Eric Harvey

Eric Harvey has been writing movie reviews since 2015. His favorite critics are Roger Ebert (the every man), A.O. Scott (the intellectual), and Chris Stuckmann (the YouTuber). His favorite movies are Toy Story, Forrest Gump, Jurassic Park, and It's a Wonderful Life.

And the Golden Globe for Best Comedy Goes to…

Yesterday, the funniest comedy of the year was whatever news channel was broadcasting Sean Spicer and Anthony ‘the Mooch’ Scaramucci sound bites. These two comedy giants have had me laughing harder than any 2017 comedy thus far.

Then I rented Fate of the Furious on the Google Play Store.

Fate of the Furious is an achievement in absurdist comedy like no other; it easily takes the cake for Best 8th Movie in a Franchise Released in 2017.  Had Vin Diesel been sipping a cappuccino, I would have thought I was watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

I did not know this was a comedy going in, and in fairness that’s probably because I haven’t seen Fast and Furious one, two, three, four, or six. I think the fifth one was on TV once, and who didn’t see the seventh after Paul Walker’s death? I have a soul, dammit!

Fate opens with Vin Diesel settling an argument with a spontaneous street race. In this universe, one takes the high road (CAR PUNS!) by breaking traffic traffic laws and destroying property. This earns the respect of your adversaries and myself. Then, Charlize Theron shows up, and PLOT TWIST: she’s a villain. In this air tight script, she lures Vin Diesel right to her by (you guessed it) pretending to have car trouble. The original script for this scene, I imagine, went something like this:

Vin: Looks like you need help. Did your check-engine light turn on?

Charlize: You’re a check-engine light.

Vin: How dare you say that about my family. Me love family.

End Scene.

Despite this brief dialogue being remarkably on-theme, the writing team decided to have Charlize blackmail Vin Diesel with an Instagram photo. Or maybe it was a Snap because it disappeared before she could show the audience. Either way, this undisclosed MacGuffin must have been good because all of a sudden we’re off to the races (CAR PUNS!). There are quick cuts of doors slamming, engines revving, gas pedals flooring, and speedometers climbing. It’s like Baby Driver, but for only like 15 seconds at a time.

In the middle of this madness is Dwayne, the Rock, Johnson coaching soccer. At one point he says ‘manny pedi’ to a bunch of pre-teen girls, and then smiles. God, the Rock is just so darn likable. He’s both tough and adorable. I’ll just say what we’re all thinking: I smell a Rock/Obama presidential ticket. Ba-Rock Obama 2020!

Cut scene. The Rock is in a prison. What happened?!?! Somebody must have tampered with the air tight script. It doesn’t matter though, because the Rock starts a prison riot by punching a wall and escapes in the chaos.  Jason Statham is there to provide a little will-they-won’t-they bromantic tension between him and the Rock. Maybe they’ll finally tie the knot in the 9th or 10th movie. Where else can this franchise really go, but a gay art house action buddy comedy with a $300M pyrotechnics budget?

Cut scene again. Charlize Theron hacks all the cars in Manhattan to chase down an important foreign diplomat in possession of the nuclear codes. At the push of a button, thousands of cars are remotely turned on and drive themselves recklessly through red lights and lemonade stands. It’s the stuff of nightmares for Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who, in an unprecedented move, made the first ever anti-product placement payment to Universal to ensure no Tesla’s would be featured in the devastating car hacking sequence.

As if this wasn’t enough movie already, my personal favorite scene is still to come. Aboard an airplane, Jason Statham kills five thugs while holding a baby listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas music on Beats by Dre headphones that Statham just happened to have in his pocket. It’s as if the producers saw Jason Statham’s hysterical monologues from Spy and said, “We can beat that.”

And beat it they have. As far as I’m concerned, Fate of the Furious has cemented itself in comedy history. It’s so bad it’s good, so funny it’s serious, and most importantly, so fast it’s furious. To the makers of the 9th installment in this award-worthy franchise, I have just one word: godspeed. 

How Does Homecoming Rank Among the Spidey Films?

As the introductory logos flashed on the screen, I was a tad disappointed by the absence of Danny Elfman’s iconic score from Sam Raimi’s Spidey trilogy.

2002’s Spider-man is one of the best superhero movies ever made. And its 2004 sequel is probably a hair better. Since then we’ve had three subpar Spidey films ranging from the laughable Spider-man 3 to abysmal garbage under the guise of The Amazing Spider-man 2. But how does Spider-man: Homecoming rank?

Although it won’t affect many people’s opinion of the film, the title is perfect. Not only is it the first Spider-man film to include a tagline “homecoming” in its title, but it works on two levels. Being a high school film, it nods to the annual school dance, and it celebrates Disney’s long awaited legal victory of bringing the Spider-man film rights back home to the Disney owned Marvel Studios. While Sony still holds some power, executives at the two studios agreed to a rare creative joint venture where Sony would reap the profits if Disney had final cut.

As far as the 134 minutes after the title flashes on screen, Homecoming is as good an incarnation of the characters as the classic Raimi films of 2002 and 2004. Peter Parker and Spider-Man are especially well realized on screen by British actor, Tom Holland. The supporting cast – namely Peter’s best friend, Ned (Jacob Batalon) – is charming in a funny, kids-will-be-kids kind of way. And there was a more meaningful villain than I’m used to seeing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). However, the film as a whole falls short of Raimi’s too classics for one simple reason: world-building. Leave these moments on the cutting room floor and we would have a better-paced film clocking in under two hours.

At least three characters were given screen time for the sole purpose of teasing their importance to future films. I say “at least” because I’m not deep enough in the gaping crevasse that is Marvel comic book lore. Hollywood doesn’t seem to care that teasing Movie B during Movie A only makes Movie A worse. The insecurity it shows in Disney is sad, really. I can picture show runner Kevin Feige panicking should we, for just one split second, be unaware that this Sony film is actually an extension of the Disney owned MCU. Calm down, Kevin. I know you were part of this.

Thankfully there is less world building here than The Amazing Spider-man 2, a film whose franchise only made the world better by spawning this meme:

Homecoming begins with the events of Captain America: Civil War. Peter Parker is on a high after getting a brief glimpse of a very grown-up, Avengers-filled world. But Peter is a 15-year-old high school sophomore. He’s got homework, detention, school dances, and Spanish quizzes to worry about. This high school element, Ferris Bueller references and all, is delightfully funny . . .  for the audience. Peter, on the other hand, wants more. He wants to drop out of school and be an Avenger.

With the impatience of any teenager, Peter gets tangled up with neighborhood thugs armed with alien hardware scavenged from the aftermath of previous Avenger battles. Luckily nobody is killed, but Parker’s favorite deli is destroyed. No more sandwiches for you.

Would this deter a normal person from endangering the public further? Yes. But in Hollywood this leads to Peter further meddling where he should not. Michael Keaton, portraying one of the MCU’s best villains to date, gets involved. There’s lots of fancy set pieces where Spidey saves a few people here, almost saves a few people there. Tony Stark gives him the obligatory responsibility speech. Maturing happens. Yay Peter.

At least the power/responsibility speech wasn’t as bad as The Amazing Spider-Man. In effort to not directly copy Raimi’s classic dialogue (“with great power comes great responsibility”), the 2012 reboot replaced the brevity of six words for an onerous 29 word lecture: “[Peter’s father] believed that if you could do good things for other people, you had a moral obligation to do those things! That’s what’s at stake here. Not choice. Responsibility.”

At least Tony Stark trimmed it back down to 11 words: “If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”

Despite the Spider-man franchise being attached at the hip to the power/responsibility motif, the importance of patience is the real theme of this film. This refreshing change of pace comes with a dose of irony. An irony that even Marvel is aware of as evidenced by a comical post-credit scene.

With the virtue of patience on my mind as I left the theater, I wondered how long my patience with the MCU will hold out. Sixteen films in and I’m still waiting for a plot with any sort of finality. There have been no meaningful character departures, as Marvel is too scared to let Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, or any of the franchises A-listers, die in battle.

Marvel has tested the patience of endless fans by waiting until its 18th film to headline a black superhero (Black Panther, coming February 2018), and its 21st film to headline a female superhero (Captain Marvel, coming March 2019).

And don’t get me started on Marvel’s own lack of patience. Beginning in 2017 they’ve squeezed three films a year into their schedule for the remaining MCU films. By moving so fast, they’re undoubtedly cannibalizing their own hype and leaving many earnest fans with empty pockets, trying to keep up.

All things aside, if you fancy an endearing high school movie and have managed to stay current with the MCU through Captain America: Civil War, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Spider-man: Homecoming. 

Cars 3 – Mild Spoilers

As a college student in Orange County, CA, I was a cast member at Disneyland. I worked every single shift alongside Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Red. We were all such close friends that they even asked me to make a TV appearance with them for the 2013 Disneyland Christmas Parade. I’ve heard more Kachow’s than a parent marooned on a desert island with nothing but their 7 year old son and a Cars DVD.

Being as close to this franchise as I am, my bias is twofold. I have a love-hate relationship with the Cars characters. I’ve heard the voice of Larry the Cable Guy more than any human being ever should. And at the same time, I’ve had the pleasure of introducing Lightning McQueen to kids who worship at the altar of his Piston Cup trophies. When Lightning revs his engine, their little faces light up like Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor using a new Binford power tool. But that’s Disneyland; what about the movies?

The Cars franchise has received a bad rap ever since Lightning McQueen appeared onscreen in 2006. The first film earned Pixar its lowest Rotten Tomatoes score to date (a fresh score of 74%) and Cars 2 officially began the debate of whether or not Pixar had lost its touch. I don’t intend to unload all my opinions on that matter in this review, but know that I’m still a fan of Pixar.

Cars 3 essentially tells the story of Rocky 3 and other generic inspirational sports movies. Lightning, once the rookie making headlines, is suddenly seen as a pile of obsolete nuts and bolts next to the race cars of the future. He’s the Ford in a sea of Tesla Model 3’s. This revelation unfolds in 15 minute race track sequence presented as a montage of Piston Cup season updates and live racing coverage. I’ll spare you the easy critique that this sequence copies both 2006’s Cars and Rocky 3 and instead compliment the technical brilliance that Pixar brings to the table.

Debut director Brian Fee introduces Lighting’s new racing nemesis, Jackson Storm, with skillful camera work. As Lightning zooms down the track, the dark, sleek, looming presence of Storm glides over the camera. He enters the scene like Vader’s Star Destroyer chasing down the Rebel Alliance in the opening shot of Star Wars. It’s an effective, menacing character introduction.

Adding to this visual impact is the thoughtful sound design of Storm’s engine. There is a subtle electronic hum to his engine that makes the clunky combustion engine under Lightning’s hood seem inherently inefficient. Layering in Randy Newman’s low rumbling brass score creates a very effective first act.

Lightning McQueen not only loses to Jackson Storm, but crashes badly, calling into question his future as a racer. During a four month recovery period in Radiator Springs, McQueen realizes he doesn’t want to let the rookies of today dictate his retirement plans. “I decide when I’m done,” he says, and heads to a new high-tech training facility to get his groove back. Along this journey he’s introduced to a new personal trainer, Cruz Ramirez, a spunky yellow car who trains like both a Zumba and spin class instructor rolled into one.

Lightning develops an interesting relationship with Cruz. In SAT prep format:

Cruz : old Lightning :: rookie Lightning : ____?

A.) Mr. Miyagi, The Karate Kid

B.) Mick, Rocky

C.) Doc Hudson, Cars

If you guessed C, congratulations! Although A and B aren’t far off in their basic function to the narrative. Despite the great Paul Newman passing in 2008, the Pixar team re-purposes audio recordings from the first film to bring Doc back one last time. While Doc is level headed and wise, Lightning has not arrived at this level of maturity. He’s desperately clinging to a past everyone around him knows is gone.

Unfortunately, this personal struggle doesn’t quite resonate as strongly as it could. Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) in The Incredibles was far more convincing as a former big shot unwilling to live in the present. You can see this characterization play out in every scene of The Incredibles. Little moments like his angst in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and bigger ones like sneaking out to listen to the police scanner.

A long-winded second act puts Lightning in several obligatory sport tropes. Lightning reaches an ultimatum with his sponsor, engages in a montage of unconventional training methods, and reconnects with the grit of his craft in a demolition derby. The derby, a last-car-standing mud pit wrestling extravaganza, also gives us a glimpse into Mrs. Frizzle’s double life: Magic School Bus teacher by day; Mad Max cosplay adrenaline junkie by night.

While Lightning’s journey was more predictable than I’d like, Cruz’s emotional arc of the story is surprisingly timely. In a vulnerable moment, she opens up about her childhood dream of being a racer. She was the fastest kid in school, and anxiously awaited the day she could show the world her talent. Eventually a big break comes her way. But as she prepares to head onto the track, a reality check stunted her confidence: none of the other cars look like her. She is smaller – without a traditional race car engine and design. She convinces herself that she can’t do it since she is so unlike the other racers. A well stated message that Hollywood is making baby steps in combating rather than just preaching.

I won’t spoil the ending for you, just know that it certainly won’t surprise you. Despite this predictability, Cars 3  is a big improvement over Cars 2. It recaptures the imagery and tone of small towns across America and drives home a solid message on the importance of diversity without belittling the audience.

While it stumbles a bit in it’s generic story and I look forward to seeing more from director Brian Fee. I can see him taking the Cars franchise to an even better place in the future.

Kedi – Review

To some viewers, Kedi will likely be described as just another nature documentary, only not as good since you have to read subtitles rather than let the enunciative charm of a British narration wash over you. However, for film lovers and cat lovers like me, Kedi is the Citizen Cain of nature documentaries. It doesn’t get better than this.

Set in modern day Istanbul, Kedi documents the stray cats that inhabit the city. As told in the film, sailors keep cats aboard their ships to keep the rats under control. However, when ships reach the harbors of Istanbul, the cats disembark and rarely make their way back to the same boat. The frequency of this incidental cat migration has made the Turkish metropolis home to a broad sector of cats.

While brief history lessons like this make Kedi informative, its portrait of seven cats and the city they live in make the film a transcendent experience. Director Ceyda Torun documents the daily lives of seven cats: Sari, Duman, Bengü, Aslan Parçasi, Gamsiz, Psikopat, and Deniz. Each one unique in appearance and personality, but singular in the delight they bring to the people around them. One restaurant owner’s tip jar funds veterinary visits for the stray cats in his neighborhood. Other residents credit their feline friendships in helping them defeat their own personal demons. No matter the case, the residents of Istanbul seem to share a unified appreciation – one might even say reverence – for the city’s cat population.

“It is said cats are aware of God’s existence,” states one interviewee. “While dogs think people are God, cat don’t. They just know better.” While a dog lover may emphatically agree with this assertion, they would use it to claim dogs make the better companion. A dog does not need to receive love to give it. Who wouldn’t want that kind of master-servant relationship?

Kedi interprets the assertion differently: because a cat knows humans are fallible, any bond they may share is mutually earned. Much like the relationships between two people.

Identifying personhood in cats is certainly at the forefront of this documentary’s message. And to my delight as a viewer, it never felt forced upon me. Many documentaries fall into the shock and awe category. Their message is dystopic and urgent and if you don’t act now you will die and/or Earth will cease to exist as we know it. Many documentaries in this category are memorable, but not because they are great movies. They are memorable because they make the audience feel guilty for not supporting A, B, and C or not being aware of X, Y, and Z.

Kedi could have gone down this path. It could have featured interviews with prominent animal rights activists and buried the audience beneath statistics and data. Instead it earns respect and praise by showing, not telling. By focusing on the characters and the aesthetic, it will first and foremost be remembered as a great film. It features stunning cinematography and poignant, personal interviews that presents Istanbul as a truly magical place: both for its human and feline residents alike.

**

Kedi is free to watch with a YouTube Red subscription. YouTube purchased the exclusive distribution rights and published it on May 10, 2017.

My two amazing cats, Albus (jumping) and Ari.

Four Eras in Disney History – Trend Analysis

On Memorial Day weekend 2017, Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast crossed $500M at the domestic box office. Only eight films have reached this – four of which are Disney releases. Across all other benchmarks of box office success, Disney has left its closest competitor in the dust. What’s unique about Disney’s dominance at the box office is not just how much money it earns, but rather the focus Disney has brought to its annual theatrical slate. To understand this focus, I’ve categorized Disney releases into three buckets:

  1. Disney Animation: Produced by either Walt Disney Animation (“WDA”) or Pixar and bear the trademark Disney name.
  2. Disney Live Action: Marketed alongside the Disney name and mostly produced by Walt Disney Pictures (“WDP”).
  3. Non-Disney branded films: Distributed via Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures, and in later years, Marvel and LucasFilm. In other words, you don’t see the Disney name featured in any marketing.

With these categories in mind, let’s take a journey back to the 1990’s and track a once sprawling lineup of films into modern day.

The Katzenberg Era – 1990 to 1995

Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg were atop the Mouse House as CEO and Studio Chief, respectively. At this time Disney’s brand name carried more weight than any other post-Walt era. Classic animated films like The Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast carried the box office and earned rapturous critical reception. The annual film slate averaged 2-3 animated films (usually one or two being a re-release), 4-5 live-action films, and over a dozen films marketed without the Disney name.

By 1990, Katzenberg’s strategies were firing on all cylinders. WDA titles anchored the annual slate and they consistently averaged a higher box office gross per release than any other Disney film. See chart below.

Katzenberg EraAverage No. of FilmsAverage Box Office Gross
Stock Price+ 110.27%
Disney Animation2.33$92,533,357
Disney Live Action4.67$33,259,387
Non-Disney Branded17.67$26,909,021

 

Post-Katz Era – 1996 to 2002

After Katzenberg left Disney, his proven strategy lingered. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Despite multiple studio chiefs filling his gap during the next seven years, the slate carried the signature Katzenberg trademarks: a few animated hits (mainly supplied by Pixar) and high utilization of Touchstone’s adult and teenage audience. Nobody filled the top spot long enough to establish a different strategy.

While Disney was treading water, the industry was changing rapidly. The transition from hand-drawn to CG animation created new competitors in the marketplace including DreamWorks, Blue Sky Animation, and Pixar. Yes, at this time Pixar was fiercely competing with Disney for talent despite being in a distribution deal with the Mouse House.

With the talent pool splintered between multiple animation studios, the marketplace became flooded with animated offerings. During this time, Disney’s animation output slightly increased but with little marginal increase in box office performance. As you can see from the chart below, the Disney slate remained relatively unchanged in the post-Katz era.

Post-Katz EraAverage No. of FilmsAverage Box Office Gross
Stock Price- 16.89%
Disney Animation3.00$95,773,359
Disney Live Action4.43$51,686,932
Non-Disney Branded14.29$39,536,588

Despite each category improving slightly at the box office, Disney’s stock suffered. During this era, CEO Michael Eisner was wading into uncharted waters as he attempted to grow the business.

  • 1995, acquisition of ABC and ESPN television networks
  • 1998, planning begins for Hong Kong Disneyland
  • 1998, acquired a majority stake in the Anaheim Angels baseball team
  • 1998, maiden voyage of the now industry leading Disney cruise line
  • 1998, acquired Starwave, an internet business integral to giving ABC and ESPN an online presence

Through these acquisitions Disney became Hollywood’s first media conglomerate. However, corporate lawsuits and power mongering at the executive level had shareholders frazzled. The Disney family members and Disney executives were not seeing eye-to-eye. With so much tension in Eisner’s ivory tower, a change in management seemed afoot.

The Cook Era – 2003 to 2010

Dick Cook was the first studio chief to work with CEO Bob Iger, who took over for Eisner in late 2005. This new executive team made two acquisitions: Pixar and Marvel. Pixar was acquired in May 2006, and Iger immediately put Pixar’s creative and managerial talent in charge of WDA. This new oversight would breathe new life into the fledgling animation team. At this point a studio was lucky to have one animated hit a year. By 2007, Disney’s slate included two animated films. One Pixar and one WDA. Both hits.

On the live action front Disney began to narrow its focus for the first time. Things were clumsy at first. A studio chief’s job can sometimes be described as throwing a handful of darts all at once and hoping for one bullseye. Remember the Eddie Murphy PG-rated horror/comedy, The Haunted Mansion? Or The Country Bears? These darts were thrown along with Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. One was a bullseye. Two didn’t even hit the board.

The Cook era also witnessed the beginning of a still growing Hollywood trend: the franchise. The earliest iteration of Hollywood franchising was simply making sequels. This evolved into creating big-screen iterations of existing brands, and has since evolved into the connected universe. Cook found himself in the middle of this growing trend and brought the Pirates, Narnia, and National Treasure franchises to the screen.

As each of those franchises began to wind down (or in the case of Pirates, stay in the fridge long past the expiration date), Disney acquired Marvel. At this time Marvel was essentially a licensing company, selling its name to Fox, Sony, and Universal. Disney wisely ceased licensing in favor of developing its own Marvel films. We now know this as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Its success has shaped Hollywood as we know it. Every studio scrambled to develop a shared universe akin to the MCU. Universal launched its “Dark Universe” with this summer’s The Mummy. Paramount flirted with a connected universe of Mattel toy properties. Warner Brothers has the DC Comics.

Just ten years prior, Disney’s live action films were heavily reliant on Touchstone and the few WDP films were not franchise material. With the addition of Marvel, Disney focused less on Touchstone in favor of Marvel films. Not only did they have a loyal fan base, but the properties were easily integrated into Disney’s parks and resorts.  The same could hardly be said for a Touchstone film.

The overall slate was significantly reduced in the Cook era. Note in the chart below that even though the Marvel acquisition falls under this era, non-Disney branded content actually dipped on a per film average basis. This is due to film distribution contracts already in place with Paramount and Universal. Disney didn’t start pocketing MCU money until Marvel’s The Avengers (2012).

Cook EraAverage No. of FilmsAverage Box Office Gross
Stock Price+ 60.78%
Disney Animation2.38
$152,507,987
Disney Live Action6.38$98,365,581
Non-Disney Branded7.88$36,110,635

 

Alan Horn and the Modern Era – 2011 to Today

When Cook eventually stepped down, TV veteran Rich Ross filled the spot of studio chief for two short years. He greenlit several films that flopped, resulting in write-downs of hundreds of millions of dollars. “Write-down” is accountant-speak for flushing money down the toilet. Some of the turds include Mars Needs Moms, John Carter, and The Lone Ranger. His brevity in the boss’s seat show that even with a finely tuned strategy, the art behind picking what gets made is not as easy as it seems. Consider the films listed above: John Carter was a beloved sci-fi property (albeit dated) directed by Academy Award winner Andrew Stanton. The Lone Ranger reunited the creative team behind the wildly successful Pirates franchise. Both ideas sounded amazing on paper, but fell victim to a combination of poor timing, ineffective marketing, and Johnny Depp being a weirdo. As for Mars, I have no idea what Ross was thinking.

With Ross fired, Iger hired industry veteran Alan Horn who ushered in the modern era of Disney’s theatrical strategy: bring every film into a franchise fold. Horn inherited the most valuable brand portfolio in the world, and each brand has room to grow its respective franchises. In the minds of executives and their Wall Street bean counters, franchises eliminate risk which increases predictability and blah-blah-blah business-business-business. The stock market moves when businesses beat or miss expectations every quarter. It’s not always fair or even an accurate indicator of value, but that’s how the system works and Disney has built its slate around reality. Case in point:

  • Winter 2016 and 2017 both had a Marvel, Star Wars, and an animated film.
  • Spring 2016 and 2017 both had a live-action remake of a Disney classic and rode the wake of December’s Star Wars film.
  • Summer 2015, 2016, and 2017 had a Pixar and at least one Marvel film.

This strategy is great for Disney’s stock price, but after a while the movies start feeling manufactured rather than crafted. We’ve seen this with Pixar, the MCU, and WDP’s live action remakes of Disney classics. They’re being made to fit a corporate strategy rather than letting the corporate strategy revolve around the creativity. Part of what made the Katzenberg era so important was that Disney changed its business as a result of the WDA’s films. Now, they’re forcing Pixar to fit a corporate strategy. God help us if the same corrupts Star Wars.

Horn and the Modern EraAverage No. of FilmsAverage Box Office Gross
Stock Price+ 177.85%
Disney Animation3.00 $192,164,693
Disney Live Action4.67$88,566,454
Non-Disney Branded4.67$197,748,759

 

It’s easy to sit back and critique. But I critique because I care. My advice to Disney is to let each film breath. What an executive may see as a risky film, an artist sees an amazing opportunity to think differently and surprise an audience. Don’t make another Incredibles film because you need a guaranteed hit, make it because Brad Bird came up with an idea so good he won’t shut up about it.

Rather than building a slate quarter to quarter, build it based on the films that are ready to be made. If that means one year you release 15 movies and the next only 7, so be it. In either case each film will be doing more for its brand than sell toys. They’ll be creating lifelong fans that will follow the brand wherever it naturally develops.

***

Because I nerd-out over this stuff, I made a scatter plot of Disney releases from 1990 to 2016. I eliminated he top and bottom 10% (based on box office) because these outliers skewed the data. Ahem – looking at you, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. White dots, for example, represent animated films from WDA and Pixar. The trend line is made up of an average box office gross for that year in the animation category. For example, if there were 2 animated films in a given year that grossed $100M and $150M, the trend line would track at $125M. Also attached is an excel spreadsheet with the raw data I pulled from Box Office Mojo. Let me know what other trends you may find and remember, there’s always a story behind the numbers.