Wednesday, January 07, 2009

At the Big Mouse

Part of my day was spent wandering the ever-popular hat building of Disney Animation Studios. Everybody was friendly and chatty ...

Rapunzel, I'm told, is poised to launch into production after a lengthy pre-production.

It's gone through different permutations. Used to be pretty dark, but not it's lightened up a lot and going to be a musical. We're pretty near to getting it rolling into the production phase.

An artist upstairs -- who I've known for years -- agreed with me that Twilight did the White Doggie no favors by opening the same day and date:

I think it was a marketing screwup. Twilight hurt us. After the film came out, John Lasseter insisted the marketing department do a post-mortem the same way that the animation department does. Marketing didn't want to, said it knew what it was doing, said it never did post-mortems, but this time they did one.

And John had some hard things to say about their work ...

My take has been that Twilight did a good job suppressing the Disney toon's first weekend gross. Obviously, it's conjecture how Bolt might have done had it premiered four days later or a week before. But the fact that the picture has performed well after that first weekend reinforces my opinion the white pooch received more than a flesh wound from the sexy zombie picture.

Horror movies -- even mild, 'tween-centered horror movies -- are generally front-loaded performers. And Twilight wasn't an exception.

Ah well. Everybody has their own half-baked opinion, and mine is as half-baked as anybody's. There is, in the end, only what happened. Nobody can know "what would have happened IF ..."

Here's hoping the picture burns up the turnstiles overseas. And knocks them dead on DVD this Spring.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

How's production on the princess and the frog coming along?

Anonymous said...

What happens at an animation post-mortem?

Anonymous said...

Animation post-mortems acknowledge what worked and what didnt. Character designs, animation styles, story points, quota, tools, rigs, leads, supervisors, etc etc.

And correct me if Im wrong, but Bolt hasnt opened in a ton of countries yet right? Like, the UK and France and Germany. Seems like there's money to be made there too.

Anonymous said...

"Madagascar 2" opens that same weekend and "Twilight" would be the film that took the hit. If people wanna see a flick, they see it. "Bolt" didn't do well, because as many people who wanted to see it, saw it.

Anonymous said...

No, Bolt took a hit because many people didn't even know it existed. And those that did, saw commercials that made it look like ass.

Anonymous said...

Twilight would have easily buried Madagascar 2 if they'd shared an opening weekend. They're both pretty awful movies, but Twilight had and has an enormous built in fan base that's far more rabid than kiddies who have to beg their parents to see a cartoon.

Anonymous said...

-- "Madagascar 2" opens that same weekend and "Twilight" would be the film that took the hit.
--

You have GOT to be kidding.

Cheering on the Sidelines said...

Bravo to Lassiter, putting the marketing people in their place! Reading that made my day. It's called, taking responsibility for the whole thing. That's obviously how Pixar became so successful. Finally, Disney has real creative leadership for the first time since 1967. I hope this portends the end of Eisner corporatethink. He wanted Disney run like any other corporation, and to the detriment of the company's brand, creative product and morale, he succeeded. At least Lassiter knows that Disney did not become what it became because it was run like Coca-Cola.

Just give John the ball and tell him to run up the middle. We will all score.

Anonymous said...

Twilight made more opening weekend than Madagascar 2. And it's made more domestically as well. It's just beginning to open overseas, where I seriously doubt it'll do as well--especially in Transylvania, where vampires are passe'.

It's cleared a lot more money than Madagascar, as well--it only cost $35 million to make. And it had no major stars and above the line payouts and residuals.

Twilight is for tweens, while Madagascar is for toddlers.

Anonymous said...

Disney marketing screwed up the Narnia sequel, too. Not that it was the greatest movie ever (they need a director with real vision to pull those off), but it was better than the first and a fine film. And although Ratatouille was the best reviewed film of 2007, it didn't do as well as it should have because of the lame marketing. The marketing for "Wall-e" seemed much better, but it had Pixar's fingerprints all over it, and there's no doubt it was Disney's major stockholder Steve Jobs' doing, thank goodness.

Disney marketing better shape up. They should stop thinking that they work at "just another studio." They don't. Disney needs to be made "special" again, and that means everyone on every level firing on all cylinders to support each other. The departmental fife-dom and political infighting that the Eisner era ushered and fostered has got to stop.

Give 'em hell, Mr. Lasseter.

Anonymous said...

Wow...It's so nice to have someone to blame that isn't one of your heroes, isn't it?

Sure mmarketing could have been better (that's always the case), but virtually everyone in the target audience knew about Bolt and made a conscience decision not to go see it.
If Marketing was responsible for putting Bolt head to head with Twilight then they definitely deserve a huge amount of blame, but I don't think that's their call - or, at least, not their call alone.
Personally I enjoyed Bolt and so did my wife (even though she had no interest in watching it from the ads), but I think a lot of the blame has to go to whoever decided on greenlighting the project, whoever signed off on the milquetoast character designs, and whoever decided to include Miley Cyrus in the voice cast (that was enough to keep the Twilight crowd away from the film - my 14 year old daughter still won't watch it though her and her friends all went out of their way to see Madagascar2).

There's plenty of blame to go around and Marketing deserves their share, but it's not only their fault.

I'm curious what were the results of the animation post-mortem? Or did they conclude it was Marketings fault?

Justin said...

I disagree with the statement, "everyone in the target audience knew about Bolt."

From Marketing's own mouth they were targeting a four quadrant audience. Male and female, old and young. However when I went home for the holidays no one outside of my immediate family had ever heard of Bolt. None of my aunts and uncles or cousins. Not my sister-in-law with twin girls. Not my wife's former boss with 4 kids. Not my wife's 23 year old former co-worker. Not my best friend's parents. When they asked me what I was working on and I replied Bolt they asked, "What's that about?" Quite literally no one I talked to other than my parents and brothers knew what Bolt was.

nobody said...

The folks at marketing are showing they are quite arrogant when they say "they know what they are doing". Does not sound like synergy to me when they try to refuse to listen to Mr. Lasseter.

Anonymous said...

"Animation post-mortems acknowledge what worked and what didnt. Character designs, animation styles, story points, quota, tools, rigs, leads, supervisors, etc etc."

==--==

I'm curious about these post-mortems. Is this something the whole crew (or who is left anyway) takes part in? Or is it only the leads/supervisors? Or is it only the producers/management asking questions to a select few?

Is it a questionnaire? A group meeting in a conference room? One on one interviews?

Sorry for the blitz of questions. Our small studio does no such thing and I'd like to incorporate such a thing.

Anonymous said...

Our small studio does no such thing and I'd like to incorporate such a thing.

It's different at every studio, but usually it starts with a questionnaire from all the animators, and then the leads/supes go over it and discuss/communicate it upwards.

Anonymous said...

From Marketing's own mouth they were targeting a four quadrant audience. Male and female, old and young. However when I went home for the holidays no one outside of my immediate family had ever heard of Bolt. None of my aunts and uncles or cousins. Not my sister-in-law with twin girls. Not my wife's former boss with 4 kids. Not my wife's 23 year old former co-worker. Not my best friend's parents. When they asked me what I was working on and I replied Bolt they asked, "What's that about?" Quite literally no one I talked to other than my parents and brothers knew what Bolt was.

Are they living under a rock? Lasseter rolled out all the stops for this film. I was there when he said how much marketing they were doing and how important it was for the studio. Lasseter did everything can, the audience is just not there. Maybe it will have a Great Christmas box office. Maybe its because of Twilight, maybe its blah blah blah. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

but virtually everyone in the target audience knew about Bolt and made a conscience decision not to go see it.

"Knowing" about a movie and "wanting to go see it" are TWO DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT THINGS, and both are the job of the marketing team. If a marketing team is successful, they can get you to go see even a crappy movie. Marketing is a total failure if they cant sell tickets to a GOOD movie. Bolt was the only "certified fresh" movie in theaters for 3-4 weeks in a row, and there was NO ad campaign reflecting how critically successful Bolt was. I never saw a commercial on TV indicating that Bolt is a high quality film for everyone, not just kids. It was a non-event. Disney's marketing team banked on the (illegitimate) star power of Miley Cyrus and John Travolta to bring the crowd in. Big mistake.

Personally I enjoyed Bolt and so did my wife (even though she had no interest in watching it from the ads)

You just proved my point. People who havent seen Bolt have no interest in it, yet, those who have, really liked it. So therefore, there wasnt anything wrong with the character design or voice casting or that the project was greenlit. The problem occurred 95% with marketing.

working for less said...

A posting about the mouse house and no mention of the recent notice artists there have received that they are switching to a 45 hour work week at the SAME weekly pay. (hourly employees thus take an 18.5% pay cut) salaried employees.. execs, leads and such who don't take the same cut... This seems like an actual TAG issue. where is the union when these sorts of decisions are made?

Anonymous said...

Why can't you just admit that folks just did not warm up to the movie.

You win some you lose some.

Stop pointing the finger of blame at the release date or marketing.

There are only a handful of folks responsible for the success or failure of a movie. The director, the art director, and writers. They craft the story and the look. The crew - the rank and file simply executes what they are told to do.

The crew does not write the story. The crew does not decide on the look of the film nor the style of animation.

Its amazing how company leadership in this case John and Ed just can't admit that folks simply did not like it enough to be a B.O. hit. I realize that they can't say it in public cause part of their job is to be the company 's cheerleader being a public representative but I am sure that in private they know.

Yes there were some folks who saw BOLT and liked it but the public has spoken. Chalk one up to the loss column and move on to Rapunzel.

Thus far I am not impressed by John and Ed's takeover of the Burbank studio. Of course the fanboys will say - give it time - these things take time. I think that since Pixar has managed to be a consistently successful studio - so far and I say so far because in Hollywood you are only as good as your last film the expectations are very high for a quick turnaround. They have implemented their "story trust" philosophy where directors help out each other etc. with the creative leadership in burbank.

So the $64,000 question is what is the problem with burbank. We know what the problems in Burbank were in the past prior to the Pixar merge but what about now.

By process of elimination the problem with the burbank studio is not with the crew - the rank and file. They are very talented to execute what they are told to do.

The problem IMHO is with the leadership who are giving the orders. Not with John and Ed but with leadership folks who still have remained at the Hat building after the merger. They put out a weak story with BOLT at least as far as the general public is concerned by the B.O. performance. I think some of thefolks need to be replaced with fresh talent who are capable of telling good stories.

The problem isn't just with the creative leadership but technical as well. Pipelines, Workflows and Conventions are just as important since they determine the toolset and procedures that the crew has to work under. The wrong toolset and process wastes a users time by making their job harder or take longer to accomplish which result which ends up creating a higher budget. The higher the budget the less profit to be made. How a user spends their time is important.

Burbank reminds me of Ramsey's kitchen nightmares on BBC America. You're a establishment that was in desperate need for a make over and Ramsey shows up (John & Ed) but as Ramsey says your still in the shit.

I would like to see the Burbank development slate wiped clean and started from scratch instead of using residue from projects that were in development before the merger. I think that is some of the problem - using the framework of projects that were in development and making tweaks here and there. Essentially passing an old story through the Pixar story trust filter. Its like you have a bunch of leftovers in your fridge and you try to make some new recipes from them. There might be some bits and pieces (leftovers) that John & Ed find to be salvageable but I feel starting from scratch would be best.

Lets face it leftovers never taste good.

Anonymous said...

7.5 bil

Anonymous said...

Why can't you just admit that folks just did not warm up to the movie

Because thats not factual. That would be the discussion we'd be having if Bolt got a 42% on rotten tomatoes. But the fact of the matter is, people who DID see Bolt really liked it (many of them more than any other offering from any other studio this year) but people didnt go see it.

Why? Marketing. You can belabor your point all day (and many of the things you're saying regarding WDAS is true) but its NOT the reason Bolt didnt sell tickets.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous just above

Yes there are some folks who saw it and liked it but not enough to generate B.O.

Rotten Tomato's generate its rating (fresh or rotten) based on critics. Films are made for the public not the critics. The public pays money to see a movie not a critic. There are those who are capable of thinking for themselves whether or not to see a movie ans those who read what a critic says who decides for them whether or not to see a movie. I feel sorry for those who need to rely on a critic. Its like having someone wipe your backside after doing your business cause you are incapable of doing it yourself and thats unfortunate.

So while some folks saw it and liked the MAJORITY has spoken and BOLT did not succeed.

As far as marketing goes that ONLY helps to get folks in on opening weekend. The true determiner of success in my book is does the movie have legs. Legs are grown by word of mouth not critics and marketing.

As far as legs for BOLT while there were folks who saw the movie and liked there were not enough who liked it to give word of mouth to grow legs. That indicates to me that not alot of folks warmed up to the movie.

Anonymous said...

...and it's been widely reported Bolt DID have legs, despite it's miserable marketing campaign. (made more on its second weekend than it's first, outlasted other competitive films for screenings, etc)

Imagine how much money Bolt WOULD have made if it had a successful opening weekend (product of marketing), or had a follow-up campaign touting the critical response to Bolt. It would be in the 190-200 million range (domestic) right now instead of 110.

And regarding your point about critics, of course you should rely on your own taste in terms of what movies you want to watch, but critical consensus is a pretty accurate barometer to gauge the general public's response as well. Dont you think it's safe to say that probably about 85% of people who saw Bolt would have given it a "good" rating? Unless you disagree with this concept, I'd say your point is moot.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the concept that critical taste is in line with the public's taste. The percentage of a fresh or rotten rating does not correspond to the public.

BOLT DID NOT have legs. If it did it would have made more money.

What about folks who didn't see the movie in the opening weekend due to poor marketing or Twilight as all of you say. Well if folks saw it on the second weekend or third and loved it so much then where is the B.O. Where's the beef.

No matter what weekend people saw it enough of them didn't like it enough to give GOOD word of mouth.

The reality is that it failed. Get over it and move on.

Anonymous said...

Bolt is currently running an over 4x multiplier.

That's better legs than Wall-E.

Anonymous said...

Also better multiplier than Dark Knight.

Anonymous said...

Bolt has a better multiplier than Dark Knight, Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Hancock, WALL-E, Kung-Fu Panda, Twilight, Madagascar 2, Quantum of Solace, Horton Hears a Who, and just about every ultra-wide release this year.

Only "Mamma Mia!" had better legs than Bolt (And I don't mean Meryl Streep's).


Bolt most certainly does have legs. It's one of the leggiest films of the year. And still going, I might add.

Anonymous said...

Dont bother wasting your breath. Obviously this person has no understanding of marketing.

Anonymous said...

I will agree that critical reviews are just part of the picture. Milk got much better reviews than Bolt, but it won't make more than Bolt did. That's not a marketing failure, it's just that some films will appeal to movie critics yet have a more niche appeal with the general audience.

But to say that Bolt doesn't have legs is kind of clueless. Look at the numbers before you say something like that. The box office take is sizable, but an underperformer. But one thing you can't say about it is that it didn't have legs. Facts are just facts.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it has a great multiplyer.
Wow. Such great word of mouth. Look at all the money its raking in.

Actually the official definition of the term legs is how long a movie lasts in the theatres.

Yes BOLT is still in the theatres but not because its making money hand over fist its because theatres at this time of year don't really have much - basically the academy award contenders which historically don't make gobs of money. Remember multiplexes have to have programming. I would say at this point BOLT is basically filler for theatres. The theatre count will be dropping in the next couple of weeks.

Time to face reality folks. I know its tuff and you want to cling to every excuse that you can conjure up but alas reality.

Anonymous said...

Interesting debate strategy.

First you acknowledge that it has a strong multiplier, but then bat that away with sarcasm as if a strong multiplier doesn't mean that it had staying power past first weekend at the box office.

Then you say that 'legs' doesn't mean multiplier, it means staying in the theater... but then you admit that it's still in a lot of theaters! Um... doesn't that mean by your definition that it DOES have legs? Changing the goalposts, eh?

Everyone here knows the box office total. There's a lot of good understanding to be taken away from this incident. There's a lot to learn about the film, its style, its content, its timing, its storyline, its marketing, its character design, its casting, etc....


But you won't learn those lessons by making arguments based on specious data. It had staying power at the box-office, that is clear. It made more in its second week-end than it did in its first. It's got a multiplier better than almost every wide release this year. Which means to say that the claim that it didn't have legs doesn't hold water. It's not me you're arguing with, its the facts.

Resorting to sarcasm and changing the goalpoasts when you can't hold an argument with the facts says something about your ability to put ego aside and understand what's really happening. It's the opposite of how you fix things at an artist-led studio.

You won't learn if you'd rather "win" an argument than look clearly at the information. I've heard all the criticisms of Bolt, and you didn't list anywhere near the half of them. But the plain truth of the matter was that a lack of legs wasn't what happened in this instance.

Often you can learn more from a failure than from a success. I hope that a lot of learning comes from Bolt, and knowing the people involved, I know it will.

One thing I have learned is that people's first reaction is often to come with an axe to grind, and the moment a film performs behind expectations, everyone immediately knows that it did so because of whatever their pet complaint had been all along.

The wise look past their own assumptions and actually look at the data. They don't use sarcasm, they don't use snark when presented with data that counters their preconceived notions. They look at the information with open eyes and a mind that seeks to understand the truth instead of merely trying to win an argument or put their own view and ego ahead of the facts.

If you've got a better way to contribute, you are welcome to join us. Come help us make the next movie better.

Lionel said...

"[Rapunzel] Used to be pretty dark, but not it's lightened up a lot and going to be a musical".

Again...Scary.

Still Cheering said...

You guys are all missing the point. It doesn't matter if Bolt has "legs" or not and obviously every film can't be a blockbuster-certainly every live action film isn't and isn't expected to be.

The point is, some corporate snot tried to put Lasseter in his "place" and he stood up to them. If you have spent any time working for the Mouse in recent years, you know what an accomplishment that was. It's like; "Hey, you put me in charge. Now, am I running this thing or not?" They complained for years that nobody is willing to lead the way that Disney did. As soon as someone steps up, they try to knock him down. From what I hear, it is still a work in progress. Lasseter still has to fight for control of aspects of production he should be taking for granted. Hopefully these busybodies will learn to stand down and get out of his way, for the sake of the company and the business in general.

Anonymous said...

You're also missing the point. Once again Lasseter is not to blame for something done under his watch. This time it's Marketing's fault.
Sure marketing can take some blame, but as said earlier it was the boneheaded thinking that they could be Twilight that is the main blame. Who made that decision? As head of the studio are you suggesting Lasseter had no vote on that at all?
AND once again you can't balme Marketing for the fact that the public didn't get excited enough to get off their couches to see afilm that appeared stale. Could they have convinced the public thaqt despite the stale designs the bad voice casting and too familiar plot there was a reason to go see the film? maybe. But that would've meant telling the public that what there eyes were seeing was wrong. The marketing accurately represented what the film really was. AND if your particular relatives weren't aware of this film then they obviously don't watch TV or go to see movies. The ads were THICK for Bolt weeks and weeks prior to its release on TV (and not just on kids' channels) and in theaters playing with any G and PG film.

Could it be Lasseter doesn't have the magic touch afterall?

Anonymous said...

The marketing accurately represented what the film really was

I disagree, and that is almost the crux of my argument. Based on the trailers and advertising, I (and a LOT of people in my experience) thought Bolt looked dumb. But after seeing it, I thought it was one of the best animated films in the last several years.

Yes, I blame Lasseter for some of his marketing choices (going on the Bonnie Hunt show, c'mon, and I thought the Bolt trailers were lame) and he is ultimately to blame for allowing the marketing to be so pathetic. But I have to wonder how much of that was in his control, and if he's still struggling to whip them into shape.

Max said...

Yes, anyone who actually saw the movie couldn't possibly conclude that "the advertising accurately what the film really was."

Anyone who makes that comment just didn't see the movie. To the person who made that statement, a little test: what major city were Bolt and Mittens in when they had their big argument and "breakup"? Anyone who actually saw the movie will know.

And yes, as a previous commenter said, that comment IS the crux of the argument. Everyone agrees the box office was very disappointing, and the movie will never make its money back. But some are arguing that that, de facto, proves that the movie was bad, the Sanders decision was wrong, etc. etc. They are suggesting that the public didn't like the movie.

But I would conclude that the public didn't like the advertising campaign, which gave them no reason to suspect that the movie had a compelling storyline that could appeal to grownups as much as kiddies. Word of mouth will help--and it has, as the movie clearly has legs. But the damage was done on opening weekend, and there's no real returning from that.

Anonymous said...

There's truth on several sides of this debate. Bolt is a good movie, not a great one. It's likeable, but not astounding. So its box office to some degree must reflect this failure to arouse intense interest and excitement in the public. Also, the premise of the story of Bolt is not especially "high concept". It's more on the conventional side.

But it's also apparent that it wasn't marketed well. It is my experience, too, that the GP didn't know about it. I've asked friends and acquaintances all over the US and most of them, including their children, had never heard of it until I told them. But this is anecdotal, not scientific.

And, who knows? I never thought that Emperor's New Groove was a great movie, but many (non industry) people have told me over the years that it's their absolute favorite and they LOVE it. So go figure.

Ask yourself said...

"What if a dog DIDN'T have super powers?"

"What if an elephant COULDN'T fly?"

"What if your English nanny WASN'T magic?"

Where's the fun? Where's the fantasy? Where's the wish-fulfillment?

Anonymous said...

Bolt the dog doesn't have superpowers. Unless being boring is a superpower.

Anonymous said...

I saw the advertisng campaign and I saw the movie. I enjoyed the film, but there was nothing in it that made me think the ads weren't accurate.
So what if the ads didn't give away every cool location and plot point. The ads gave enough of the story and visuals for me to make up my mind - and my wife and 14 year old as well. We all decided not to go see it (my 14 year was really against seeing it and still refuses to see it).
Even after having seen it I'm still glad that I was able to watch it on DVD and not had to spend big bucks to go see it.

My guess is it will do very well on DVD and the word of mouth will help it do that.

And the guy who keeps talking about how well Bolt did the 2nd weekend you really have to take into account that the 2nd weekend was a holiday weekend. All the films did better.
If Disney had been smart they would've released it on that 2nd weekend and not on the one before it. They would've avoided the Twilight juggernaut and had a Really Good opening BO and it would've been perceived as a bigger hit.
marketing had nothing to work with that second weekend once it was perceived as not a hit in the firstr weekend. What should their ads say after that? The No 1 film with a white talking dog in it?

A film needs to be perceived as a hit and that opening weekend tally and placement on the charts is crucial to that perception. Even if Bolt finally does LionKing numbers but it took a year to do that it still wouldn't be perceived as a hit (not to mention that the longer a film is in the theaters the less money is generated foir the distributor and everyone else).

Bolt was an enjoyable film, but it wasn't a big enough film to get families out into the theater to seei it. There a re alot of enjoyable films and many of them have even better reviews than Bolt. That doesn't make them films that will draw an audience.
Stop looking for someone to blame. The minute Bolt was greenlit the cards were against it, then add to that putting Miley Cyrus in the cast and then add to that putting it up against Twilight and there's little to nothing Marketing could've done to get butts into those seats.

Anonymous said...

I wish films were like gaming. In gaming for instance on the xbox I can play a demo of an upcoming game and I can decide on whether to plunk down $60 for it.

Films are not like games. There are no demos. I can't sit in a theatre for the first 20 mins and then if I like the movie stay and pay for it.

As a moviegoer films are a risk. You never really know what the film is like until you see it. Marketing campaigns can be deceitful by painting a picture of a movie that isn't true. Yes they show scenes from the film but they are cut in a way that creates an emotional impression/response.

Basically people make a decision to see a film based on 2 mins. Marketing for films are designed to get folks to see it on the opening weekend. If a film does well on the opening weekend it gives the IMPRESSION that its a good movie. The movie could be crap but oh well too late for the folks who paid money to see it opening weekend but WORD OF MOUTH is were the truth of a movie comes out.

Hopefully in the succeeding weeks of a films release truth triumphs over manipulative marketing. Like when a studio says go see the #1 comedy blah blah blah. Again this is after the fact after people paid for the movie. Do we know if a majority of folks who saw a film opening weekend liked the movie NO but its number 1 so its MUST BE GOOD. Thats the impression. The movie is number one so everyone must like it.

In the case of BOLT folks went to see it on the opening weekend because of marketing thats what marketing does. The next week it made good B.O. but it was a holiday and all of the movies made money since folks had time off thats no real indicator. Holidays will skew the numbers.

So what has happened to BOLT in the weeks following. Thats where word of mouth takes over from marketing. We can talk about multipliers which are a measure of word of mouth. Now did BOLT have word of mouth, yes. Were there folks who saw the movie liked it and told others, yes BUT not enough folks to make it a hit. So that tells me that more folks did not like it as opposed to those who did. If the majority of folks liked it as some of you say than why the low B.O. Good word of mouth generates $$.

You can desperately cling to excuses or metrics to try to prove that more folks liked it than folks who didn't and why it didn't make money and what time of year it was released and what movies it was up against and blah blah blah but the B.O. doesn't lie.

Just because YOU liked BOLT doesn't mean a majority of the public did. If a majority of folks liked it and then spread the good word then it would have a much higher B.O.

So the public has made its decision.

John and Ed didn't hit it out of the park. I know that upsets alot of you who are fanboys but thats the reality of filmmaking you win some you lose some. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Hope their postmortem included the fact that BOLT opened during the rollout of the worst economic disaster since WWII. The impending absense of cashflow that moviegoers (or their parents)felt was an undeniable factor in the purchase of movie tickets.

Anonymous said...

"BOLT opened during the rollout of the worst economic disaster since WWII."


Again, people are asserting things that the data just doesn't back up.

Thanksgiving weekend was the biggest thanksgiving 5-day at the box office since 2000.

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/01/business/fi-boxoffice1


"And the guy who keeps talking about how well Bolt did the 2nd weekend you really have to take into account that the 2nd weekend was a holiday weekend. All the films did better. "

That's not true. Look at the numbers:

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=2008&wknd=48&p=.htm

The only film in wide release to see an uptick that weekend was Bolt. Twilight sank 62%. Quantum sank 29.5.


Listen, there are enough things to chew over with Bolt that one does not need to argue with reality to do so.

There are a lot of people who are posting as anonymous, and so it may be hard to understand exactly who is writing what. I'm not the same person who is blaming marketing. In fact, I haven't blamed anyone or exhonorated anyone.

If I have complaints or suggestions about the filmmaking or the business aspects of Disney, I don't air them here in the union hall. I say them to the people at work.

The only thing I have posted about in this thread are the incorrect assertions that the film didn't have legs, or that it wasn't the only film to have an uptick in its second weekend.

As I said before, there is a lot we can learn from this situation. But we will not learn those things if they are clouded by assertions that run counter to the data.

I have my own thoughts and feelings about what went right and what went wrong. I'm not agreeing with or denying anything about the quality or the culpability of the film or the team.

I'm merely correcting some mis-assertions.

Anonymous said...

For completeness and further enlightenment, here are the 5 day numbers for Thanksgiving, Bolt's second weekend:

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/thanksgiving/?yr=2008


Again, not all wide-releases saw an uptick, as Twilight dropped 43%.

Among wide-releases, Bolt saw the biggest uptick, gaining 37.3%.

Steve Hulett said...

A posting about the mouse house and no mention of the recent notice artists there have received that they are switching to a 45 hour work week at the SAME weekly pay. (hourly employees thus take an 18.5% pay cut) salaried employees.. execs, leads and such who don't take the same cut... This seems like an actual TAG issue. where is the union when these sorts of decisions are made?

Ah. Not a regular visitor to these parts, are you? Back in mid December there was this by yours truly:

http://animationguildblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/disney-q.html

Hope this clears up any confusion.

Anonymous said...

Again everyone is trying to cling to metrics and reasons why to justify your reasoning cause you refuse to admit that a bunch of folks just didn't like it.

Marketing, Multipliers, Upticks, Downticks and I love the new reason injected into this thread, economic disaster. You're all clinging. If if if...Balls said the queen if I had two I would be king...if. If's don't cut it folks. Its called reality.

Its all in the numbers....

Anonymous said...

"Again everyone is trying to cling to metrics and reasons why to justify your reasoning cause you refuse to admit that a bunch of folks just didn't like it. "

Not willing to discuss the issue or fingerpoint either at marketing, content or leadership on this forum is not the same thing as refusing to admit that the film has flaws.

Please don't confuse me with the other posters. By the same token, understand that I am not going to discuss the things you seem to want to discuss.

I am not discussing in this thread whether or not people liked the film, or any of the reasons for the film's success or failure.

I like the film, I'm proud of my work in it, and I have terrific fondness for the entire team from the directors and the producer on down. I'd have liked the film to have done more business, but I'm glad it didn't do less. I liked that we had positive critical reception for the most part, and I'm glad my family enjoyed the film. That's the sum total of what I'm willing to say about it online.

However there were some non-factual assertions made about the numbers, and I posted here to point people to a website that has actual numbers.

Bob and Rob Professional American Writers said...

47 comments and counting...looks like an early contender for '09's "most comments in a year", award. Good luck to all the nominees!

Anonymous said...

John and Ed didn't hit it out of the park. I know that upsets alot of you who are fanboys but thats the reality of filmmaking you win some you lose some. Get over it.

And see, when I read this comment, it instantly makes me think you have a bone to pick with Disney or something, and the comments you're making are biased and based on your personal taste. Or it implies we're all doe-eyed fanboys incapable of criticizing our beloved idols.

If YOU didnt like Bolt, fine, no one cares. But we arent talking about whether or not you liked it, we're talking about why a film that has garnered critical praise, and generated significant word-of-mouth ticket sales did less than expected at the box office.

You can air your disdain for the Disney leadership all you want, but it doesnt do anything for the discussion other than just imply bias.

Now, back on topic:

Good word of mouth generates $$.

Yes. And thats the only reason Bolt made any money, but word of mouth only takes you so far (otherwise, we'd never need advertising, ever). Had it had a more successful marketing campaign (higher quality, not necessarily higher quantity), then more people would have known how decent of a movie it was, and it would have tracked much better.

Then again, it's made much more than Surf's Up. Talk about a REAL marketing disaster.

Anonymous said...

Surf's Up is a decent comparison for a couple of reasons. Even though Sony Marketing didn't have nearly the budget or the venues to advertise as Disney it suffered from sort of the same problem.
There was little to nothing they could've done to get butts into seats for another penguin film - and one that was hard to discern from Happy Feet to the GP. Sony could've spent a billion on marketing and it wouldn't have done any good - just as Disney could've spent twice as much on their marketing and people still weren't going to get excited about Bolt - and Twilight already owned the weekend even before it opened.
Some are trying to make the claim that no one was aware of the film...I make the claim that those that were aware of the film didn't care. AND it wasn't due to poor marketing - the film was sold as what it was. No one I know that saw Bolt said they were misled by the marketing.
AND like Surf's Up both films were nice little films that were enjoyable once someone saw it. Very few that I know complain about either actual film other than to say they're cute but forgetable.Both stories tracked well and both had good hearts, but neither rose up above the standard.

Let's face it, if Bolt had been from another studio it would've been a big sucess, but coming from Disney (AND Lasseter) expectations were riding higher.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised nobody has pinned any blame on the title change. "American Dog" may not have been any more descriptive than "Bolt" but it certainly evoked a bigger, more intriguing movie, I think.

I'm not sure it mattered to the general public maybe, but as charming as Bolt was, the lead character was just flat and the patchwork quilt of Pixar tropes seemed a little worn out. I do wonder if they outsmarted themselves with the Miley Cyrus stunt casting, driving more older teens away than attracting the younger ones.

Though it does seem that Disney marketing got smacked with the stupid stick of late. Selling Prince Caspian to only tween girls, the early, virtually indecipherable posters for Bedtime Stories... The new posters for Escape to Witch Mountain are equally busy and hard to interpret. They've always been arrogant in marketing there, but at least previously it was for good reason.

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