Monday, September 26, 2011

Lion King rules the box office

Audiences continue to feel the love for the 3D re-release of The Lion King, now the #1 movie in America for the second week in a row! This weekend it held off star-driven competition from Brad Pitt in Moneyball and new family via Dolphen Tale and has taken in 61.6 million so far. That's an awfully good showing for a movie that's 17 years old, has been previously available on DVD, and will be coming out on DVD and Blu Ray in a couple of weeks.

It's also another reason not to believe anyone who thinks audiences don't want to see hand-drawn animation anymore. They do, it just has to be good and attached to a compelling story.

Meanwhile, Disney's newest animated feature, Winnie the Pooh, has made 26.6 million in its domestic release. Take the right message from this Disney: We still want hand-drawn animated features, but they need to be good, from the heart, and not cynical cash-grabbing sequels (to be clear, I have not yet seen Winnie the Pooh. I'm not judging its quality, just the intent behind making it in the first place).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Avatar Kingdom

Disney made a very surprising announcement today, one that I never heard a peep about in any of the usual rumor mills. Walt Disney World will be adding a new area of the park, but it's not a land of mythical beasts like the park was originally intended to one-day add. Instead, they'll be turning to outer space, and an outside-of-the-company property...

No, your calendar isn't broken. It's not April 1st, and this isn't a joke. Don't take my word for it, you can read the official announcement on the Disney Parks Blog.

Questions and Talking Points:

1) This is Disney's answer to Universal's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, right?

2) An alien-world themed land sounds great, and the world of Avatar is certainly visually resplendent, but... I don't know if this is the greatest fit. I guess they don't want to wait to see if their own John Carter series hits it big or maybe they're pretty sure it won't.

3) Are they this sure Avatar has long-term fan appeal? I know there are sequels in the works, but will they have the same success as the first? People (I'm not one of them) already wonder if the Harry Potter franchise has enough long-term appeal to sustain a land. There's a lot less surety about the future of Cameron's series.

4) If Disney wanted a large area based on a long-term successful sci-fi franchise, why not expand on the one they're already in bed with? Star Wars has proven to be evergreen, and there's plenty more Disney could do with it.

Viable questions, but I bet I'll forget all of them if Disney can really deliver an impressive and immersive visit to Pandora. We'll find out in the future.