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Jentasmic! on Lucasfilm Acquisition: Do’s and Don’ts for Disney

2 Nov
Minnie Mouse as Princess Leia

At Star Wars Weekends 2008

When news broke earlier this week about Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, all my geeky internet feeds simultaneously exploded with joy and surprise. And I don’t just mean the Disney geeks. The anime geeks, the gaming geeks, the sci-fi geeks . . . everybody was freaking out. And almost everybody seemed overjoyed.

But I’m feeling a good bit more cautious about this acquisition. Sure, it could mean good things; I’ve enjoyed the results of Disney’s collaboration with Lucasfilm over the years. I’m a big fan of Star Tours 2.0, and had a great time at Star Wars Weekends. But I also fear there are many ways this could go wrong. From my Jentasmic! column today at StudiosCentral:

DO learn from your experience in the Pixar merger. The response to Brave from both critics and fans, plus the increasing reliance on sequels, has me a little worried that Pixar may be losing its identity as some of its key players have taken on significant roles in other areas of the Walt Disney Company. And I’m sure there’s plenty to be learned from the Marvel experience as well. Don’t be afraid to look squarely at your mistakes and learn from them. It’s equally important to look carefully at what you’ve done right, so you can do it again.

Head on over to StudiosCentral to read the rest. I promise you there’s a non-gratuitous mention of the Star Wars Holiday Special, which isn’t usually all that easy to pull off.

Why I Might Yet See Cars 2

6 Jul

I’m a huge Pixar fan, but Cars is my least favorite of their films, and I can’t quite get worked up about the sequel. At this point, the film’s biggest selling point to me is that on average, it took 11.5 hours to render each frame.

And actually yeah, that just might be enough to get me in the theaters. But if second-weekend figures are any indication of the film’s momentum at the box office, I might just need to get to the theater sooner than later if I want that big-screen, expensive-render-farm experience.

Mr. Broke Hoedown on Pixar’s Sequelitis

20 May

Mr. Broke Hoedown’s got a new gig, on the Fun & Games beat of BNet. Not surprisingly, he’s covering a lot of Disney news, including today’s post on Pixar’s upcoming case of sequelitis.

Another indicator of problems for Pixar is which movies are being sequel-ized. While Monsters Inc. was critically acclaimed, Cars andBug’s Life are easily the studio’s two least distinguished movies.Bug’s Life was only one of two animated movies about heroic ants released in 1998. And the original Cars is the studio’s only critical flop. It was made to fulfill Pixar’s distribution contract with Disney(DIS) at a time when it looked as though the two companies were going to part ways — and it shows.

@The_Pixar_Blog wasn’t so fond of this article of course, as expressed this afternoon on twitter:

Is this supposed to be satirical? Either that, or its the most uniformed article about Pixar. Ever.

Mr. Broke Hoedown’s a pretty rabid Pixar fan, so I too was surprised to hear last night that he’d decided against seeing Cars 2. Then again, I’d just been watching the same commercial, and had come close to the same conclusion.

Some other recent articles on my spouse’s new BNet beat (Disney and otherwise):

Is the Academy Award for Best Picture a Farce?

28 Feb

My spouse (not a Disney Parks fan, but an animation nerd) has a bone to pick with the Academy for last night’s Best Picture win, and the fact that Toy Story 3 didn’t win. From his blog this morning, Why The Oscars’®©™ Best Picture award is a farce:

As good as it undoubtedly is, [The King's Speech] isn’t better than TS3 and the collected body of work Pixar has turned out. TS3 like Godfather II, and yes I believe they deserve to be discussed together, was able to be as good as – if not better – than the great original movie. (TS2 was 50% of a great movie and certainly not in a league with the other two. Drop me a line and I’ll explain why.) The depth of character, the incredibly mature story it told, the writing, the storytelling, the acting were all of a quality seldom matched. And it’s nomination was nothing more than tokenism. Feh. A pox on all The Academy’s houses.

Myself, I can live with the fact that Toy Story 3 walked away with just two Oscars, for Best Song and Best Animated Feature.

But it bugs me that I can’t imagine an animated film winning Best Picture, despite the excellent work in this medium. And let’s remember that it is in fact a medium, not a genre . . . which makes it odd to set apart in the way that we do. Plus, comedies tend to be perceived as less prestigious somehow than serious dramas, or even thrillers, so if we ever do see an animated film win best picture, my money’s on something more like Metropia than Toy Story, despite the fact that the latter is a better film.

I’m not sure I’ll go as far as my spouse, in calling the awards a farce. But the deeper I get in animation fandom, the more disgruntled I am with the Academy’s apparent attitude.

Toy Story 3 for Best Picture? Early Condolence

26 Feb

Toy Story 3: It's a Shame There's No Way in Hell This Will Win Best Picture

From College Humor’s Honest Movie Titles: Oscars 2011.

Sunday Morning Pixar and Union Musings

6 Feb

Looks like The Onion decided to celebrate 25 years of Pixar with this spot-on, foul-mouthed, hilarious fake op-ed piece by John Lasseter: I’ve Got You Dumb Motherfuckers Eating Right Out Of My Hand.

Yes, after the success of our first few movies we had a hunch you’d continue to enjoy the wonderfully designed animation and our smart, lyrical writing, but I didn’t think we’d create a horde of drooling morons ready to drop everything just to watch a fucking rat cook dinner. Time and time again, though, there you chumps are, lined up around the block with your stupid little kids, eager to have your stupid little hearts filled with whimsy.

You probably aren’t surprised to hear that I’m rooting for Toy Story 3 for Best Animated Picture. I can’t say it’s a shoe-in though; last night I saw The Illusionist, and I must say it’s a masterpiece, with the sort of bittersweetness and depth that the Academy often seems to reward. I haven’t seen How to Train Your Dragon, and reviews have been good, but not good enough to make me think we’ve got an upset in the works, especially since the Academy saw fit to also nominate Toy Story 3 for Best Picture.

And about that . . . UNITE Here Local 362 doesn’t want Toy Story 3 winning Best Picture, as they explain on their blog:

Toy Story 3 is currently nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards. We will tell the public that the workers need to be rewarded and not Disney’s hypocrisy. Toy Story 3 encourages us to value what we have, but Disney doesn’t follow its own advice

Hmm. Not sure I follow their logic here exactly, and I’m not sure that valuing what we have is a central theme of Toy Story 3. I’d be surprised to see Toy Story 3 win Best Picture, but it does seem that if any animation house has a shot at taking that award home in my lifetime, it’s probably Pixar. To quote Fake John Lasseter, in that Onion piece:

Admit it: You numb-nuts are addicted to our genuine, three-dimensional characters. And you just can’t get enough of our ability to make an idiot robot that can barely even talk feel relatable. It’s okay to say you love it.

I don’t think I could bring myself to carry one of the Local 362 anti-Toy Story 3 signs. But were I going to be in the area, I’d still be at their protest this week:

Rally for a fair contract!

Wednesday, February 9

5pm to 7pm
Cross Roads
At the intersection of SR 535 & Hotel Plaza Blvd.
Any of my friends gonna be there? I’d love to hear first-hand reports, or receive pictures. Drop me a note if you’ll be in attendance.

TED: Dolby + Garniez play “La Vie en Rose”

4 Feb

In honor of Pixar’s 25th anniversary this week, may I suggest listening to this lovely rendition of La Vie en Rose by Thomas Dolby and Rachelle Garniez, from TED 2004? The handbells are almost as delightful as her voice.

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