Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Killing Of A Queen By A Princess...


Let me just say that I've been in a bad mood over the past week so I'm sorry if it's bled over in to the posts...

Yes, it's been related to Disney and it's not just this news. But it appears that for the second time the Snow Queen has been put on ice. There are several factors that were/are the reason behind this. One is obviously story, as it just wasn't coming in a satisfactory way, but also the "Royalty" problem. With all the hub bub going out now about "The Princess and the Frog," box office and the lack of boys wanting to see "girlie" films has had a cooling effect on moving forward with another Princess-type story. I can tell you that were it to have gone forward, it wouldn't have been called Snow Queen.

Hey, she may not be a princess, but being a queen is twice as bad, right? That'll keep those young boys from buying tickets. After all, remember back in the 50's when we saw hundreds, thousands of boys running screaming from the the theaters when they saw the words "Cinderella" on the screen. I mean, they didn't realize they were tricked into seeing a princess movie. And don't get me started on "Snow White" since we know that males were decidedly absent from that film. Marketers being the brilliant men that they are might be having a little too much sway in those names, but it's not the only reason that the film won't be coming out in 2012.

But it is the stupidest reason...

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now that Princess has come and gone, I'd love to hear if Lasseter is being viewed any differently than he was when he first entered. I am willing to cut him a lot of slack, but every film that's been touted as his proving ground has been an underwhelming performer. I am not saying that any of it's been his fault, but clearly the guy can only do so much and cannot work miracles. I do believe that the stories in Bolt and PATF were much weaker than they should have been despite his insistence that story is king. So I'm wondering if anyone above him is rethinking how much influence he will have going forward.

perfectly flawed said...

Well personally, I think it's like judging apples and oranges. We're living in different times. Back then, Walt Disney's animated films had sole dominance over other animation studios of their time, public consumption and perception was different and it was simply a different culture compared to today.

If we flash-forward to now, Disney is now competing with other various animation studios (Dreamworks, Blue Sky, Sony, and even Pixar just to name a few) and have been lost in the dust for not evolving well in the past decade (in exception of "Lilo & Stich", and to some extent "Bolt"). Sadly, there have been instances where Disney has tarnished their own reputation (cheesy cheapquels), and the feminist movement against Princess movies have been strong. I think we're in the era where people expect fart jokes and pop culture references in their animated films - though I don't agree with the public stance at all. People aren't simply going to watch a Disney animated film just because their name is stamped on it, "Princess" lacked promotional success at one standpoint (Oprah didn't even dedicate an episode of her show to the film even though she gave her own input and played a role in the film). "The Princess and the Frog" was simply lost. It says a lot when a "Squeakel" made more money.

I personally believe it will take time and patience for the audience to rediscover the magic of Disney at the animation standpoint. "Rapunzel" is probably our saving grace if we want to see more fairy tales coming out of the Mouse ouse, the pressure must be on...

Mike Luzzi said...

Ok, I am with you, I hate to see a movie scrapped for such a dumb reason.

That said: Calling the movie "The Princess and the Frog" was a poorly calculated move. I am a traditional animator and and adult and when I told my colleagues I was going to see the PATF half of the guys scoffed and said "isn't that a girl's movie?" and they'd wait to see it on video.

No doubt in my mind that the people over there in the "research" department decided to market the film as "princess" deliberately to get the girls in from their "princess franchise." They did, no doubt, turn off some boys by marketing it as a Princess film."

There was no lack of bad-ass characters from the film. Naveen was a great character, funny the whole time I thought. Facilier was awesome and the whole shadow thing should have been played up in some boy-centric ads. I am betting Ray would have played well with boys too.

I am no marketer, but I do know, unfortunately, that films can live or die by their marketing regardless of how great they are (Iron Giant anyone?) Disney did a lot of press for this film, but maybe putting the word "Princess" in the title was a poor business move. What is wrong with "The Frog Prince?" (I suspect that Princess was desireable to link the title to their ever popular franchise and with that move they alienated the boys)

Colorado Mommy said...

Yes, there have been a lot of princess movies but what about Peter Pan, Sorcerer in the Stone, Black Caldron,Bolt, Incredibles, etc.. ?? Maybe just not back to back but I think there has been plenty of other boy type movies. Although my Daughter likes those too. :) Just my little opinion.

Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry to hear that you've been feeling bad Honor. I hope things get better, and I do mean that sincerely.

On the plus side, just keep in mind that while your blog may sometimes attract people who are rude and nasty in your direction, there ARE a lot of people who do appreciate your blog and the insider information that you give out.
Keep up the great work! :)

Justin said...

Back in the 50's you didn't have this: http://disney.go.com/princess/#/home/

Check out the movies section. There are 3 Princess Stories, 3 Princess Sing Alongs, 2 Princess Parties, The Princess Echanted Tales, and a Princess Christmas Special.

Times are different now than they were just 20 years ago or 50 years ago. Getting boys and teens to go see a Princess movie is like trying to get them to go see a Hanah Montana Movie. It doesn't matter if the Hanah Monatana Movie is the greatest movie ever, they still wouldn't go see it.

J said...

Here's the problem instead of a vision to move forward and look to the future of animation and storytelling. (yes the future can include both hand drawn and cgi animation). There is too much emphasis on back to the classic walt disney, recreating the disney renaissance of the 90's. There is no moving forward, it's true the minds of today's youth and movie viewing public has changed. They don't want a repeat of the 90's they want something new. A reminder of the classics is one thing, but down right trying to recreate the entire 90's is stupid.

That's my feeling anyways.

Doopey said...

It's true, though. What were once timeless classics for all ages are now relegated to the Princess ghetto for girls 4-8. Ironically, they were so gung-ho about "PatF" prescisely BECAUSE it was going to build the brand -- "the first new princess in years!" -- and now they are putting a film on ice (sorry) in part for the exact same reason. The marketing folks at Disney have lost it, if you ask me. The last few years are littered with quality Disney films that failed to find a broader audience.

Rafa said...

So is the gender thing a reasonable excuse for under performance nowadays??

If so I guess 'Treasure Planet' and 'Atlantis' only flopped because they were too boy and action centric.

Honestly? Jeez.

Those higher ups and all those idiots should just shut up and let them have half a chance of producing a movie slate rather than panicing after every movie and causeing upheaval after upheaval.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, I think it's best Disney moved beyond their fairy tale flicks, and do some new, wild stuff.

Don't get me wrong, the princess films are classics, but I also love those weird offbeat titles, like Hercules, Emperor's New Groove, Three Caballeros, etc. I think that's where they need to go.

Cory Gross said...

Unfortunately, when Disney does do some experimentation, nobody wants to go see it. Fantasia was a flop for crying out loud. Atlantis and Treasure Planet were already mentioned, and are perfect examples of films that aren't any worse than anything from the classic era, but just didn't fly because they weren't fairy tales. But then you get this thing where people don't want to see Disney fairy tales anymore either.

I dunno'... I would have liked to see The Snow Queen.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 17 year old boy and "The Princess and the Frog" is my favorite movie of 2009. Suck it suits.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with creating a "girlie" film? When movies try to appeal to too many demographics, they end up appealing to no demographic. Just alternate between boys and girls - make a Lion King for every Beauty and the Beast!

Anonymous said...

This movie (Snow Queen) shows up out of nowhere on their production slate, a film that has been long in development and notorious for story problems, and it's been shuddered due to TPATF's weak performance? I dunno. I suspect Disney is still proudly in the princess business (Enchanted 2, WDW's Fantasyland expansion) and this is a decision caused by production issues. If so, I applaud the suits for shuttering the Snow Queen until they can get it right. I loved The Princess and the Frog but it could have used a rewrite or two. It's a shame when they start animating before the script is in the best shape it can be in.

t said...

What it really comes down to - and I noticed nobody mentioning this yet - is that over the years we have really segregated certain "things" into being for boys only or for girls only. Not to say that this hasn't always been the case, it has, but it's a bigger issue now more than ever.

Back in the day, a fairy tale film for the whole audience was seen in an entirely different light than it is today. It was something the whole family could enjoy. Through corporate "BRANDING" and marketing, certain 'things' such as fairy tales are now - more than ever - for girls. Why? Because being a "Princess" like a Disney princess is what it's all about...made by corporate types for the sole reason of making big money. It completely changed the entire image of the legacy that is classic Disney and these particular characters.

No longer are these girls seen as individuals, and their stories being something for ALL people to enjoy...they are now a homogenized group to compete in the girls market with Barbie. And that has a HUGE affect on how people PERCEIVE these characters and these types of stories...and anything of the like in the future.

I'm surprised people can't see it more. And it's not just Disney. I think we are segregating what is for "boys" and what is for "girls" more than ever. And it has had definitely affected the legacy of certain Disney characters and stories...and Disney as a whole.

Amy said...

Lots of thoughts:

1. (@ Anonymous 1) I personally like Bolt and love TP&tF, but it's an interesting point- how many "flops" must WDFA have before Lasseter takes the heat that he probably deserves?

2. (@ perfectly flawed) But, at the same time, if Rapunzel does well, will it be due to the fact that it's CGI? That the heroine is all into grrrl-power? If Rapunzel does a lot better than TP&tF, then why will that be, other than the animation method...could the "controversy" surrounding TP&tF have anything to do with it? Damned if they do, damned if they don't... :(

3. (@ Mike Luzzi) But are [stereotypical] boys interested in seeing a film about a prince?!?

4. (@ J) Was TP&tF's intent to "recreate the '90s"? I mean, does hand-drawn fairy tale have to = the '90s? Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty are hand-drawn fairy tales, and they don't = the '90s. (And The Little Mermaid] was the '80s, anyway.) I think that the public, then, needs to not think of hand-drawn Disney fairy tales as being associated with the '90s...except that the '90s had a couple (a couple!) hand-drawn Disney fairy tales.

5. (@ Doopey) I agree- I mean, granted, I do genuinely like all the DACs, but movies like The Emperor's New Groove, Atlantis, and Treasure Planet are great films...what is the reasoning behind their unsuccessful box office runs?!?

6. (@ Rafa) I agree, in the sense of Disney catering to people complaining during the production of TP&tF, catering to outside people just so Disney doesn't offend others. Disney, TP&tF wasn't the first situation you've been in where your movies have offended others...and I mean, if TP&tF was so offensive, why did Anika Noni Rose, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lewis, etc., agree to participate?!? I mean, if the script was so offensive, you'd think that they would've quit. Someone is going to be offended by everything. You can't please EVERYONE. There is just no way you can.

7. (@ Cory Gross) I agree- again, damned if they do, damned if they don't.

8. (@ Anonymous 5) I agree (but I also think, why does B&tB have to be a "girly" film? Why does TLK have to be a film for "boys"? Just because the lead characters are a female and a male, respectively?). But, yeah, maybe Disney does need to space out it's films more...I mean, you'd go from Enchanted to TP&tF to Rapunzel to Pooh to The Snow Queen, and THEN King of the Elves, while Pixar gets all the male audience (not to mention Chipmunks and whoever else from competitors... :roll:).

Paultje said...

totally agree with T

perfectly flawed said...

Yeah Amy, it will be interesting to observe the performance of "Rapunzel" on many different angles, being that this will be Rich Ross' first Disney Studios animated film to promote - it will be interesting to see what tactics will be involved, and whether they will work this time around. Ross has already utilized Disney's television platforms to promote "Alice in Wonderland" heavily, much more than Cook would have used them for a Disney film.

Gender branding is a concern and may be one reason (but not the main reason) why P&tF didn't meet expectations. Disney for the longest time have been making attempts to capture the boy demographic, but with little success: "Gargolyes", the cartoon "Mighty Ducks" (their answer to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), and they had big plans for "Atlantis" and "Treasure Planet". They also had "Disney Heroes" in the early 2000s, which was the male equivalent of "Disney Princess". Overall they had some success thanks to Pixar: "Cars", "Toy Story", and "The Incredibles"; and they've even acquired brands like "Power Rangers" and most recently Marvel Comics as their answer to connect with what boys want. They gave an aggressive stance with the creation of Disney XD, a cable channel that features action-adventure, sports, rock music, and superheroes. Disney is recreating their image, to evolve with the times and become boy friendly when you judge what they have done recently.

For me personally, I think the way they marketed P&tF and other recent Disney films have been poor. They have been expensive (like the "Christmas Carol" train stops), but lacked an efficiency to actually make an effect on people - which is the yearning and interest to actually go and pay to see the film in the local movie theater.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the phrase "Snow Queen" carries the same deterrent as the word "princess." There's no rhyme or reason to which words have what effect, but the word "princess" will repell many males, and if Disney wants to attract those males to make a profit on a $100 million plus budgeted feature, then the word just has to go. The classic name was "The Frog Prince"...why not just keep that? Tiana wasn't a princess for most of the movie. Changing the name was merely to accomodate a marketing brand decidedly targeting one gender. But the failure of P&F probably had other factors working against it...while it was a perfectly pleasant film it just wasn't innovative or possessive of the "wow" factor like the second-golden-age films of 1989-1994.

- Tasman

SamLand said...

I recall that Walt Disney once said, "“Women are the best judges of anything we turn out. Their taste is very important. They are the theatergoers, they are the ones who drag the men in. If the women like it, to heck with the men.”

Sometimes you've got to be true to your routes. When everything is changing around you these simple ideas will prevail.

Right now everything at Disney is about collecting little affinity groups, giving them their treats, putting them in a box, and then shopping for the groups they don't have yet.

How many millions are they spending on the MK fix up which primarily is about interaction with Princesses?

Love the blog best ranters around.

Anonymous said...

You can't do fairy tales forever man, you gotta move on.

Anonymous said...

**I am no marketer, but I do know, unfortunately, that films can live or die by their marketing regardless of how great they are (Iron Giant anyone?)**

Astro Boy, anyone?

Rafa said...

On that note is Astro Boy any good? the promos are all over the TV in the UK.

Yet PatF I've seen one only once before a showing of Atlantis last week (about 15 seconds worth ¬_¬) they both released today.

Wonder which will be the bigger hit?

Anonymous said...

Honor, many of the complaints you registered in your post are a direct result of John Lasseter, believe it or not. Your deifying of him speaks volumes about your lack of industry savvy. Your heart's in the right place, but you have a superficial grasp of how Disney actually functions.

Just because he wears non-threatening Hawaiian shirts and can "get real" and talk without a script and likes to play with toys doesn't mean he's a fanboy like you, and it certainly doesn't mean he's Walt incarnated. Far from it; do you really think it's a coincidence he incubated Pixar's two most merchandisable franchises?

He's far more of a marketing guy than you think, and your thinly-veiled "Marketers being the brilliant men that they are" swipe could just as easily be tossed his way, especially in the cases of Bolt (story be damned, Miley will sell it!) and Princess and the Frog (first black princess OMG!)

If Pixar's always been about "story first", why didn't they make a hand-drawn feature? Hand-drawn is cheaper than CG, so why not? Oh, geez Honor, he made a sales pitch! It's CG first, story second!

"Story, story, story" is a marketing tagline. Time to wake up.

"Uncle John" is an extremely solid filmmaker, a strong ambassador of the Disney brand, and an asset in terms of entrancing the majority of easily-smitten Disney fans. However, the proof is in the pudding, and the bottom line is that Meet The Robinsons, Bolt, and Princess and the Frog have ultimately been failures in his hands.

And if he wore a suit and spoke in more obvious marketing verbiage, you would be talking about him as if he were David Stainton, Tom Schumacher, etc.

Please stop being such an easy mark. Your blog has wonderful spirit, but your analysis rarely goes beyond a fanboy's grasp of things.

Mistress Inverse said...

Yeah. Because having a female protagonist makes a film for girls only, where as having a male character makes it movie for all?

What a bunch of bull...

PATF wasn't even that "girly". It was more like Aladdin or Hercules than, let's say, Little Mermaid.
This whole concept if ridiculously annoying.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone stopped to think that maybe The Princess and the Frog didn't make the kind of money they wished was because it was lacking in that special something to take it over the edge. Geez, quit making excuses for the Princess and the Frog. This is part of the reason why the suits are so stupid. Call a spade a spade and just maybe they'll strive for a Beauty and the Beast.

Anonymous said...

Word from the inside: Rapunzel's movie title has just officially been changed to 'Tangled' as of yesterday afternoon. LAME

...but you didn't hear it from me...

Honor Hunter said...

Yes, that's one of several names I've heard...

I've got a post that was supposed to go up yesterday, but the real world called. So it'll go up tonight most likely.

It wouldn't surprise me if this was the title, as the announcement/decision is close...

Anonymous said...

What does this mean for Pixar's The Bear and the Bow?

Anonymous said...

I don't care what anyone says, I enjoyed both Bolt. It DID get a lot of critical praise.

Jones said...

PatF will make a very decent profit in the long run - so what´s the problem? (105 mil. domestically, probably around 140 - 160 mil. foreign, at least 100 mil. from DVDs etc., plus millions from merchandising and other sources (theme parks) - not every movie can be a megahit. There was one crucial mistake, and that´s hiring Randy Newman - I just don´t get how anybody could ever assume he could write a musical.

Jennifer said...

OK, so here's what I don't get. Those of us passionate about WDW have been clamoring for YEARS for Disney to get on board with paying attention to the BOYS who visit the parks. From princess meals to princess make-overs and everything made pink that can be made pink, it's getting harder and harder to be a boy at WDW. No character meals are geared toward boys. The pirate makeover deal? Weak, and unappealing to the segment of boys I *think* Disney is after. My 11-year-old son refused to see TPATF in a theater because he perceived it as just another princess story, and he's beyond peeved (and has been for a while) at how girl-centric the parks experience is. So it's pretty ridiculous of the suits to not see the bigger picture here -- the business all-in really IS geared to the girl experience because it's a lot easier to market to. If they really cared about the boy segment, they'd be doing more to court it throughout the system.

Anonymous said...

OK, so here's what I don't get. Those of us passionate about WDW have been clamoring for YEARS for Disney to get on board with paying attention to the BOYS who visit the parks. From princess meals to princess make-overs and everything made pink that can be made pink, it's getting harder and harder to be a boy at WDW. No character meals are geared toward boys. The pirate makeover deal? Weak, and unappealing to the segment of boys I *think* Disney is after. My 11-year-old son refused to see TPATF in a theater because he perceived it as just another princess story, and he's beyond peeved (and has been for a while) at how girl-centric the parks experience is. So it's pretty ridiculous of the suits to not see the bigger picture here -- the business all-in really IS geared to the girl experience because it's a lot easier to market to. If they really cared about the boy segment, they'd be doing more to court it throughout the system.

*BEEP-BEEP* Negativity overflow alert! *BEEP-BEEP*

Anonymous said...

Rafa, Astro Boy is excellent. It's got more of the feeling of a true Disney film than have most actual Disney films of late. It has the emotional punch of The Lion King, and the animation is Pixar-level. Don't miss it.

Anonymous said...

In my honest opinion, Disney needs to put someone in charge other than Lasseter. His interests are vested in Pixar, where he spends 95% of his time and energy. He only shows up for 'approvals' in Burbank then it's back up north.

Sorry, there's a serious conflict of interest with Lasseter and how he deals with Disney projects and Pixar.

This man is after an Oscar for Pixar and NOTHING else. Mark my words!

Manetoys said...

Am I the only one who thinks a good reason PATF didn't perform as expected was not only because of heavy competition, but we're still in a bit of a recession and few people have the money to take the whole family to movies anymore? PATF did fantastically on DVD and Blu-Ray. It also sold a shitload of dolls. Disney is being far too short-sighted on this and I think now that the sale numbers have come in for PATF, they may re-think they're strategy for Snow Queen

Anonymous said...

Aw man!!! I can't believe they axed " The Snow Queen".
How terribly backward of them to worry whether boys would go to see it or not. Are they psychic? Or do they still think that in the 21st century all that boys still want is guns and thugs? Not all do! Some are nice, imaginative, 'softer' beings perfectly capable of just sitting down and watching a nice fairy tale.Especially if their mothers/fathers teach them that there's nothing wrong with that, that is.
I mean, pardon me but what is wrong with making boys sit down to watch something non-violent for a change? Our society, no the whole human race might benefit if we did it more often.
The Snow Queen is a fabulous tale of how a boy is saved by his best friend, albeit a girl. I mean if their problem was with the title then why not change the title to something more neutral like " A Tale of Snow" or something?
Honestly. It really makes me despair that there are some real idiots at the top in the animation industry.. mostly biased, out-of-date victorian-minded men who care about nothing but money.
GET SOME WOMEN IN THERE DAMNIT!