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The BLOGFlume--Movies, Roads, and Automobiles

Disney announces a delay and a commitment, Busch gets help from Tampa, and Universal gets help from the Fockers.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: December 8, 2004 at 8:43 PM

Cars Will Have to Wait
LA Times 12/8/04

Disney and Pixar announced today that they have decided to delay the release of their final joint effort, Cars, from November 2005 until June 2006. Steve Jobs says that Pixar is looking to maximize box office profits with a summer release, making the DVD available for release during the lucrative holiday season 5 months later. Disney says the movie is more suited to a summer release because of its theme. While both sides’ reasons for wanting to push the release date back are very valid, one may think that these “reasons” are actually excuses. After watching the preview trailer for Cars, the concept looks kinda cute, but not the type of movie that’s going to blow out the box office, not to mention there wasn’t a single memorable moment presented in the trailer. No one from Disney or Pixar is going to come out right now and say it, but I have a sneaky suspicion that the movie may need those extra 6 months to be polished into a finished product. However, it is possible that it is all about the money, and after Shrek 2’s box office totals have crushed everything Disney or Pixar has produced so far, they want to try to steal some sparkle for themselves with a summer release.

Disney Backs Sony Technology
CNET 12/8/04

Disney and its home entertainment division Buena Vista Entertainment have chosen sides in the next generation of home entertainment technology. Sony’s Blu-ray discs hold up to 50GB of information compared to 4.7GB of a standard DVD of today. The discs and players- that’s right, your current DVD player or players (I have 7 in my home right now, including those in PCs) are about to go the way of VHS and BETA; will be available for U.S. consumption in late 2005 to early 2006. Assuming a standard tech lag of 1-2 years, we will need to replace our outdated technology by 2008. So take Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Extended Edition and Mary Poppins off your pre-order list, because you’ll just have to buy a new copy in 4 years.

But wait, Paramount, Universal, Warner Brothers, and New Line announced last week that they are going to support HD DVD, another format that reportedly may allow current DVD discs to be played on the upcoming HD DVD players. Hmmm, hasn’t Sony tried this before? Does anyone remember MiniDisc? That technology sounded so great in the mid-90’s with recordable music discs that produced CD quality music. CD-RW put MiniDisc out of business before it could even get its foot in the door, and a similar fate may befall Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick technology. Sony’s technology, which is typically very good and reliable, has one major downfall- it is proprietary. Sony and HP are the only 2 manufacturers on board to produce Blu-Ray players, and it looks like the home entertainment sector may be in for yet another battle.

Interesting Movie Tie-In
Universal Orlando

In what appears to be one of the strangest movie promotions, Universal Orlando Resort is inviting “Fockers” to the resort for a special weekend. Anyone with the legal name Focker who has registered with Universal Orlando will be participating in a Focker Family Reunion at the resort December 17-19, in advance of the December 22 release of the movie Meet the Fockers. The sequel to the popular comedy Meet the Parents stars Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, and Dustin Hoffman. Perhaps this promotion was inspired by complaints by people who actually have the last name Focker and were offended by the numerous jokes made about the name in Meet the Parents. Maybe someone looked through the phone book and actually realized that there are really people with the last name Focker. In any case, it sounds like a nice promotion, assuming you have the right last name.

A Nicer Drive to Busch Gardens
TBO.com 12/8/04

Busch Boulevard will be receiving a $2.4 million facelift to begin in 2007. The major road leading guests to Tampa’s most popular destination was never the prettiest, especially considering the more aesthetically pleasing roads surrounding competing parks in Orlando. The Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization has approved dramatic improvements to the 4-mile stretch of road that will include: brick pavers at crosswalks, landscaping at the I-275 interchange, and animal shaped topiaries along the side of the street. Busch Gardens Tampa has always seemed a bit out of place with its urban setting and walls around the park to keep the unattractive outside view out of guest’s minds. Now with a 200-foot tall roller coaster on the way, Busch Gardens will eventually have some visually attractive things to look at outside the park’s walls.

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on December 9, 2004 at 12:04 AM
*Seven* DVD players?

What the heck?!?

(Oh, wait a minute. I guess I've got four if you count the various computer DVD drives....)

But, still, *seven*?

From Jason Moore on December 9, 2004 at 8:21 AM
Hot on the heels of the Cars delay, Dreamworks has announced a similar strategy by moving Shrek 3 from November 2006 to May 2007. It actually makes a little more sense and seems less suspicious in Dreamworks' case as the previous two Shreks were released in may with fall DVD releases. Makes sense to stick with that winning strategy.

Also, you neglected to mention another possible reason that Pixar might be wanting to delay release. Delaying Cars also pushes back the next film after Cars (their first non Disney film) which buys Steve Jobs a bit more time to drag his feet and delay chosing/announcing a new distribution partner. But then again, there are probably dozens of behind closed doors reasons for this move that could be discussed. I'm not gonna get too wrapped up in all that speculation though.

From David Eggert on December 9, 2004 at 10:31 AM
Everything I have read about Blu-ray and HD-DVD players has said that both will definately be backwards compatible with current DVD's, meaning that your current DVD collection will still be payable on the new players.

I find it strange that Disney chose to go with Blu-ray, as it looks as though they, along with Sony (Columbia Tristar and MGM) will be the only studios using it. Buena Vista Home Entertainment President Bob Chapek has been a staunch supporter of Blu-ray and HD-DVD working together to create a single format, so why chose the under supported side when going with HD-DVD would likely mean the eventual death of Blu-ray?

I don't see any good coming from having two different DVD formats. Just look at what it's done for audio. Both SACD and DVD audio offer vastly superior sound quality compared to CDs, and both have been on the market for years. But how many of you have a player for either of these formats? Go to a music store and compare the product selection for these formats compared to CD. Having two formats only confuses the public and causes them to put off upgrading, as they wait for the eventual winner.

With all the major studios set to release their next gen DVD's by christmas 2005, I guess the best we can hope for now is a player that will support both Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

From Joe Lane on December 9, 2004 at 11:02 AM
This isn't the first name-related special event Universal has hosted this year: from October 31st to Election Day, people named Chad could stay at the Hard Rock Hotel for $50 plus tax--a 75% discount. They also got a copy of Jon Stewart's "America (The Book)" among other political-themed goodies. The first 13 Chads who booked rooms also got VIP tours of Universal Studios and IOA.

Why Chad? For those who don't remember the debacle of 2000, the whole 'hanging, dangled, dimpled and pregnant' chad thing for Florida ballots--the event was obviously geared to benefit folks who have had to deal with being associated with the worst recount in U.S. election history.

From Robert Niles on December 9, 2004 at 11:24 AM
...and anyone named Chad who was *actually* pregnant got a free lifetime pass to all Universal parks. (kidding)

Jason, I think you've nailed one of the reasons for the delay on Cars. From everything I hear, Pixar really wants to see who the next Disney CEO will be, and what kind of deal they might bring, before committing elsewhere.

From Jayson Myers on December 9, 2004 at 12:18 PM
Just to clear things up, from what I hear most of the new DVD players will play Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, so to consumers it won't be much of a stuggle.
From Justin Smith on December 9, 2004 at 3:06 PM
And to think I was obsessed to changing all my videos to DVDs just to find out they're making a newer version of something like DVD's. How pathetic. As for Cars it would be interesting if it got the same realese as Shrek 3 so then we would see who the people like better, Pixar or Dreamworks. I vote for Pixar. Anything Dreamworks dose Pixar can do better. Hell, anything Dreamworks can do Disney can do better.
From Justin Smith on December 9, 2004 at 3:06 PM
And to think I was obsessed to changing all my videos to DVDs just to find out they're making a newer version of something like DVD's. How pathetic. As for Cars it would be interesting if it got the same realese as Shrek 3 so then we would see who the people like better, Pixar or Dreamworks. I vote for Pixar. Anything Dreamworks dose Pixar can do better. Hell, anything Dreamworks can do Disney can do better.
From Russell Meyer on December 9, 2004 at 5:15 PM
As for 7 DVD players, we have 2 desktops, one laptop, and four televisions that all have DVD players hooked up. It seems really ridiculous, but that's what happens when you get married, and you merge two pretty well outfitted homes into one.

As for Blu-Ray, from what I have read, the Sony Blu-Ray technology uses a completely different type of laser to read the discs, a blue beam which is where the name comes from. Whether Sony units will come with a second laser built in to read older disc, or somehow this blue beam can read old DVDs, I am not sure, and I haven't read anything that suggests that these new Sony units would be backwards compatible. I have heard, however, that the HD DVD will be backwards compatible because the internal technology is very similar just a different compression.

From Chad Shelby on December 9, 2004 at 7:10 PM
my names chad and I never heard of that.

now im mad

From mark walker on December 10, 2004 at 7:50 AM
Round 1, (ding ding ding)
From Jason Moore on December 10, 2004 at 12:30 PM
Russell, i spent most of yesterday discussing this in a couple different places and trying to understand the compatability issues. Every time one person says they read one thing, another pops up and says they read something different. At this point I have no clue what is going to be compatable with what, but the article that was sent to me regarding the issue did say that both HD and Blu-ray would be backwards compatable. Frankly I'm not rushing to upgrade. I'll sit back and watch the two duke it out til one prevails and then I'll upgrade after it becomes more clear which one becomes the standard.
From Russell Meyer on December 10, 2004 at 4:08 PM
Me too, I have WAY too much money invested in DVD because it seemed like a great technology that was going to be around for a while. I have well over $3,000 invested in DVD's, and not looking to spend another $3,000 to upgrade. That money would be much better spent on an HDTV.
From Michael Patalano on December 10, 2004 at 5:43 PM
I'm in favor of Blu-Ray. The main difference is that Blu-Ray holds more and HD-DVD is cheaper to make. For me, I'd rather have more space to have better quality film and more bonus features, who cares if they are a little more expensive?

As for Cars and Shrek 3, they are being released 1 year apart (Shrek 3 will actually face Pixar's Rat project). If Cars were to face Shrek 3, Shrek would beat Car's butt. With a not-so-good responce to the Cars trailer and Shrek 3 already having a solid following from the 1st two films, Shrek would easily win.

-Michael

From Justin Smith on December 10, 2004 at 6:57 PM
" Shrek 3 would easily kick car's butt"

Don't be too sure Michael. Go to Amazon. com and you'ld see Plenty of people were disapointed with Shrek 2. There are plenty of people that hated the DVD so much they are going to boycott Dreamworks. Besides the only reason Shrek 2 made more money than The Incredibles is because of the realese date. If Incredibles got relased on May 2004 and Shrek 2 on November 2004 Incredibles would certaintly have won. I hope the Incredibles wins the Oscar fo best Animated picture.

From Justin Smith on December 10, 2004 at 6:59 PM
From Justin Smith on December 10, 2004 at 6:59 PM
From Justin Smith on December 10, 2004 at 7:00 PM
As for The replacing the DVD's I hop it won't happen because I think DVD's are good enough.
From Kenny Hitt on December 10, 2004 at 8:30 PM
OK, for the record, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD BOTH use the blue laser technology, the difference is in the compression technology and encoding.

Both players WILL be backward-compatible with your existing DVD collection.

Once both formats launch, there will be third-party players that will be able to play BOTH formats.

Also, Disney's support of Blu-Ray is NON-EXCLUSIVE, meaning they could at any point decide to throw their lot in with HD-DVD as well, just as back during the 80s many companies released films on both VHS and Betamax to guarantee they'd be on the victorious side of the format war.

From Michael Patalano on December 10, 2004 at 10:31 PM
Incredibles is barely up to Monster's Inc.'s levels (the last Pixar fall film). What about Nemo? The point is that Shrek 2 made over $400m and a sequal is bound to make just as much. With Cars, the trailer had such a "blah" response to it and people aren't as excided about it. IMO, they lost ground with Incredibles already.

-Michael

From Kenny Hitt on December 11, 2004 at 7:25 AM
Michael, I want you to think about what you're saying...you're deriding THE INCREDIBLES because it's only made as much money as MONSTERS INC.

That's like saying someone's a "little bit pregnant".

From Michael Patalano on December 11, 2004 at 9:03 PM
Well, just look at http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=vs-pixar.htm which compares all the Pixar films to date.
This past weekend, Incredibles grossed less than EVERY other Pixar film (even a Bugs life). Estimates for this Friday show the same results.

Is pixar on a downward trend? I don't know yet, but we'll know when CARS comes out.

-Michael

From Derek Potter on December 11, 2004 at 9:49 PM
Pixar isn't going anywhere. Even if the Incredibles grossed a little bit less that Monsters, it still is highly successful. Not every Pixar movie is going to be a giant blockbuster hit, but have any of their movies flopped? Not yet anyway. Now that the novelty of the computer animation has worn off, what will determine Pixars viability will be their ability to write a good story. Disney was able to keep traditional animation alive in their company by making good movies with it...at least until the late 90's when they started teaming with Pixar.

As for the new DVD format, I doubt that this new technology will be ousting the current DVD anytime soon. I realize that the new discs have more storage, but are there really that many single movies out there that require more than one disc? The only way that the new format will take over is if it offers more than the current format does. I doubt that the average consumer cares about more space, and I also doubt that film companies would spend a whole lot more money loading up a blu-ray disc with a bunch of extras...let alone extras that are worth watching. What will I do? To be honest, if the blu-rays cost more, than I'll stick with the old DVD stuff, because to me it's like comparing this weeks new computer to last weeks new computer. Not much of a difference. Digital technology does wonders, but you can only make a picture so clear, and with a good HD or plasma screen and a bumpin audio system, you can't get much better than the current DVD.

From Justin Smith on December 12, 2004 at 9:13 AM
Michaeal Incredibles grossed over 200 million dollars. It grossed more than both Toy Story(original) and a bugs life. And like Derek said Pixar has yet to make a film that floped. While Dreamworks films have all floped( with an acception of Shrek and Sharktale) That really tells you something dosn't it?
From Chuck Campbell on December 12, 2004 at 1:08 PM
What I find interesting about Dreamworks' animated division is that it seems unable to produce a big hit that isn't a parody of Disney (the two Shrek flicks). It's "traditional" productions have mostly flopped (although I think Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron opened well). The problem? Weak stories (just like Disney's last few "trad" features).
From John Franklin on December 12, 2004 at 6:34 PM
Chuck, et. al.,
Time for grammer 101.
It's means IT IS.
Its is the possive form of it.
Chuck wrote It's (it is ) "traditional" ....
From J. Dana on December 13, 2004 at 7:22 PM
John Franklin, of all the "Grammar 101" pitfalls, the "it's vs. its" is the least of our worries...for instance, in the long string of responses here, you should have been more offended by the following:
1) Jason Moore mentioned "the first non Disney film." As we all know, "non Disney" should either be hyphenated or conjoined, depending on the particular style guide in use.
2) David Eggert mentioned "next gen DVD's"--why would he add the apostrophe here? It isn't possessive either.
3) Joe Lane used the hyphenated "political-themed goodies," when the correct use is "politically themed," without a hyphen because of the use of the descriptive "y".
4) Robert Niles used the ambiguously incorrect phrase "Pixar wants to see who the next" instead of the arguably better constructed "Pixar wants to see WHOM the next" (emphasis added) because of its objective case use.
5) Russell Meyer should have hyphenated "well outfitted" since the two words are used together to modify "homes."
6) Chad Shelby did nothing correctly.
7) Michael Patalano is a major offender with his mispelled "responce" and his awkward practice of using the numeral 1 when he should spell out all numbers under 10, except for titles (such as Shrek 3). And how he got away with writing "1st two" is beyond me.
8) Justin Smith informed us that there were "plenty of people that hated", when he should have said "plenty of people WHO hated." What a bother.
9) J. Dana incorrectly mixed tenses when referring to bloggers here, sometimes saying "was" and other times saying "is." This inconsistency is not acceptable.

10) [notice the space for emphasis here]....And most striking of all, John Franklin incorrectly used a period after the "et" in the Latin phrase "et al." Since "et al." is an abbreviation of "et allii" (masculine) and "et aliae" (feminine), placing a period after the "et" is wildly incorrect. Please see the Greg's Reference Manual (an editor's bible) for further clarification. (Notice I used the abstract "further" instead of the more concrete and distance-related "farther.")

In summary: Jeesh, get a life! We're blogging...which, bbecause of what it is, NATURALLY offends the English language. So tipe it lyke you want, cuz it aint shakespeer.

From Robert Niles on December 13, 2004 at 10:02 PM
Would you believe my "m" key stuck, J.?
From J. Dana on December 14, 2004 at 1:00 AM
Sure, likely story, Robert...in the corner with you. And write 100 times "I will use the objective whom from now on." That'll learn ya.
From Tim Hillman on December 14, 2004 at 8:48 AM
What a great site! Theme park discussions and grammar lessons. I love this place!

Since we have totally strayed from any coherent discussion of the original set of topics, I have a totally unrelated observation. Has anybody noticed that since THC quit the site, Kevin has almost totally stopped posting? Is there a link here? I have a few theories:

1. Kevin and THC are alternate personalities hosted in the same body and are struggling for control of the keyboard.

2. After disgusting THC, Kevin has had an attack of remorse, and has made a vow never to offend anybody else on this site. Thus the silence.

3. Kevin has joined a monastery and spends all of his time praying and working on Gregorian chants.

4. Kevin got married to a B&D mistress and is on a yearlong honeymoon.

5. Kevin is recovering from severe injuries incurred when he got trampled by a horde of children and parents pushing strollers at Disneyland when some irresponsible person shouted, "Hey! There's Mickey!" at the exit of IASM.

6. Robert has Kevin working on some secret project that will make both of them millions of dollars and evenually give them control of the Disney Board of Directors.

7. Michael Eisner has hired Kevin as a secret consultant to help him return the magic to Disney.

Anybody else with too much time on their hands care to speculate?

From Robert Niles on December 14, 2004 at 11:57 AM
Six is kinda close, though I doubt the money part will ever happen. (Kevin's creating reviews for a Vegas site that I'm slowly designing.)

Four would yield one heee-larious trip report. I'm rooting for it, actually.

From Tim Hillman on December 14, 2004 at 2:18 PM
Lemme guess. Kevin's having trouble with the reviews of the Vegas shows and keeps going back to Skintight, Crazy Girls, and Splash just to make sure he's got his facts right.

All-you-can-eat buffets and Vegas showgirls.... Uh, Robert, is Kevin getting paid to do this?

From Robert Niles on December 14, 2004 at 3:46 PM
Not much.

He'd last about 10 minutes at the OG on what he's getting from me per week.

From Kevin Baxter on December 30, 2004 at 9:58 PM
He'd have to pay me a lot more to ever see Skintight or Splash ever again! Arggghhhh! And I ain't a huge fan of the buffets either, and I don't have many left to go!

But yes, I have been working on the site. Moreso than Robert, apparently. ;-) Hopefully it will be a great resource with a lot less of the stoopidity I have been finding on THIS site lately...

Like this topic. Can we all get our facts straight before we start making lameass pronouncements??? DreamWorks' animated hits go beyond just the Shreks and Shark Tale. Antz made over $90M, which would be over $100M today. Chicken Run made $106M. At this point, they have only released 9 animated films, and four have been 2-D, which hasn't exactly been doing gangbusters for Disney either. So of the FOUR CGI films DreamWorks has released, ALL have been hits.

If you want to bother with actual facts, add up the box office totals of all four DW CGI films and Pixar's six films. Figure out the average box office per film. Guess what? One studio has made about $240M per film, while the other has made about... $240M per film! (Seriously, I did the math.) So how exactly is DW so inferior?

Then we have upcoming output. Madagascar looks vastly superior to Shark Tale and Cars now won't come out until 2006. Shrek 3 will be out that year, probably right on the opening date of Cars, forcing Disney to blink and move it. (And anyone that thinks switching Incredibles with Shrek 2 would result in the former movie making $200M MORE and the latter making $200M LESS has more than one screw loose.)

And, for the record, I ALWAYS use "whom" correctly. Even in casual conversation! And it used to drive me nuts on The X-Files when Mulder and Scully constantly (at least once per show) said, "Who" when whom was obviously the correct word. It happened so often I swore someone behind the scenes was trying his damnedest to force grammarians to give up on ever seeing "whom" used properly again. (This from the person who refuses to use periods at the end of abbreviations!)


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