Saturday, April 18, 2009


London's Daily Telegraph catalogues some marketers' reactions to the oncoming Pixar feature Up:

"We doubt younger boys will be that excited by the main character," said Richard Greenfield of Pali Research ...

"The film doesn't sound like much of a goer," said one buyer for a leading British toy retailer, who asked not to be named ...

Alan Dadswell, managing director of Toys N Tuck, an independent chain of shops in Essex, said: "We usually get people asking things weeks in advance but I'm not aware of anyone wanting anything to do with Up" ...

You get the idea. An old guy (voiced by old union Lefty Ed Asner) is the leading man of a big budget Pixar cartoon, and the marketplace yawns.

... The reaction has prompted accusations of ageism at the heart of the multi-billion-pound promotions industry that surrounds films aimed at children ...

Ageism is hardly a new phenomenon in Movieland. Every third week there's a media piece about "the youth market" and how every Hollywood exec worth his pinstripes caters to it. So it's no huge surprise that Brit marketers are reported as saying: "Heey. There's an old guy in this movie! How the hell we gonna sell that?!"

The reaction isn't a lot different than on this side of the Atlantic, if Wall Street's sniping is any indicator (and it is.)

What's laughably ironic is, if Hollywood gets bit in the wallet by the tyranny of youth, it will give the industry a taste of what it's been dishing out to entertainment workers for years.

I've watched older artists get shouldered out of studios ... and the animation business is a bright beacon of enlightened employment practices compared to the live-action side of the business. Show me an embittered animation writer and I'll show you a middle-aged live-action writer who's had the door slammed in his face by a snotty, thirty-something sitcom exec. And as an old live-action cameraman once told me:

"Everybody who's forty-five and up runs scared. Even cinematographers with a dozen big-budget features on their resumes dye their hair and get face lifts. They know there's thirty young guys after their job" ...

Time is a voracious, implacable monster who's appetite never diminishes. One day you are twenty-seven years old and the world is your oyster; three eye-blinks later and you're fifty-seven with thinning hair and a thickening waist-line, wondering where the hell all the jobs and opportunities went.

It will be interesting to see if the monster's hungry cousin ends up chewing one of Up's legs off.

Add On: Box Office Prophets prophesizes Up's ticket totals here.


Anonymous said...

A lot of advance screening reviews are calling this Pixar's most entertaining movie since Finding Nemo. Should be interesting to see if good word of mouth is enough to get the youth in the theaters to see this.

Unfortunately, it's just a marketing fact. I completely understand young tweens not wanting to see a movie whose main character is an old man. It's not right, but that's just the way it is.

It'll also be interesting to see how strong the Pixar brand name really is.

Anonymous said...

I saw UP at an advanced screening, and all I can say is WOW! It's quite simply one in a million--so emotional, so moving, and so exciting. Few live action films are so "human," or explore character relationships so throroughly and in such entertaining fashion. It's an incredibly beautiful film, as well, and the animation is the definition of "character animation."

If it's not the biggest hit of the year, it deserves to be. I cannot wait to see it again.

Anonymous said...

" young tweens not wanting to see a movie whose main character is an old man"

Young tweens don't want to WATCH an animated film at all of any kind. It's too "childish."

I don't think Pixar has anything to worry about. They should just keep making original films and Disney marketing should fall in line and do their jobs to supprt the film.

robiscus said...

Yeah, that Mr Magoo guy was a total dud.

Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless said...

"A lot of advance screening reviews are calling this Pixar's most entertaining movie since Finding Nemo."Yes, and does anyone else recall the sniping and doom-saying before "Finding Nemo" came out ?

A movie about ... FISH ? Who the hell can get emotionally wrapped up in a story about fish ? There are no cute furry animals or princesses in a fish movie. Just look at fish : they're not cute .

and blah, blah, blah, all the smart ones just knew that "Finding Nemo" was going to be box-office poison .

How old was E.T. ? Hundreds of years old ? He was sure ugly and wrinkled. Not some marketing dept.'s idea of a cute and cuddly toy. And all the young boys just hated (old) Yoda , right ? Or maybe not ?

Could Pixar miss with UP ? Yes . It might flop. Or it might be a big hit. Anything can happen. Know one really knows anything. If it was an exact science then every movie released by every studio would be a hit.
(oh, hey, but by the way EVERY PIXAR MOVIE SO FAR HAS BEEN A HIT ... maybe they have something figured out after all ?)

Floyd Norman said...

I've seen Pete's movie and I love it.

Of course, I probably don't count, because I'm an old man.

Anonymous said...

I think Up will do fine at the box office. Pixar's sold audiences on fish, aging superheroes, a rat chef and non-speaking robots. After all that, I don't think a guy who could pass for Stadler and Waldorf's cousin will scare folks away from theaters.

Young tweens don't want to WATCH an animated film at all of any kind. It's too "childish."I think tweens will make an exception for Up. Cartoons may be "childish," but Pixar and anime are "cool." :^)

Anonymous said...

...I think tweens will make an exception for Up. Cartoons may be "childish," but Pixar and anime are "cool." :^),,,

That's wishful thinking. If Up is a hit it won't be because of the tweens. Tweens think ALL animation is questionable and definitely Pixar's. Dreamworks gets a little more street cred because of the lack of sacchrin, but Pixar plays very young in ALL of their pics.

Anonymous said...

I agree that tweens don't want to see animated movies or anything else G-rated. They want to see an R-rated movie.

They go because their parents take them, and their parents take them because they don't want to take their kids to an R-rated movie.

It's a weird symbiosis that sustains the the strange paradox of g-rated animated features being big box office.

But that dynamic is also what excludes anything out of that niche from succeeding such as R-rated animation like "Waltz with Bashir."

Anonymous said...

I would like to add something.
I am a 16 year old honors student in high school. The majourity of the time, the G-rated movies are a whole hell of a lot better than the R-rated movies.

SO when people say that "tweens" and "teens" are not going to be into these movies, I can honestly say that myself and all of my friends love these movies MUCH more than the R-rated movies.

Take last weekend, we had the opportunity to see Crank: High Voltage or Monsters Vs. Aliens and all 10 of us said Monsters looked better than Crank.

So whoever says that Pixar and cartoon movies don't appeal to people over 8 years old. They are 100% completly wrong. Teens enjoy escaping into a world that could never be just as much as that 8 year old.

Bob and Rob Professional American Writers said...

Really looking forward to this film. It'll be interesting to see how the demographics play out.

I'm thinking if the buzz continues to be this spectacular, "Up" will be a runaway hit, even if they don't get the tweens/teens. Bob

Anonymous said...

Just by your own description and the fact that you read and post on this particular blog (not to mention use a 'u' when you spell majority)means that for good or bad you really can't speak for most of the tweens and teens and while it might not be "100% true" it's closer to the majority than the minority.

r said...

Well, I did go see Crank, and it's a piece of $@*&t!

Unfortunately....I actually enjoyed it. But it's most definetly inapropiate for the teens!!


Jeremy said...

Family is what carries Pixar films to big BO numbers. Up won't crash and burn, in fact, it will make more than MVA, and perhaps neck-to-neck with Ice Age 3, even it doesn't have smartass monsters or Scrat.

Anonymous said...

The "Monster 2" script you "wrote" at Disney was horrible, btw. Awful, and not terribly creative.

Red Tango said...

I'm sick of everything being judged on what a "tween" wants to see. What about the rest of us? We used to count for something.

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