Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Winnie the Pooh: Harikiri or Avada Kedavra?

Did you know a Disney animated feature debuted at the theaters last weekend? It's true. Winnie the Pooh, Disney's 51st official animated feature film opened on Friday, July 15, the same day as the final installment of the mega-successful Harry Potter franchise.

Seemed like the movie was committing suicide to me, but I heard some people calling it savvy counter-programming, thinking the Harry Potter franchise had grown too dark for little viewers and that families with small children would be looking for something more family friendly to see.

What a load of malarkey.

Even though the Potter movies certainly matured over time, they were still appealing to a lot of people Disney should've been trying to appeal to with Winnie the Pooh. Even if families felt the Potter movies had become too intense for their kids, any buzz Pooh might've hoped to have was drowned out by the roar of Pottermania.

I don't know how well Winnie the Pooh might've done if it hadn't opened against the monster movie of the summer, but as it is it opened in 6th place, earning $7.8 million. That's a pretty sorry turnout for the kind of movies Disney built their empire on.

Tellingly, Pooh also finished behind two other family movies - the latest "hilarious" Kevin James fatty-fall-down fest "Zookeeper" and Disney/Pixar's Cars 2 (in its fourth week of release!).

Maybe Potter wasn't the only problem.

Whatever the cause, let's hope Pooh's failure isn't blamed on the fact that it was traditional animation. The medium is not the problem. If I was the conspiracy theorist type, I might think Pooh was placed against Potter by someone who hates traditional animation and wants it to die for good.

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