The BLOGFlume—All Aboard!
Lots of Disney news, and an interesting development in Ohio.
Written by Russell Meyer
Disney Under FireTweet
Boston Herald 2/15/05
Two big allegations are being fired at Disney regarding two of their most popular movies of the past 5 years. Firstly, the soon-to-be-filmed sequel to the Disney/Bruckheimer blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean is under fire for its portrayal of Carib people in the script. The Caribs in the script are shown as a savage and cannibalistic people, which is not the way the chief of a modern Carib tribe believes his ancestors lived in the time period depicted in the movie. History shows the Caribs as the most dominant people of the region prior to the arrival of the Europeans, and others often referred to them as an aggressive and war-like race. However, there doesn’t appear to be any written history to support the portrayal in the script. A tribal chief has requested that the script be re-worked to paint the ancestral Carib people in a more positive light, but the film is set to begin filming in the Dominican Republic in April of this year. While writers should have the right to artistic license, if an entire group of people comes forward with a gripe about their portrayal in a movie, the writers should try to accommodate them if it is possible without ruining the plot. I have not read the script to see how these people are being portrayed in the sequel, but I can tell you if something like this happened with Native Americans, the production would have been shut down the minute this detail was made public.
In another case of people being angry with Disney, Dennis G. Sternberg of Allenhurst, NJ believes that the 2nd highest grossing animated film of all time, Finding Nemo, was all his idea. In 1991, Mr. Sternberg wrote a children’s story called “Peanut Butter the Jelly Fish” which closely parallels the story of Finding Nemo. However, Sternberg submitted an illustrated manuscript and spoke with Disney and Pixar representatives about his story. In 1996, a Disney vice president told Sternberg that while his story had “great potential,” it was not in line to be made into a movie. Fast forward to 7 years later and Mr. Sternberg saw a trailer for a movie from Disney/Pixar that looked an awful lot like his story. Seems like pretty good grounds for a lawsuit to me, except for the fact that Sternberg signed a waiver. The waiver, which he signed prior to submitting his manuscript to Disney, entitles him to $500 if he were to ever claim that his material were ever used without his permission. Sternberg seems to think that the court should ignore this waiver and consider forcing Disney/Pixar to part with some of the $340 million that Finding Nemo made at the box office. What is incredibly ironic about this story is that in Finding Nemo, Nemo and his father live in a dentist’s office, and I bet you can guess the profession of Mr. Sternberg…Yes, he’s a dentist who is fond of scuba diving, pretty fishy.
No More Rent-A-Cops
Here’s something I’m surprised hasn’t happened already. The Ohio legislature is considering a bill that would allow large theme parks to form their own police departments. The bill was initiated at the request of Geauga Lake and Wildwater Kingdom in Aurora, Ohio, but would also apply to other large parks in the state like Paramount’s Kings Island. The idea of in-park police seems sound, as there would be an imposing presence in the park at all times that could arrest and/or detain people immediately for unlawful behavior. However, the ACLU and other civil liberties activists would likely throw a fit over a place where line cutting would be treated as seriously as shoplifting. With more and more people pushing the limits of the law in theme parks by continuously ignoring posted rules and signs, an increased security presence is truly needed. If this law is passed though, the parks who choose to form their own police departments need to tread lightly and not turn policing their own parks into martial law.
For those of us who have nothing else to do on September 12, 2005, you can now officially reserve a room in one of the two Hong Kong Disneyland hotels for its grand opening day. For a Disney hotel room, the rates are rather reasonable, starting at $205 per night at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, which looks more like the Grand Floridian than anything you would ever find in China, and $128 at the Hollywood Hotel. The only catch is that it might bankrupt you to pay for airfare to get to Hong Kong to have an experience that looks to be about the same that you can get in Florida or California. While I think it’s good for Disney to branch out and expand its theme park operations around the world, they have to take into consideration the local experience, and not rely on tourists to fill a theme park. They should have learned that when they built EuroDisney, but from what I’ve seen of HKDL, the park does not appear to have anything that would make it uniquely Chinese. Disney is expecting an annual attendance of 5.6 million in its first year, but I think the charm may wear off quickly if the park is unable to find its own identity.
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