They never get it

Hollywood just never gets it.  The reason that one film does well and another doesn’t is chalked up to “the times have changed”, or “people are looking for different things.”

That’s a load of hooey.  That’s right, I said Hooey.

An article in the Chicago Tribune discusses Disney’s apparent decision to exit the princess movie genre.  They chalk it up to changing tastes.  It isn’t.  Compare, for example, the classic Sleeping Beauty to the banal Princess and the Frog.

Has anyone over the age of ten actually gotten excited about the new Rapunzel movie, which, as near as I can tell from the previews, is going to be a muddled mess more closely designed around marketing toys than actually making a movie with heart.

And are the Hollywood people so deluded that we are being told that they need to keep pushing the boundaries of imagination and going in new directions from the studio that just gave us Toy Story 3, and is currently working on Monsters, Inc 2 and Cars 2?  They don’t get it.  It wasn’t the marketing gimmicks that built Pixar’s reputation.   It was that they told stories we wanted to hear, and they told them well.  The same is true of the good Disney movies.

Quick, name a Disney princess movie made between 1960 and 1988?  There wasn’t one.  The last princess movie made was Sleeping Beauty in 1959.  In the interim, Disney descended into the ranks of “B” movie studio that built the failure known as Euro-Disney.  In the 1970’s, Disney was synonymous with “cheesey low-budget films”.  I enjoyed watching them as a kid, but find them painful as an adult.  Yet, I still marvel at the detail that went into filming a movie like sleeping beauty.  Who would have thought that the studio that had fallen so far they made “The Brave Little Toaster” would release, two short years later, a film as good as “The Little Mermaid.”  Who would have imagined that the next film after that (Beauty and the Beast) would be nominated for an academy award for Best Picture?  (Which it should have won.)  This was because they spent time and effort on these movies, not to create a marketing phenomenon (although it did), but to tell a genuine story.

If you make a good movie, people will care and will see it.  If you make a bad film, they won’t.  Don’t just try and make “The next ‘The Little Mermaid'”.  Make a film that people will use as a benchmark of quality.  Sure there will be misses.  But the reason people didn’t go to see “Princess and the Frog” isn’t that people are over the princess thing.  It’s that they realized it wasn’t a great movie.

As for Tangled?  I think I’ll wait for netflix.

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One Response to “They never get it”

  1. We actually enjoyed Princess and the Frog. The voodoo imagery was a little scary and over-the-top for the intended audience, but the music and characters were good. Ray (the firefly) dying and joining his “Evangeline” in the sky was a poignant moment.

    If the people that bash Harry Potter as witchcraft passed along the word that Frog had voodoo in it, that would cut into its revenue.

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