Disney Headlines for September 5th, 2023
This week: we debate what belongs among the Disney 100 re-releases, Disney goes on offense against Charter, and we learn what The Last of Us has in common with Pirates of the Caribbean.
The latest batch of Disney Headlines reminds us why we love Disney storytelling.
Disney Learns a New Trick
As part of The Walt Disney Company’s 100th anniversary, the film studio will re-release eight of its beloved movies in theaters.
Disney’s plan has its roots in the pandemic, a time when movie theaters lacked new theatrical releases.
Desperate and with no other options, theater owners grudgingly turned to Disney, whom they didn’t even like much at the time, and asked for help.
Disney threw the local cineplexes a lifeline by re-releasing some of its most popular titles.
In the fall of 2020, Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. were exhibited in theaters.
As an odd historical footnote, both finished in the top ten during a box office weekend.
Yes, 20-year-old titles still held that much appeal in the face of a slow marketplace. And it’s not as if there were no releases at the time, either.
Toy Story finished in sixth place, only a few hundred thousand dollars behind Tenet at a time when the latter film was still new in theaters.
On a different weekend, Disney executives performed a wildly successful experiment with their Halloween fare.
Disney re-released Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas for Halloween, and both titles finished in the top seven for the weekend.
Disney’s forgotten pandemic releases like Ron’s Gone Wrong weren’t substantially more popular than the studio’s classic films.
Afterward, Disney prioritized re-releases to make a quick buck from time to time. It’s also a way to draw attention to an upcoming release.
As an example, we’ve since witnessed the return of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as a marketing ploy for the Disney+ debut of Andor.
Fans have proven they will rewatch any high-quality Disney film in theaters.
What Would You Pick?
Now, Disney is preparing for a new wave of theatrical releases, each of which celebrates the studio’s century of excellence.
However, programming that lineup has proven challenging and divisive.
I mean, think about the situation from this perspective. If you could choose ANY eight Disney titles for theatrical re-release, what would you pick?
I doubt that any two people reading this would agree on the complete list.
Sure, we’d have plenty of crossover with titles like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, but then a schism would occur.
Some lists would include historically significant titles like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella, while others would prioritize newer stuff.
Frozen and Moana embody the past decade of Disney’s success. Do you include them in a list of re-releases?
How about Lilo & Stitch? My wife will fight anyone who answers no to this one. And that’s an apt summary of the dilemma.
Fans treasure their favorite Disney films and believe they’re worthy of a theatrical viewing experience.
Then, we have a differing perspective, one that does make some sense.
Do you remember the heartbreak expressed by Pixar employees that some of their titles were skipping movie theaters altogether?
Specifically, three Pixar titles – Luca, Soul, and Turning Red – never gained a theatrical release.
Doesn’t this centennial celebration seem like the ideal time to give them that opportunity?
That’s the argument some are making, and I believe a few of these folks are current/former Pixar employees.
What Disney Picked
Will Disney do that? The answer appears to be no, at least not for this event.
All three titles could eventually gain later releases when they celebrate their fifth/tenth anniversaries and so forth.
For the time being, Disney has prioritized the classics. Here are the eight films that have gained or will receive theatrical re-release this year:
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
- Toy Story
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Incredibles (available now)
- The Lion King
What do you think of that list?
Speaking of Pirates of the Caribbean…
Since writers and actors don’t have anything going on now due to their Hollywood strikes, producers are performing lots of interviews.
Part of them stems from boredom since their daily job duties are dull. But it’s also a form of self-promotion for once the strike ends.
Someone who is rising in popularity recently spoke in the Los Angeles Times and provided exciting hope for Disney fans.
The individual in question is Craig Mazin, the showrunner for HBO’s The Last of Us.
Mazin is probably one of the hottest storytellers in the industry right now in the aftermath of that show’s wildly popular debut.
I can’t recall the last time a television episode from a new series caused such a wave of reverence as happened here.
Nick Offerman’s guest-starring role in a standalone episode became THE topic of note for a week or so.
I’d previously been a fan of Mazin for his work on Mythic Quest, which was one of my pandemic shows due to marvelous moments like this:
I apologize for the language at the end, but it’s…relatable, right?
Anyway, thanks to his Mythic Quest and HBO relationships, Mazin has friends in high places in Hollywood. People are noticing his skill as well.
Apparently, Mazin spoke with Disney about a potential project, and it’s an exciting one.
The actor/writer/director came up with an idea for a sixth Pirates of the Caribbean series…and Disney said yes!
This project had received a greenlight just before the strikes shut down Hollywood and could become a real thing.
I know we’re all burnt out on mediocre franchise sequels, but Craig Mazin creating a Pirates movie could be really, really good!
Disney Switches to Offense
I’ve written in detail about the current Charter Spectrum/Disney kerfuffle in a different article this week.
The gist is that this conflict has been a long time coming. While Disney gets in these tiffs regularly, this particular battle is more serious.
I say that because Charter went after Disney in a way that’s rare and undeniably aggressive.
Now, Disney has taken the unusual step of posting this argument on its official website.
That’s Disney defending itself against Charter’s allegations. More importantly, Disney is telling customers THEY DON’T HAVE TO USE CHARTER!
Disney’s apparently following the business philosophy that if they send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue.
The entire negotiation is weird in that Charter earns its money from broadband internet more than cable these days.
Now, Charter just forced Disney to remind cable customers that they can just stream stuff over the internet instead.
Here’s the applicable quote, which is downright hostile from a business perspective:
“Consumers should also know that they have many options today and can choose from competing pay TV providers that offer Disney’s entire portfolio of networks and programming, as well as TV streaming services that can be accessed by downloading an app or over a broadband connection.”
You don’t watch ostensible business partners slug each other like this very often. Stay tuned!
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Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios