Tag Archives: Pixar

Disney’s Distribution Dilemma: Coco Needs Some Frozen Fever

What happens when movie fans become upset with your upcoming release and you are worried about the potential loss in ticket sales? You slap some Frozen on it and call it good. This is, in my opinion, exactly what Disney has done with its upcoming release of Coco. They are able to use this technique to support Coco mainly because Frozen is such a coveted property.

FrozenWhile, as I will discuss later, using this method of premiering shorts in front of films is not something new for Pixar, it is becoming something new for other distribution and film companies particularly within the independent arena. Utilizing this method could lead to additional revenue sources for these companies.

Before we get into the thick of things with Frozen and the other companies, let’s discuss Coco and why fans are so upset with Disney. Some of you may remember a certain 20th Century Fox film titled The Book of Life.

According to reporting from Polygon, it’s a colorfully animated film that tells the story of “living characters venturing into the Land of the Dead” based around the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos. Music also plays a huge role in this film. What’s the issue with Coco? It’s basically the same.

  Frozen

Disney’s Pixar actually announced their concept for Coco slightly ahead of 20th Century Fox, they just beat Pixar to the box office. While this fact may help Pixar’s reputation slightly, it is hard to change audiences’ minds once a rumor takes hold.

Another reason fans are upset with Walt Disney and Pixar over Coco involves the composition of the production crew. The Book of Life had “several Mexican producers and animators onboard” while initially Coco had an all Caucasian team lined up. After some additional outrage by fans, Disney enlisted an all Latino cast for the film along with a “coalition of cultural consultants.”

Additionally, the Walt Disney Company did not do itself any favors in the publicity department when it attempted to “trademark ‘Dia de los Muertos’” as the original name for Coco. Not a smart move, but if Disney knows how to do one thing right it is to use magic. In this case, hopefully to save a movie from flopping at the box office.

This is where Frozen comes into the equation as a saving force for Coco. The third installment in the Frozen series, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, will premiere exclusively in front of Coco in theaters. This may seem normal for Pixar as it has been a tradition since A Bug’s Life was released to include an original short at the beginning and/or a feature short included in the credits as “outtakes”.

Some examples of these include: For the Birds released with Monsters, Inc.; Blue Umbrella released with Monsters University; Piper released with Finding Dory; and Jack-Jack Attack that was in The Incredibles credits.

For a full list of films and their accompanying shorts click here.

Frozen  Frozen

Normally these shorts are created by so called amateur animators and generally are not directly affiliated to any major property. Coco’s short, on the other hand, is a well-known Disney property that had a lot of effort put into it.

The point of contention occurs regarding the originally planned distribution method for Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. Early in its development it was said that ABC, which Disney owns, would premiere it as a television special. Eventually deemed “too cinematic” it was decided the short film would become a theatrical featurette instead. For more on this click here.

While this may seem a coincidence, I feel as though the Walt Disney Company realized they wouldn’t fully recover from the lingering “ghost of The Book of Life” and their “ill-fated ‘Dia de los Muertos’ trademark attempt” without taking additional measures. Can you say oops?

FrozenAll in all, the Walt Disney Company realized that Coco’s box office performance wouldn’t be at par with what they needed, so they altered the distribution pattern for Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. Now having it paired with Coco in theaters not only gives the feeling of exclusivity, but it will also draw all of the Frozen fans to the theaters to see the next installment in the very well established franchise.

Interestingly enough, the Walt Disney Company is not the only one putting exclusive content in the form of short films ahead of major releases. Within the independent film business, Neon is a company that is starting this trend up again.

Neon, the “distribution shingle launched by Tim League and Tom Quinn” (Winfrey) buys independent short films and places them with their other independent properties for distribution. The first installment for Neon was 5 Films About Technology which premiered alongside Colossal. As of now, Neon only places shorts in front of its own properties, but only time will tell if they decide to sell the rights to short films to other distributors.

Is placing short films with major releases an effective method of distribution for major film studios to use in the future to get a larger audience in attendance?

-Piper Davis

John Lasseter’s Everlasting Well of Sequels

I remember the good old days. Taking girls out on dates for walks, dinners, and movies. On one particular date, I brought a high school crush to Finding Nemo. I recall a beautiful story of a father desperately wanting to be with his son no matter what the cost. He faced a terrifying shark named Bruce, the deadly sting of jellyfish, and even the complications of human beings. John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar, has transformed the way animated films are created and presented. Movies such as Toy Story, Monster’s Inc., and Wall-E will stand the test of time.

John LasseterOne has to ask, however, at what point will Lasseter’s ideas run dry? We all recall the Toy Story series and how those wrapped up. The way Toy Story 3, ended left many people, including myself, in tears. Woody, Buzz, and the whole gang found a new home and it seemed that they were destined to be played with for a long time to come. But, when Lasseter recently decided to take on the reins to a third sequel (Toy Story 4) to our Space Commander/Cowboy duo, I found it hard to look past monetary reasoning. This has me questioning his and Pixar’s ability to maintain originality.

In a recent interview, Lasseter said, “A lot of people in the industry view us doing sequels as being for the business of it, but for us it’s pure passion.” That all sounds good and wholesome, but I am skeptical that there is more of the Toy Story to tell. It just seems forced to continue the beloved story of our Woody and Buzz.

Cars2When looking at Cars 2, it’s hard to believe that Lasseter approved the making of Cars 3 without the mindset of trying to make up for lost revenue. Lasseter is also credited in the writing of Planes, but that hardly seems like an original idea! Sometimes, you just have to know when to quit. Seven of the eleven Pixar films since 2010, and including the upcoming films, are sequels.

The Good Dinosaur seemed to be a promising step in the right direction. But, Lasseter fired Bob Peterson, the director, and 60 other employees after seeing the direction that The Good Dinosaur was heading. Due to this, they had to push the release date to 2015, leaving 2014 being the first year that Pixar hadn’t released a movie since its premiere of Toy Story.

Maybe the problem lies within the directors that Lasseter has raised up. He has played a large mentoring role into a majority of the director’s under Pixar. That could result in a like-mindedness of creativity. There needs to be someone thrown into Pixar’s mix to give a fresh new vision.

I suppose Lasseter’s well hasn’t run completely dry with the upcoming movie Inside Out. But I’m sure his ideas are beginning to be stretched thin. Others may disagree but, with the amount of hits that Pixar has made, they are coming close to hitting a dry spell. Maybe he could combine universes like Marvel and have a Cars/Incredibles movie. They both fall under Disney’s umbrella. Who knows? It could work!

Peter Seifert