Sunday, July 04, 2010

Nick Moves to the Multiplex

The New York Times details how a heavy-duty kids cable network is moving to your neighborhood AMC.

... The reboot of Nickelodeon Movies came over the weekend with “The Last Airbender,” about a boy who can control air, fire, earth and water and embarks on a quest to save the world. Johnny Depp — the biggest family star around — is the headline name for the animated “Rango,” set for release on March 4. After that is a splashy new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” produced by Michael Bay, the director of the “Transformers” movies. ...

For all the majors now, the movie and t.v. biz is about extending and maximizing "brands." Making a good movie is fine, but really beside the point:

The model is Walt Disney Studios, which has successfully moved Disney Channel programming like “Hannah Montana” to the big screen. Adam Goodman, president of the Paramount Film Group, said he wanted to stretch the Nickelodeon brand to include racier content — just as Disney did with PG-13-rated movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”

... (One example of what Paramount is trying to avoid: “The Princess and the Frog,” the Disney animated movie that fizzled at the box office in part because of cool interest from older children and adults.) ...

Once upon a time, what we would call "the major film studios" had specific house styles that reflected the tastes, points-of-few and creative chops of their founders. Disney product would never have been mistaken for Warner Bros. cartoons or -- for that matter -- the kinds of entertainment that the Fleischer brothers turned out.

But in the age of the conglomerate, all of those things have blown away like topsoil in a hurricane. Now it's about building franchises and cross-pollinating different corporate divisions. About maximizing profits.

The days of making a ninety- minute feature for the sake of that animated feature are ... long over. Please don't hold your breath waiting for them to come back.


Anonymous said...

(One example of what Paramount is trying to avoid: “The Princess and the Frog,” the Disney animated movie that fizzled at the box office in part because of cool interest from older children and adults.)

Well, Paramount remembered not to release their movie one week before Avatar, at least they learned that much...

But if we can believe the early reviews and audience reactions, I wouldn't start throwing stones at anybody's "fizzles" right now, PM.

Anonymous said...

^Have you seen the boxoffice for Airbender? Pretty damn good. And you know why? The movie isn't nearly the disaster the critics and some of the obsessed Airbender fans would have you believe.

I'm a huge admirer of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Seldom do you see such artistry, integrity and devotion - much less quality - in a TV toon product. But I enjoyed the movie version. M. Night isn't nearly as good at telling the Airbender story the show's creators are (and why weren't they given more control over the final product, hmmm?) but despite that, the film is intriguing, beautiful, well-acted for the most part, and furthermore, the "racist" controversy is pure bullshit. The casting was well-done and the actors put in good performances. And the film is beautifully crafted as well. Production values are top-notch and the effects are amazing.

Watch the thing and make your own judgment. Then you'll know why so-called "negative word-of-mouth" didn't kill this film. True, if there's a sequel, I'd prefer M.Night didn't direct and ESPECIALLY write it - there are other directors out there with the chops to do a better job - but I'm still looking forward to more of Airbender.

And BTW, I've heard that Nick is gearing up to make more TV Airbender. This film's success will help make that happen. More work for animators, and more goodies for fans like me. Win-win. WHOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Anonymous said...

They played the odds and won, but next week's numbers will dertermine what word of mouth did or didn't do. My guess is this fillm will drop like a stone - 60%+ and maybe 80%?. Though it will still be considered a hit do to the great planning of the release date, not letting reviews come out too early, a good trailer and interest in the film.

Don't count on another director getting the sequels either since Night's name appears above the title - he probably has all the sequels wrapped up

Anonymous said...

It never fails to amaze (but not surprise) me that an animation studio, one that has worked with some super-talented animators, goes for the theatrical gold by hiring live-action hacks to translate their properties for the big screen. M. Night has gotten progressively worse with every film he's done, Gore Verbinski knows less about animation than I do about brain surgery, and Michael Bay doing TMNT is like a punchline from a weak Saturday Night Live skit. Somebody somewhere is making millions of dollars for making these horrible decisions. We're in the wrong business.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the boxoffice for Airbender? Pretty damn good.

I fail to see how "pretty damn good" translates to a film that has made $70m in worldwide BO grosses so far, while costing $150m + some have speculated as much as an extra $80m in marketing. Especially when it will likely experience a 60% - 80% drop as many are speculating. It's going to be a while after this gets released on DVD before this thing has any hopes of breaking even.

The numbers have spoken, this film is not a financial or critical success in any way.

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