand managers keep on raking in their high salaries for continuing to water down the Disney name.