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The power of Disney

  • 10-05-2019 10:18am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 5,710 ✭✭✭ speedboatchase


    I'm currently reading The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies, a book from a Wall Street Journal writer that outlines how Hollywood has moved from star-driven to franchise-driven movies in the past 15 years. It's fascinating, and details the rise of Marvel Studios, Netflix, etc.

    In light of this week's release of Disney's provisional slate of movies until 2027 (!), I wanted to get everyone's thoughts on Disney's approach to movies and whether they approve or not. Below is an excerpt from the Disney chapter in the book:


    Sony and its competitors have for years been jealous of and frustrated by Disney. Hollywood is a herd industry. Its executives are constantly looking out the side window or the rearview mirror and asking, "Why aren't we doing that?"

    For those peering at Disney, that means slashing the number of movies made per year by two-thirds. It also means largely abandoning any type of film that costs less than $100 million, is based on an original idea, or appeals to any group smaller than all the moviegoers around the globe.

    Disney doesn't make dramas for adults. It doesn't make thrillers. It doesn't make romantic comedies. It doesn't make bawdy comedies. It doesn't make horror movies. It doesn't make star vehicles. It doesn't adapt novels. It doesn't buy original scripts. It doesn't buy anything at film festivals. It doesn't make anything political or controversial. It doesn't make anything with an R-rating. It doesn't give award-winning directors like Alfonso Cuaron or Christopher Nolan wide latitude to pursue their visions.

    Though Disney still has flops, it has fewer than any other studio - fewer than anyone ever dreamed was possible in a business that has for decades seen more failures than successes and has been compared to riding a rollercoaster. Disney has, in short, taken a huge chunk of the risk out of a risky business.



    The author goes on to compare Bob Iger's approach to Disney with Steve Jobs approach to Apple: very few products but products that when they become loved, can be milked endlessly.

    So what do people think? Looking at the box office, I seem to be in the minority but I'm largely checked out of Avengers (though I enjoyed standalones such as Black Panther) and Star Wars (which I was obsessed with in the past). I'm not a fan of Disney's approach but they're about to have at least five billion dollar-plus movies this year (Endgame, Star Wars, The Lion King, Toy Story 4, Frozen 2), so it isn't going to change for at least a decade. I'm not immune to its powers of nostalgia either - of that list, I'll definitely go see The Lion King.

    Are you happy with and trust Disney's focus on Star Wars, Avengers, Avatar (soon), Disney/Pixar animations and live-action remakes? Would you like to see more risk, or would you rather they stick with franchises of which you're already a fan?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 27,467 ✭✭✭✭ drunkmonkey


    As long as my Disney shares keep going up and up I don't mind what they do.

    I'd like to see more mix though, lost track of star wars and avengers, confusing at this stage. They make so much from merchandising Mickey mouse and Spiderman are going nowhere for the next 100 years.


  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    So what do people think? Looking at the box office, I seem to be in the minority but I'm checked out of Avengers (though I enjoyed standalones such as Black Panther) and Star Wars (which I was obsessed with in the past). I'm not a fan of Disney's approach but they're about to have at least five billion dollar-plus movies this year (Endgame, Star Wars, The Lion King, Toy Story 4, Frozen 2), so it isn't going to change for at least a decade. I'm not immune to its powers of nostalgia either - of that list, I'll definitely go see The Lion King.

    Echoes my feelings pretty closely...

    Love films
    Haven't been to the cinema in nearly 2 years...take from that what you will


  • Registered Users Posts: 826 ✭✭✭ El Duda


    giphy.gif


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 27,400 CMod ✭✭✭✭ johnny_ultimate


    The ever increasing dominance of Disney in the field has unquestionably had a massively negative impact on the quality and variety of studio fare being released. Disney's cutthroat approach post-Fox acquisition is testament to that, and no ****ty X-Men/MCU crossover is worth it. The increasing reliance of independent cinemas like the Lighthouse on Disney fare is also an ominous omen, even if they do their best to still ensure a varied programme (although think it's fairly tragic there's no room in Irish cinemas for something like Madeline's Madeline this weekend).

    I don't entirely share a total doom and gloom approach here, even if I can count on a couple of fingers the amount of recent Disney-produced films I'd go to bat for (<3 TLJ). Looking at the recent / upcoming releases and there's a pretty great selection of films out at the moment beyond Avengers - High Life, Ash is the Purest White, Vox Lux, Float Like a Butterfly, Booksmart, Eighth Grade etc... 'The artform' is alive and well, and it's important to keep advocating and supporting for films we love to try to avoid corporate hegemony completely seeping in (even if there's the occasional overlap between films we love and corporate hegemony :p)


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,710 ✭✭✭ speedboatchase


    The ever increasing dominance of Disney in the field has unquestionably had a massively negative impact on the quality and variety of studio fare being released. Disney's cutthroat approach post-Fox acquisition is testament to that, and no ****ty X-Men/MCU crossover is worth it. The increasing reliance of independent cinemas like the Lighthouse on Disney fare is also an ominous omen, even if they do their best to still ensure a varied programme (although think it's fairly tragic there's no room in Irish cinemas for something like Madeline's Madeline this weekend).

    I don't entirely share a total doom and gloom approach here, even if I can count on a couple of fingers the amount of recent Disney-produced films I'd go to bat for (<3 TLJ). Looking at the recent / upcoming releases and there's a pretty great selection of films out at the moment beyond Avengers - High Life, Ash is the Purest White, Vox Lux, Float Like a Butterfly, Booksmart, Eighth Grade etc... 'The artform' is alive and well, and it's important to keep advocating and supporting for films we love to try to avoid corporate hegemony completely seeping in (even if there's the occasional overlap between films we love and corporate hegemony :p)

    I agree with you to an extent, but I think that in time studios won't see any point in releasing low-budget indies in cinemas. Better to just have Netflix or Amazon buy them. I think genres are dying - rom coms are largely dead and comedies on life support (The Hustle and Long Shot will both flop).

    Red Letter Media (as quoted above) had an interesting comparison recently. They said that two of the most reliable genres - action blockbusters and low-budget horror - are analogous to fun rides and ghost trains at a fairground. In other words, soon the cinema will only exist to scare or excite you. Any thing else - drama, comedy, romantic movies - won't be seen as worthy of a cinema trip. I think we're pretty close to that eventuality already.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭ RayCun


    I agree with you to an extent, but I think that in time studios won't see any point in releasing low-budget indies in cinemas.

    The potential profit margin on a low-budget indie is massive.
    How much did Bridesmaids, The Hangover, American Pie cost to make? Or Lost in Translation, Up in the Air, No Country for Old Men, Fantastic Mr Fox?
    They made many multiples of their production costs.

    The big budget blockbusters will usually make money, and lots of it, but off a massive investment.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,710 ✭✭✭ speedboatchase


    RayCun wrote: »
    The potential profit margin on a low-budget indie is massive.
    How much did Bridesmaids, The Hangover, American Pie cost to make? Or Lost in Translation, Up in the Air, No Country for Old Men, Fantastic Mr Fox?
    They made many multiples of their production costs.

    The big budget blockbusters will usually make money, and lots of it, but off a massive investment.

    To quote the book I mentioned in the OP - same chapter on Disney and it's CEO Bob Iger:


    'Iger surmised that major studio movies would have to become "must-see" offerings, and Disney's job was to make them so, even if it was difficult and even if some of those big swings lost a lot of money along the way. This conclusion matched the results of research that [Tim] Cook and his team of executives were doing at about the same time. They found that movies costing more than $100 million to make were less risky than those with smaller budgets - a counterintuitive conclusion indeed'


    Disney - and where they lead, the rest follow - used to make 30 movies per year, in different genres and budgets. Now it makes 10 - all over $100m, and all with some level of pre-built intellectual property awareness (with the exception of Disney Animation Studios, but they are now making more sequels: Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, live-action remakes. It's about safe, PG-13 or under, bets with established audiences.

    The examples you gave are generally within the past 10-15 years. Most would not be made anymore for a theatrical release - certainly not by Disney, or would be bought by Netflix (as they're deliberately investing in ignored genres like rom-coms and comedies). Two of the films that you mentioned were made by Miramax and Fox Searchlight. Disney sold Miramax and as it's just acquired Searchlight, we'll have to wait and see on that.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,704 ✭✭✭✭ RayCun


    It's clearly the Disney plan to make only blockbusters.

    But that doesn't mean everyone else is going to follow suit and the only path for indies is Netflix.

    Bohemian Rhapsody - budget 50, box office 900
    A Star is Born - 36, 436
    Green Book - 23, 320
    Moonlight - 4, 65
    Sorry to Bother You - 3, 18

    and while a big budget movie usually makes money, it doesn't always have a good ROI
    Solo cost about 300 million, box office under 400


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,710 ✭✭✭ speedboatchase


    RayCun wrote: »
    It's clearly the Disney plan to make only blockbusters.

    But that doesn't mean everyone else is going to follow suit and the only path for indies is Netflix.

    Bohemian Rhapsody - budget 50, box office 900
    A Star is Born - 36, 436
    Green Book - 23, 320
    Moonlight - 4, 65
    Sorry to Bother You - 3, 18

    and while a big budget movie usually makes money, it doesn't always have a good ROI
    Solo cost about 300 million, box office under 400

    Very true. I really hope that not everyone follows the Disney model.

    Two of the examples you gave there (Sorry to Bother You, Moonlight) are under Annapurna Pictures (they own Plan B, who made Moonlight) - a unique studio with an incredible track record for Oscar winners and generally great, adult-aimed films. They can make riskier bets because the studio is a passion project for its founder, Megan Ellison, who happens to be the daughter of the world's fifth-richest man. We need more Megan Ellisons and less Bob Igers, imo.

    I think A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody (from Fox, now owned by Disney, so never happening again from them) have clued studios into a new formula for making smash hits in a previously-ignored genre - music-based dramas. I think Rocketman will do very well but will be harmed by its R-rating in the US. But I would expect we'll see lots of 80s and 90s band biopics on the way now. Nirvana movie in the next five years?


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 22,525 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Sad Professor


    Yeah, I wouldn't be that much worried about the smaller films. They don't pose a threat to Disney and will find a home elsewhere. It's the original, R-rated or auteur-driven blockbusters that I'd be more worried about. Which is why I really hope Dune is a success.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 16,960 ✭✭✭✭ Tony EH


    The author goes on to compare Bob Iger's approach to Disney with Steve Jobs approach to Apple: very few products but products that when they become loved, can be milked endlessly...

    ...and usually bought by ****.

    :pac:


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,086 ✭✭✭✭ Harry Palmr


    TV is the new everything else bar Disney. Obviously you can still succeed by counter programming their MOR sh!te - Get Out and IT being two hugely successful examples in the last few years but it does feel as if the mainstream is being narrowed to a ridiculous degree.


  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 28,632 Mod ✭✭✭✭ pixelburp


    I had to laugh at the "[Disney] doesn't make anything political or controversial." comment because depending on who you read or listen to, their mainstream output is apparently ruined & infested with all sorts of 'liberal' agendas. Their movies are certainly apolitical, while lately lean towards inclusivity in its casting, but the screaming from some quarters has been tough to stomach in response to (say) black stormtroopers or whatnot.

    The acquisition of Fox Entertainment and all its IPs is a genuinely worrying prospect: I blame the media for its gleeful reporting & focus on the return of the X-Men license, rather than the obvious creative & artistic suffocation this is going to result in. That Disney now own the Alien and Predator franchise is almost perverse, though thankfully we needn't worry about chestburster toys in Disneyland...

    Yet, franchises eventually fail. The MCU will eventually bottom out, or Disney's cynical live action remakes will eventually bomb, & while Disney are probably better positioned to absorb another Black Cauldron, it's not insane to imagine a scenario where a firesale occurs and they sell on a raft of licenses.


  • Registered Users Posts: 979 ✭✭✭ Lionbacker


    (although think it's fairly tragic there's no room in Irish cinemas for something like Madeline's Madeline this weekend).

    Just to veer slightly off-topic, but Madeline's Madeline has found its way to a least 1 Irish theatre, in the Triskel in Cork.
    Looking forward to seeing it tomorrow night:)


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,535 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Dades


    Tony EH wrote: »
    ...and usually bought by ****.

    :pac:
    I see we're back in 2010.


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,960 ✭✭✭✭ Tony EH


    It wouldn't matter what year it was. ;)


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 27,400 CMod ✭✭✭✭ johnny_ultimate


    Lionbacker wrote: »
    Just to veer slightly off-topic, but Madeline's Madeline has found its way to a least 1 Irish theatre, in the Triskel in Cork.
    Looking forward to seeing it tomorrow night:)

    Fair play to Triskel! Given IFI and Lighthouse / Palas are often the only cinemas screening particular films, great to see another venue showing a film that's been neglected by others.

    Enjoy it, though it was great myself. For anyone outside Cork who is interested, it's on Mubi for the next month.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 456 ✭✭ Tired Gardener


    As much as I loathe the Hollywood blockbusters, and struggle to find decent films to watch at the pictures, that isn't to say that they aren't there... just usually hard to come by at the picture houses in rural Ireland.

    Those that come out and I get to see I do enjoy. Indie films or films that are aimed at adults (drama, thriller) have been of a good calibre... this could be as they aren't in the limelight, so those they are offered more flexibility. Less pressure from studios allows people to do what they envisioned.

    There has always been trends that Hollywood chases, good films do slip through. It just feels now that the gap is getting wider. I do wonder if it had some thing to do with how far CGI has come, the big offenders tend to rely heavily on CGI and less on plot/narrative.


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