Thursday, July 09, 2009


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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"Up," up and away

"Pixar's Up increased its tally to $264.8 million in 38 days. It flew past The Incredibles to become the second highest-grossing Pixar movie." -- Brandon Gray, Box Office Mojo, July 6, 2009

A few weeks before Up opened in theaters on May 29, the Times’ ran a story in its Business pages about how shareholders were irked at Disney – and Pixar – because there was no way a movie with a septuagenarian hero, a grumpy widower voiced by Ed Asner, was going to do the kind of box office that previous Pixar titles like Cars and The Incredibles did.
The demographics were all wrong. Kids won’t want to see it. Twentysomethings? They’ll stay away in droves. Toys? What toys?
If Up was even a modest success, it wasn’t going to do the shareholders any good.
So there's the Box Office Mojo report, and the Variety headline from last week: “Up Figures to See Incredible Sights,” with a forecast that not only will Pixar’s Up pass The Incredibles in business, it might even get to Finding Nemo numbers -- the CG animation studio’s top money maker at $340 million. Like its protagonist and his balloon-buoyed domicile, Up continues to ascend.
“I wasn’t sure whether I should be offended or gratified by that article,” Pete Docter, Up’s director and co-writer, said, referring to the Times piece, in an interview a few days before the (yes) mega-hit’s release. “Because they sort of went out of they way to say, well, all signs point to this being a really great film, but we have this issue with the marketability. And I guess I can understand that if you’ve not seen the film.
“When you just pitch it — you know, it’s a 78-year-old man who floats his house — you’d say, `What!?’ But our job has always been the same, and it’s very clear: Don’t worry about marketing. We never approach the films from, `What’s going to appeal to the 8-to-12 year-old-set, blah blah blah.’ We just make movies that speak to us as an audience, knowing that we want to reach everybody else. And (Disney chairman) Bob Iger and (Disney-Pixar animation chief John Lassiter have both said, `Just make great films, that’s your job. And if it happens to work out well with marketing and toys and whatever else, then, great.’ But you know if you put the cart before the horse that way, if you try to just sell toys, I think you know where that goes.
“Our job is just to make sure that the audience feels the movie and is entertained by it, and everything else will fall into place.
“You know, even Toy Story, I remember getting a memo from some marketing folks saying we don’t see the marketing potential in this film!.. I think I still have that somewhere.”