Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pixar Makes Bolt?

I can dig that there's a lot of personnel overlap, but I think Newsweek has a detail wrong as it writes a profile on #35 of its Newsweek Fifty:

The animated features "Wall-E" and "Bolt," both produced by Pixar studios, where Lasseter is the chief creative officer, just received Golden Globe nominations for best picture ...

Obviously magazine fact-checkers aren't what they once were. (Thank Gawd for the intertubes.)

Bolt, I'm afraid, is going to make less at the U.S. box office than its predecessor Chicken Little, but more than Meet the Robinsons, which stalled out just south of $100 million.

I'm sure that the Disney Co. is wishing that the white doggie was up in Madagascar 2's air space, but it doesn't look like the picture is going to climb to that elevation.

More's the pity.


Anonymous said...

Well, given that Bolt is not a sequel, it's done okay. It's probably going to make it to 95 million this weekend, and there's the long Christmas/New Year weekends to come. And bear in mind that the international market has yet to be tapped. It's just that the poor dog got off on the wrong paw by being placed up against Twilight. It's just one of those nutty, unexpected, crazy things. That's show biz.

Anonymous said...

EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES. Its has under performed on all levels.

Lel said...

I'm in two minds about how well Bolt is doing, I'm happy... as if Princess and the frog does waaay better this may push them in the 2D direction but I'm bummed as I really don't like Madagascar, I hate it when characters are based on the actors that do the voice plus I'm not a huge fan of the style... its a little too gamey for me (if thats even a word)

Anonymous said...

the Disney brand has been destroyed, we are still haunted by eisner's mismanagement.

maybe in these times we can ask for a bailout.

Anonymous said...

sadly the Eisner Stainton regime did so much damage to the Disney name it is taking a very long time to clean out. Bolt is a good little film, hopefully people will discover it on DVD. I'm very much looking forward to Frog Princess and hand drawn animation again.

Universal released a really good animation film this week in Desperaux.

Anonymous said...

To Anon #2

20 bucks says you didnt see Bolt.

Anonymous said...

EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES. Its has under performed on all levels.

You call 85% on Rotten Tomatoes under-performing? Had Bolt not been released against Twilight, we'd all be having a very different discussion, plain and simple, no matter what you Disney-haters say. You cant predict the fan-fever of teeny-boppers fawning over a pretty-boy vampire.

When you ask anyone who hasnt seen Bolt what they think about it, they say "eh, not interested. Looks like a kiddie movie." But when you ask adults who actually saw Bolt, the vast majority of the time they say "wow, it was actually really good." THAT, my friends, is Marketing 101. You gotta get people interested to see it.

These arent excuses, these are basic marketing/business principles. Its no secret Disney has a good film on their hands (85% is no laughing number, hell Horton was in the 70's yet still managed a big box office), they just arent selling it right.

Reminds me of anoter marketing debacle...Surf's Up (who made even less than Bolt...not even 60mil domestically)

Anonymous said...

To Anon #2

20 bucks says you didnt see Bolt.

I'll let you keep your $20 since its real hard economic time.

I was there the whole time when they were doing the film. They got notes from Pixar that Mitten was too similar to Jessie story and they had to make subtle changes. John kept pulling back design because it was too push originally. I know the real conversation with Ed and John replacing Chris. So yes, you can think what you want. If it wasn't Twilight, you would have said it was 007 or Harry Potter. Maybe Bolt should be grateful that Harry was a no show.

Also I found an interesting quote from a Pixar Alum.

"I hope Kung Fu Panda sweeps this year’s Annies and Oscars. I found it more entertaining than WALL-E and in terms of design, it is hands down the boldest looking animated feature released this year, period. WALL-E is impressive but the Kung Fu design is truly inspired. Surely the best looking movie to come out of Dreamworks. I hope it at least sweeps in the design categories. In this case, I think Pixar can take a lesson from Dreamworks. Kung Fu Panda is a great CG “cartoon”, with design that is caricatured, appealing and not limited by photo-realism. Kudos to the Panda crew. Having worked on Incredibles, I know that trying something different can be a huge challenge. I don’t know how you guys did it. But you raised the bar."
– Lou Romano
Cartoon Brew 2008
Favorites - Jerry's Picks


Anonymous said...

Pixar is constantly making noise about "story is king", but in all truth story is not king at Pixar. Excluding Toy Story 1 and The Incredibles (both great films AND stories) the actual stories that have come out from Pixar have not been the best around by a long stretch. TS2 was decent, but they cheated the ending by setting up a Sophie's Choice and decided to have their cake and eat it too. Cars worked decently, but they screwed up the message when they actuall tried to alter the Doc Hollywood story and Nemo was a complete disaster as far as story goes with sequences being so modular they could be placed in any oder and not have any effect on the film flow. I won't even discuss Bug's Life, Monsters Inc, Ratatoullie (Brad did a great job of really polishing a story they should've shelved). I can't really discuss Wall-E yet since I fell asleep the first time I watched it. I'll have to try again later when I have more caffeine in me.
Don't get me wrong, their films are always entertaining and usually well received. And that I think is where Pixar has outpasses everyone else. They have learned to hype their films and their company better than anyone. But let's be absolutely honest - "story is king" - not really.
Now back to the matter at hand...Bolt and KFP (and I'll even suggest Mad2) are better stories than most of Pixar's films. Especially Bolt. There's a lot to dislike about Bolt (bland character designs, some mediochre voice acting), but despite it's too obvious storytelling it's story does work better than most of Pixar's films. I realize that in theory this is a Pixar film and if that's the case I would rank it after TS1 and The Incredibles as far as story goes in Pixar films.

Now let all the Pixies freak out.....LOL

The reason why it didn't do great in theaters has a lot to do with bad luck going against Twilight (whoever made that desision should be fired) and just ahving a film that look too familiar to everyone. But storywise they have nothing to be ashamed of...

Anonymous said...

Well Peanut, I was there the whole time too. You must be one of the former leads who got demoted and/or fired or some other disgruntled schmuck who spent more time in the caffeine patch or hiding out in the workroom than at their desk.

I suspect you get some sort of sick satisfaction out of watching Bolt do poorly, and for that, you oughta be ashamed. Because you KNOW how hard it was to pull A-dog out of the crapper and make something out of it. And you know what, I dont care WHAT you say, I'm proud of my work on Bolt, and how it came out as a film, and your high and mighty attitude cant change that. All I am saying is that Bolt is a good movie, and that you're incorrect in saying it underperformed in ALL levels. In my opinion, marketing/release date dropped the ball.

PS) What the heck does the Lou Romano quote have to do with Bolt anyway?

Fun With Mr. Future said...

No one needs to make "excuses" for Bolt . I don't think it has anything to be excused from except for the lackluster marketing (not the fault of the people who made the film) . The movie itself was good, but somehow it never connected with the general public in a big way. Yet, people who have actually seen the movie like it. Maybe Bolt is not the Greatest Film Ever (you know, like KFP ;-) ) , but it's very enjoyable. I'm glad I saw it.

Unfortunately I do think a bigger issue is what several other people pointed out above:

The overall strip-mining of the Disney Animation "brand" by the Eisner regime, plus the demoralizing dismantling of Disney's hand drawn animation dept. under Eisner and his henchman Stainton has made it difficult for Disney Animation to regain a firm foothold. The bad decisions of the last few years of the Eisner regime have continued to be a millstone around the collective neck of the Disney feature animation studio and the goodwill that had been built up with the public was lost and has yet to be regained.

They drove the Disney Animation brand into the ground with the poorly made cheapquels and the "shove it down yer throat till you CHOKE" marketing frenzies on things like "Disney Princesses" and the sad decline of the once premium Disney Channel, etc. ... it all adds up to the Disney name not being considered special anymore.

I know people who in years past would have eagerly rushed out to the theaters to see a new Disney animated film, who now have the attitude of "ho-hum... another one ? well, I'll get it on NetFlix in a couple of months . Yawn."

Not that it matters now, but let's not forget than many predicted this exact thing happening when the cheapquels started being cranked out. We objected that it would eventually kill off the Disney Animation brand when the market was over-saturated and the general public could no longer tell the difference in advance between a theatrical feature "event" film and just another damn sequel.

Dissenting voices at the time were put down and told not to worry about it . Supposedly the cheapquels would generate enough extra income for the company to keep Feature Animation going on the more expensive theatrical features (hmmm.. how'd that work out ?) , and we were assured that the unsophisticated slobs, the great unwashed "Wal-Mart shoppers in fly-over country" would always be glad to line up to buy more of the stuff on VHS and DVD , but they could still be counted on to show up to buy tickets for the theatrical features . Oh really ?! How's that work ? Who pays $8.00 - $10.00 at a movie theater to watch what they perceive is the same sort of stuff they can watch for free at home on TV or for a dollar or two from NetFlix ? (and to think those guys had MBA's from Ivy League schools , but they couldn't figure out the economics of that ? How did they end up running the show ? )

Yeah, yeah ... I know . Bitter, bitter, bitter. No crying over spilt milk , water under the bridge, change is good, yada , yada . Get over it ya old coot !


Anonymous said...

As nice as it would be to assign blame solely to the 'cheapquels' that's really not what the problem is or was. Maybe it had 'something' to do with the state Disney is in, but there is plenty of blame to go around.
There was also a little problem with just making bad movies. After LionKing there were few bright spots in Disney's animated releases and satrting with Pocahontas and Hunchback the decline moved rapidly. Tarzan, Mula Leilo & Stich were some of the exceptions but there were many more that drove the public away. At least the 'ceapquels' did what they were supposed to do: generate a good steady stewam of cash and keep the public reminded why they were supposed to like Disney to beging with by putting familiar charcaters in front of them and even helping to make films that weren't huge (HoND, Pocahontas, etc) generate income with sequels.
Blame can also be assigned to Pixar since they were outdisneying Disney in the same market.

You want to blame some individuals go ahead, but it wasn't just Eisner and the suits at fault. The artistic geniuses behind such 'classics' as Hecules, Atlantis, Dinosaur, Emperor's New Groove, Home on the Range, Brother Bear and especially Treasure Planet deserve their fair share.

Fun With Mr. Future said...

Yes, points taken. Plenty of other factors and "blame" to go around.

But I didn't assign the blame "solely" to the cheapquels, so we're not disagreeing about that.

Cheapquels were one factor in diluting the Disney Animation brand. There were others. Sure.

I think many of the people who worked on the movies you name (Hercules, New Groove, Brother Bear, Treasure Planet) were and are artistic geniuses. Unfortunately sometimes their best intentions and best work were compromised along the way.

Who gave the greenlight to the movies you name ? Who rushed them into production sometimes before they were ready ? (driving the budgets way up when the inevitable halt in production left a whole crew twiddling their thumbs while an emergency Story Brain Trust tried to figure out how to make the unresolved story points work) And then who continued to meddle in them and diluted them until they were a mere shadow of what they might have been ?

rufus said...

when regular people reffer to 'Bolt' as the latest 'Pixar' movie, it sends a message that the Disney brand has been forgotten!

Way to go Stainton and Eisner!


Anonymous said...

But is Bolt really doing that badly? It's not a blockbuster, but recently it's been holding its own at the box office, or "showing strength", as USA Today put it. The fact that it's racked up 95 mil so far despite Twilight, despite Four Christmases, despite Disney's bumbling marketing campaign, should count for SOMETHING!

And I agree that the guy that says Bolt has failed on all levels is just another Chris Sanders sycophant. Bolt is a great film. I will be making yet another trip to the multiplex this coming Christmas to see it. And I'll be bringing my nephews with me.

MTRsucked! said...

Hmmm...I don't feel 'Bolt' was such a great film. It was quite formulaic and predictable, but it WAS entertaining. It also managed to avoid getting cutesy and obnoxious like it's predecessor did("Meet the Robinsons")

I did not hate 'Bolt',just wished it was I little more profound, in some way. The opening was very well executed, and the animation on the pigeons was great. There was lots of nice designs on the secondary characters, like, the network lady and the agent(McDowell)

Since I truly hated MTR, "Bolt"is definetly a big improvement.


Bestia said...

It wasnt just the opening date If they continue giving enormous promotion to things like HSM3, tis will happen again and again. Let's hope Princess won't flop, for if that happens we can start saying bye to 2D animation

Anonymous said...

My feeling is they stacked the deck against 2d. If John were REALLY serious about making 2d work he would've put his best Pixar people on the project. If he had put Bird on it, the A Pixar story crew and used one of their Pixar concepts that were originally slated for CG and shifted it to 2d then I would take him wanting to save Disney 2d seriously.
Sure, the argument is to do it with Disney 2d people and the whole 'teach a man to fish' thing, but it's more important to have a hit 2d film then who actually made it. The public doesn't care if it were made by a Pixar crew pretending to be Disney or the nine old men raised from the grave.

Anonymous said...

2d is cheaper and the animation is more fluid. It took 5 plus years to finally realize that. Looking forward to seeing 2d again, both mediums have their advantages.

Anonymous said...

when regular people refer to 'Bolt' as the latest 'Pixar' movie, it sends a message that the Disney brand has been forgotten!

Or is it that people liked Bolt so much they thought it was a Pixar movie? Ive heard many "regular" (non animation) people say how much they liked Bolt over Wall-e.

If John were REALLY serious about making 2d work he would've put his best Pixar people on the project.

Dude, there are some SERIOUS heavy hitters on Princess and the Frog, who have been around MUCH longer than any Pixar employee... Off the top of my head: Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, Mark Henn. I mean come on, your comment sounds ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Actually, "dude", that comment makes a lot of sense. If I were in charge and I had hit after hit with my company and if I wanted to prove something to the public about 2D I think I would use the "Heavy Hitters" from the films that had been recently successful.

And BTW Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg and Mark Henn have almost nothing to do with whether the film is a hit or not - sure they're good animators, but they've all worked on films that have been complete flops as well as hits. The public isn't as concerned about whether the animation is great or not - remeber "story is king". The person above was talking about directors and story crew and projects.
And while Clements and Musker directed two of the bigger hits at the studio (20 years ago) they were also responsible for two of the studios bigger flops (more recently).

Anonymous said...

If anyone bothers to read farther down into the article, it goes on to state that Princess and the Frog is ALSO to be a "Pixar" release.

Doesn't anyone at Newsweek do fact-checking?

Anonymous said...

**Doesn't anyone at Newsweek do fact-checking?**

It didn't bother to do it during the presidential election, why should it start now?


Anonymous said...

If anyone bothers to read farther down into the article, it goes on to state that Princess and the Frog is ALSO to be a "Pixar" release.
Doesn't anyone at Newsweek do fact-checking?

Or maybe Newsweek knows something we don't?

Anonymous said...

no Newsweek checked out awhile ago. they dont seem to get it on many fronts from politics to cartoons they have no fact checkers over there. Maybe thats why they do so poorly.

jeremiah said...

I really enjoyed Bolt. I think anybody who has seen the movie will tell you that the animation was top notch. I hope it gets legs.

rufus said...

"Or is it that people liked Bolt so much they thought it was a Pixar movie?"

Sounds to me like wishful thinking on your part.

Besides, I went to see Bolt, and they showed that new pixar short with the characters from "Cars", so I see how some may confuse who made what.

"Bolt" was ok, not great, just ok.

I'd agree the animation was good. Very good sense of weight, and some great acting, but the plot felt like was borrowed from other movies. A bit of "Toy Story" here, a bit of "Benji" over there...


Anonymous said...


Perhaps it is wishful thinking, but for me personally, I would rank Bolt up there with most Pixar movies. It sure beats most of what Dreamworks produces (KFP excluded) and Blue Sky does some cool stuff, but the only negative thing I can think to say about Bolt was that it was unoriginal plot-wise.

And honestly, for me, it was better than Wall-e. I keep trying to watch Wall-e again and I just cant watch past the first act. Very appealing character though. Bolt, on the other hand, Ive watched several times and its just as good over and over.

PS) On another note, I DID hear a legitimate rumor about building a "Pixar South..." So maybe Newsweek knows more than we think...

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