Friday, August 28, 2009
When Will The Light Go Out?
Nothing last forever and you have to wonder how long before the Lamp flickers...
They produce only one film a year, but have a remarkably consistent strategy of success. Pixar Animation Studios is a studio that would be the envy of all in Hollywood. They're ten for ten with no disappointments and no bombs since their first film came on the scene in 1995. Many thought that as they ramped up production, from a picture every two/three years to one a year, that the quality would slip and so would their record. No so, at least not yet.
So it got me wondering... always a dangerous thing for me, but I thought, what could/would be the first failure for John Lasseter's little Emeryville Kingdom? So I decided to look at their film schedule and try to analyze which one could possibly be a failure, or at the very least, a disappointment.
Over the next four years we can expect four films, should they keep to their current plans:
2010 - Toy Story 3
2011 - Cars 2
2011 - The Bear and the Bow
2012 - Newt
Will "Toy Story 3" be the first to fail? To quote the late John Wayne: "Not hardly." The only way this film will be a failure is if there is a power outage all across the nation the weekend it opens. I'm sure attention to detail has produced a very well done script, but even if it hadn't, can you imagine the crowds going to see this? From those that have been fans since the original to the young kids that have grown up with Woody and Buzz on video and in parks; it's bullet proof. No way will this one be a failure.
Well, then we go to 2011, which for the first time will have two Pixar films in one year. The first will be the summer release of "Cars 2" and the later will be a holiday release of Pixar's first fairy tale: "The Bear and the Bow." One of the reasons the new "Winnie the Pooh" film is coming out in spring is because Bear already has the traditional Disney holding place. But let's start with Lightning McQueen's return first.
I will state confidently that "Cars 2" will not be a bomb, in fact, it's going to make far more money that the original. The first one passed the 400 million dollar mark, which is nice, but not what most were expecting from the Lamp. But what many people don't realize is that the merchandising from the film generates over 2 billion a year and has so far made the Mouse 5 billion plus. There are a lot of kids out there with shoes and backpacks and a ton of other licensed products that have indoctrinated a whole lot of young boys. This film will make bank. And the merchandise associated with it will probably get the Disney company through the current recession.
So then we come to Pixar's other release, its first fairy tale. Uncharted territory for the company. But again, almost every film for them has been uncharted territory. This is the first film that has a chance of failure for Pixar. So the first time we'll see a test of their success will be around Christmas 2011. That's a long ways away and being as how the film will go through several revisions before we see it, I'd gamble that it's going to be a success too. Disney does have some success at selling Princesses after all, don't they? But if there is to be a first failure this will be it.
But if it's not, then "Newt" will appear less than a half year from Bear so it will provide a test as well. This one could really be the first one, since the material it's dealing with isn't something that Disney is used to selling, like a princess. But I've seen Gary Rydstrom's "Lifted" and it's very good, very clever. And like the rest, there's a long time between now and our first introduction to the little salamander/newt/amphibian(?) creature. If the pundits got worried with an old man in "Up," imagine how they'll feel about this character.
So the nearest we'll come to seeing a failure is over two years from now. But if "Newt" or "The Bear and the Bow" aren't going to be a mistake or stumble, what about 2013? That's the next time we'll see the next Pixar film. Will it be a disappointment? Will it crash and burn at the box office? I can't say for sure, but the last time I saw Sully and Mike they did pretty well, didn't they?
Quality is a great business plan...