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The BLOGFlume—Let’s Go Crazy

Insanity, Disney World, and the Pixar debacle

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: March 16, 2005 at 11:11 PM

Pretty Crazy
KVBC.com 3/10/05
It doesn’t quite look as insane as its name would suggest, but Insanity, on top of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas, Nevada has opened. The attraction, built by X-Scream designers, Interactive Rides, tests the fears of riders as it flings them over the side of the tallest structure west of the Mississippi. The video of the ride shows the operation of the attraction, and the views of the ground that look pretty terrifying. Ever since the tower was denied a rocketcoaster launching up the side of the tower by the city of Las Vegas, the hotel/casino has added two impressive attractions that prey on people’s natural fear of heights, and make the High Roller and Big Shot seem like simple playground rides. The only problem is that there is no more room on top of the tower to add anything else without dismantling a current attraction. It’s actually pretty amazing that they were able to get 4 complicated attractions on the top of a 1,000-foot tower, but how many different ways can there be to exploit acrophobia. I would definitely be willing to give Insanity a spin, but these rides on the top of the Stratosphere cannot keep their mystique forever. The Big Shot and High Roller are no longer hip because of X-Scream, and most people only rode the two original attractions because it made more sense to pay for all of the attractions and elevator ride. Can the attractions on top of the Stratosphere last, or will they slowly wither away with age and disinterest? Stratosphere may have added Insanity too soon after X-Scream. Interest was still high for the X-Scream experience, and a new attraction really wasn’t necessary to boost interest. I don’t think that Insanity really changes anyone’s plans for a Vegas vacation. While Insanity looks incredibly terrifying, in the end, it is just another carnival ride 1,000 feet off the ground.

Typhoon is Back
Sun Sentinel 3/16/05

What once was one of the most innovative water parks in the world is just about done with a massive facelift. Typhoon Lagoon, Walt Disney World’s second water park after River Country, unveiled its newest attractions which includes Crush N’ Gusher, a water coaster much like the famous Master Blaster at the Schlitterbahn water parks in Texas. I still can’t stand that name, as it probably doesn’t translate very well in other languages, let alone English. Still, the slide itself looks like a lot of fun, and early reviews suggest that the slide complex will be a big hit at the water park that has recently fallen to second fiddle to the critically acclaimed Blizzard Beach.

Walt Disney World is also preparing for a series of attraction openings in conjunction with Disneyland’s 50th anniversary. EPCOT Center has reportedly begun testing and previews of Soarin’, located in The Land pavilion, and no, it doesn’t look like a new movie was shot to differentiate it from the original California Adventure attraction. However, there are rumors suggesting that a new movie may start production and be worked in after the 18 month Disneyland celebration. Disney/MGM Studios has also begun previews of the new Lights, Motors, Actions! Extreme Stunt Show, and it has been reported that guests have been able to get Fastpasses to watch technical rehearsals for the new stunt show. Both attractions are slated to open for full operations prior to the May 5, 2005 kickoff of the 50th Anniversary celebration. The one Walt Disney World attraction that is still under construction, Expedition Everest, is supposedly ahead of schedule, and recent photos of the massive mountain suggest that the innovative roller coaster is in its last year of construction. Animal Kingdom looks like it too will be joining the party before the celebration ends at the end of 2006.

Life Without Pixar
LA Times 3/16/05

Clearly one of the most important tasks for Robert Iger when he takes over as the leader of the Mouse House is to try to improve relations with Pixar, and try to woo Steve Jobs back to the bargaining table. However, Disney is not making Iger’s job easy. By planning for a worse case scenario, and an uncertain future without Pixar, Disney has formed a computer animation division that will solely be responsible for making sequels out of Pixar movies starting with Toy Story. It appears that Disney is no longer interested in original ideas – instead they choose to piggyback on Pixar properties. What’s really dumb is that Disney is still required to pay royalties to Pixar on sequels that Pixar is not involved in, and they plan to set the budgets just under $100 million with one sequel planned per year. Not only does this division make the mending of fences nearly impossible for Iger, but it puts a lot of money into sequels of movies that could blow up in Disney’s face if the sequels cannot rekindle the same spirit, enthusiasm, and box office punch of the Pixar originals. While it behooves Pixar to make good with Disney, it has to really annoy every employee at the animation firm to think that all of their hard work is going to be shredded by this new Disney unit.

Readers' Opinions

From Joe Lane on March 17, 2005 at 9:35 AM
I think Disney's thoughts with Soarin' is that by using the same film from California now and producing a new film later down the line, they've made an attraction that can offer different guest experiences, much like ToT had different incarnations and how Mission: Space will likely have a new mission programed in a few months. This way, your typical, uneducated Guest will think Disney is doing a lot of work making TWO films for Epcot's Soarin' when, in fact, they're putting off spending the money to make a brand new film right out of the gate.

And yes, it does seem like Disney is doing unoriginal things making its own 3D movies using their Disney/Pixar licenses, don't forget Chicken Little, a Disney production that is unaffiliated with Pixar. Since the purging of WDFA-FL, I think we're going to see a big shift in 3D animation. Who knows, the next Pooh movie might even be completely 3D.

2D is NOT dead.

From Erik Yates on March 17, 2005 at 2:48 PM
No 2D is not dead and i think that with a surge of bad computer animation movies (like Shark Tale, the soon to be Madagascar, and Robots) despite the box office successes and the spawning of hapless sequels,people may long for the beauty of hand-drawn animation. However, the thing that made Pixar so successful is the fact that they dont look like cheeseball cartoons like the other animation studios, but very real, and stand alone as works of art. As for Iger, he probably needs to scrap that whole animation studio thing before they blunder anything like Prince Valiant(due latter part of 2007). Now to the rides, growing up Florida I've been bitten by the Rat all too many times, but recent years have seen the evil empires palace almost go to shambles. I know that without the movies there wouldnt be a peter pan ride or a Mr. Toads Wild ride, but why cant we shift those kind of things to MGM Studios?? Lets get back to the Imaginearing part that made most of us fall in love with Disney in the first place and come up with some eally good original ideas. I might be alone in this but i think that it shows lack of imagination and vision to just plop down all kinds of rides based on movies, and rehash old ideas from other parks. Now Everest is something that i am really looking forward to, it seems like good old fashioned Disney Innovation at work. I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin.
Stratosphere? I think you're right on that one, a couple of years in between projects in a place where your space is limited would have been a much better idea than the rush that they seem to have been in for the past couple of years. Maybe Vegas should lighten up a bit and let them build a coaster that drops you right off the side of the building loops you all the way to the bottom and then rockets you straight back up.
From Robert Niles on March 17, 2005 at 3:51 PM
It's so bleepin' simple: If you run an entertainment company, hire storytellers. Then give them the tools to tell stories. And stay out of their way when they do.

Two-D, 3D, 4D? Try one "D" -- as in it Don't matter. Guys like Brad Bird can tell stories in whatever format you give 'em. Find them and hire them... and don't let them get away. (Like, oh, say, the aforementioned Academy Award-winning Mr. Bird.)

From Derek Potter on March 17, 2005 at 4:59 PM
I would make a special trip to Vegas for a coaster running off of the top of Stratosphere...make it a vertical drop.

Disney being unoriginal??? nahhhh

From Carrie Hood on March 17, 2005 at 10:26 PM
LOL!

I've been waiting for a local waterpark here in Central Florida to get one of the Water Coasters like Schlitterbahn, now I'll surely hit up Typhoon Lagoon this summer.

From TH Creative on March 20, 2005 at 6:10 AM
The assertion that Robert Iger must make it a priority to mend fences with Pixar is ridiculous. It's been a year since Steve Jobs made a very public display of walking away from the negotiating table -- and his temper tantrum hasn't cost Disney one red cent. Indeed, had they re-negotiated the original contract, Disney may have made substantially less money from 'The Incredibles.'

Mr. Iger should NEVER EVER EVER agree to a new deal with Pixar if it means that Disney has to give up a significant share of the revenue from 'Cars' or the right to make sequels to previous Pixar/Disney films. Period.

To quote Steve Mallas (again) from 'Motely Fool:'

"... the success of 'Robots' made me think mostly of the failure of Disney and Pixar to come to terms on a new agreement AND WHY IT WON'T MATTER MUCH TO DISNEY IN THE LONG RUN."

"Simply put, there just isn't a monopoly on creativity. Any person (or corporation) that wants to put the work into a computerized cartoon can make one, and perhaps even a decent one. As time goes on, all manner of conglomerates will be able to replicate the Pixar model."

"Now, don't worry, all you Pixar bulls out there. I do agree that your company is unique and has a lot of brand equity attached to it."

"But can Michael Eisner's wish to stand firm on his dealings with Steve Jobs be completely dismissed as self-aggrandizing, egomaniacal foolishness? Not this time."

"Why give up too much in the potential upside when you can either develop internal projects or hook up with an undervalued partner? After all, the technology is there, and even if you can't beat the grosses of Jobs et al., you at least get to count on a higher degree of cash flow control."

"(E)very time I see a franchise like 'Shrek' raking in the cash or 'Robots' having a pretty good opening, I do wonder why some in the media think it was such a bad idea for Eisner to rebuke Jobs and his bag of toy stories."

Amen!

From Erik Yates on March 20, 2005 at 6:56 AM
But its exactly that rational that gives us travesties like "Cinderella Dreams do come true". If all you're worried about is the bottom line, then I have a man in red that will give you all you want for one measely little soul. What the evil empire wants is to increase the bottom line at all costs, even if it means the sacrifice of a good story to something less than mediocre. And that doesnt only apply to relations between disney and Pixar, it really applies to everything that disney does. It worries so much about how many tickets it can sell, that the imagination process seems to suffer. Again I point to the fact that besides Test Track, and Soarin over California(i would say Mission:Space, but thats loosely based on Mission to Mars) they havent had much that I've seen that wasnt based on a movie or brought from another park. Now i havent been to the California parks, but to hear people on the site talk, they are more of the same, rehashes of the same ideas just in new sparkling packages. So its not just a mending of fences with Pixar that disney needs to look at, but a campaign to get back to their roots and start worrying more about bringing happiness to the world and sparking imagination in all those who they touch. But the response i expect is "Well its a business, its all about money, blah blah blah-ching." And again its sad that we have to sacrifice quality and imagination for the almighty dollar. Remember, it was disney's idea to put Toy Story 2 directly to video.
From TH Creative on March 20, 2005 at 2:12 PM
Just got back from spending the day at Typhoon Lagoon! I am pleased to report that visiting families will be thrilled with the Crush 'N Gusher.

The new attraction boasts three different coaster slides. One of the slides (the Pineapple Plunger) allow three person family tubes. While all three were a blast, the middle slide (Coconut Crusher) was our favorite.

Finally, besides opening the new slides, Disney also added more lounge space and a moderately sized swim pool at the bottom of the new slide -- opening a whole new area and more recreation space. My kids were delighted to be welcomed to the new slide by Lilo and Stitch characters (a nice touch).

My wife, kids and I are all AP holders to the Disney waterparks (a nice bargain at $100 a year). The addition of the new slides and swim area will guarantee that we will renew our passes again.

From TH Creative on March 21, 2005 at 2:04 AM
Mr. Yates decries how Disney: "rehashes of the same ideas just in new sparkling packages."

An academic question: Hasn't that been the basis of Disney's business model since the company began? Aren't animated versions of Snow White, Peter Pan, Pinnochio, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Alice in Wonderland all repackaging and representing old stories in shiny new packages? Hell, there are some critics who have noted that several Pixar films have similar themes (aka "rehashes"). The Pixar model: small characters, facing seemingly insurmountable odds, take a long journey for the greater good. The story is presented in Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bugs Life, Finding Nemo.

From Joe Lane on March 21, 2005 at 7:35 AM
I think Erik was referring to Disney’s penchant for cloning attractions amongst their theme parks, although one could make the argument that the company does the same exact thing to its movies by taking its older, almost revered properties and crafting sequels of a somewhat sub par nature. By sub par, I’m referring to mediocre animation and story. The only major appeal many of the sequels have are the characters—most of which experience little to no character development as opposed to their growth in the original films. That’s not to say this is always the case.

I’ll give you credit for pointing out that nearly every Disney movie, animated or otherwise, is based off of a story or novel. Many of Disney’s animated features are based off of popular Grimm’s Fairy Tales or classic children’s books, like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Winnie the Pooh. His live actions films were no different (Mary Poppins, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, Swiss Family Robinson). But Disney has featured some films which have little to no inspirational work connected to them, including The Lion King and Lilo & Stitch.

It seems critics of the Pixar films must have some bone to pick with the company. In any case, the elements of small characters facing insurmountable odds on a great quest are classic story elements that appear many times over throughout our literary history and, in my opinion, are too broad and vague. I wouldn’t consider these recurring themes to be the same kind of "rehash" work that Disney does by releasing... "unnecessary" sequels like Peter Pan: Return to Neverland, Cinderella 2 or The Jungle Book 2.

From Erik Yates on March 21, 2005 at 3:00 PM
Yes, thats exactly what I'm saying. While everyone is guilty of taking movies from source materials(how can they not) Disney is very irresponisble in the "unecessary sequels". Do I need to point out Lion King 1 1/2? There has to be a line somewhere. It would seem that they go back to the well for what would almost be a sure thing, because there is a fanbase for an already devoloped character. That is the only reason they want to do a Monsters Inc. 2 and a Finding Nemo 2....They already found him, is he going to get lost again, if so I think Marlin just needs to let him go. And the format that they are planning on releasing it. I dont think that Toy Story 2 would have had the same effect on video as it did on the big screen. Those were the types of things that Pixar was standing against, those and the fact that next to Disney they were getting ripped off for something that Disney basically just released. Thank you for the backing. But the real point that I was trying to point out was, yes, the parks. I simply think that if you're going to have a movie ride put it in your movie park, is that so wrong? Again I love rides such as Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and all the good old fashioned favorites. But again would it be so bad to put say Peter Pan (seeing that there are two movies one of which the ride is based) in MGM? Or the living Seas into Animal Kingdom? Not to be nitpicky, but all the recent rides, with an exception, are based on the movies...Stitch's great escape, Buzz Lightyear etc. I've said it before, the imagination well just seems to have gone dry.
From TH Creative on March 21, 2005 at 6:04 PM
Mr. Yates Writes: Do I need to point out Lion King 1 1/2?

I Respond: Do I need to point out ‘Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo,’ or ‘The Barefoot Executive,’ or ‘Super Dad?’ For all of the magical hyperbole surrounding this company’s history, Disney has never been shy about making bank off of mediocrity. Can anyone sit through ‘Robin Hood’ without wincing at all the cheap cleavage and butt jokes? “Oodalolly!” (sic).

And while I realize that the company’s namesake and Fredo’s Dad took courageous risks in developing new forms of entertainment, there were competitors in that same industry that were equally innovative. Ever notice how ‘Spin and Marty’ never makes anyone’s list of top ten – or top 4,398 for matter – television shows? Of course you haven’t.

By the way, I think the idea of developing a new ride based on Peter Pan is nothing less than BRILLIANT. Use the same ride system as Spider Man. Base it around ‘You Can Fly.’ Absolutely brilliant, Mr. Yates.

From Ted Heumann on March 22, 2005 at 10:46 AM
Is everyone brain dead?!?! When Disneyland was OPENED in 1955, 75% of the rides were based on movies!! All of Fantasyland, most of Frontierland, most of Tomorrowland and Adventureland was based on the famous Disney nature documentaries.
And why do Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom have to be two completely different parks?!?! NO ONE's parks are ALL different, not Universal, not Paramount, not Six Flags. Epcot Center and MGM have maybe one or two attractions that are also on the west coast. California Adventure has two or three attractions that are also on the east coast.
Everyone (including Disney) knows that the sequels are not up to par with the originals, THAT IS WHY they release them straight to video! There is obviously a consumer demand for these movies or else Disney wouldn't make them. Children like what is familar that is why my son watches the same videos over and over again. I agree with the above comment. No one (not even Pixar) can always deliver the goods every time. That is exactly why Disney won't give away GUARANTEED profits for POSSIBLE future profits because eventually (probably soon) Pixar is going to make a STINKER (example: the Incrediables wasn't that good. Most of the people in my family hated it.)
WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE WHAT!?! I am not an employee of the Disney company, nor am I a Disney dork, but it seems to me that all you people what to do is complain about Disney.
I guess everyone hates a winner.
From TH Creative on March 22, 2005 at 11:03 AM
Amen Ted! Even Mr. Baxter slammed 'The Incredibles.'

What amazes me id the way the media have bough into the whole "Iger must mend fences with Pixar" schtick.

I said this more than a year ago, Pixar needs Disney as much (if not more) than Disney needs Pixar. Period.

From Erik Yates on March 22, 2005 at 3:07 PM
No matter what happens, Pixar will find a distributor, which is all disney is. They produce above standard and above par movies. Hey TH, make sure you get your tickets early for Herbie Fully loaded. As far as your references guys, OF course I've never seen SPin and Marty on any lists, not all of us were around to watch the documentaries and specials that Disney aired. And, yes it would be nice to go to a disney park and not see something that isnt so great reduplicated at every friggin park you go to. AND it would seem that even though Pixar "needs Disney more than disney needs Pixar" the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue that Pixar has developed for both Disney's ailing movie studio and the theme parks (Buzz lightyear blasters, the monsters Inc. attraction rumored at Disneyland, the finding nemo area in Epcot the Bugs life 3d thing at animal kingdom the rumored Incredibles attraction at California Adventure did they forget any Pixar films) Disney has become very dependent on the house that Woody built.
From TH Creative on March 23, 2005 at 3:31 PM
Wow ... talk about irony. We just got back from seeing 'Robots.' Everyone here at TPI said the film sucked, which lowered my expectations.

Turns out, it wasn't that bad. Certainly not the nightmare I had expected.

If that were not enough, I saw the trailer to 'Herbie Fully Loaded.' That seemed like it was also packaged nicely. Sitting in an audience made up of Spring break grammer school kids at an afternoon matinee, the trailer got a great response.

So did 'Madagascar' -- look out Pixar.

Fun day at the movies.

From Erik Yates on March 23, 2005 at 4:18 PM
See here we are, different folks with different tastes. Where you love to rip apart Pixar, I loved all the movies(with the exception of Bugs Life, ants have six legs not four) and watch out Pixar? This is where the all mighty dollar comes in, Robots is on track to do Maybe $150 million at the US box office, where Pixars Incredibles did double that easily, and where Shrek 2did exceptionally well, Shark Tale did not live up to expectations, and I thouroughly hated both Shark Tale, and Robots and am very Iffy on Madagascar. AFter all as was stated its a business relationship and not built on pleasing individuals. As for disney family films, Herbie is going to be another forgetable homage to the past like the Haunted Mansion and My favorite Martian, both of which were well recieved by OLD time fans(did that include you TH? lol) but failed miserably at the box office. The pacifier, while a mild success as far as numbers go, fell waaaay shorter than what was expected. I think you'll find the same with Herbie, just because you have a recognizable name and a few big stars, doesnt mean that you can save a movie from bad dialogue and poor writing. But this is THEME PARK INSIDER, not Box office mojo, so this is my last say on the matter........and i'm not sayin......i'm just sayin.
From Erik Yates on March 24, 2005 at 4:46 PM
Hey TH, one last last comment. According to Eonline.com After CARS Pixar will be free, and whats first on the disney free agenda? A movie called RATS, with a rat in red shorts and white gloves as the main villain. Coincedince? hmmmm mabye.
From TH Creative on March 25, 2005 at 5:50 AM
I think the Pixar film is called 'Ratouille' and is to be set in Paris. There's a bit of historic irony to Pixar slapping Disney/Eisner with a rat character. In 'The Great Mouse Detective' the villianous Ratigan (sp.) was said to look like former Disney CEO Ron Miller.

FYI Pixar stock split is scheduled for April 4. Two to one. It trades at $92.00 currently. It usually floats around $60.

From TH Creative on March 26, 2005 at 4:59 AM
Mr Yates writes: 'The Pacifier,' while a mild success as far as numbers go, fell waaaay shorter than what was expected.

I Respond: Um..."waaaay shorter?" Exactly how much was this film "expected" to make? It's made more than $75 million. One would think that a studio would be pleased to make that kind of cash off of such a cliche, fish out of water production.

But please, Mr. Yates, tell us how much the film was expected to make.

From Erik Yates on March 26, 2005 at 9:00 PM
Here we go again. While the initial take was not bad on it, and it now stands around 80 mil at the box office......but with a production cost of 56 million, and an advertising budget of about 30, it still has yet to turn a profit. Most projections have it making just under the 100 million mark probably like 94, but initial projections were for this to be over 175 million in a basic six week run. Thats according to Variety, but when you are dealing with the same old run of the mill cliche fish out of water story that disney has grown to embrace, I guess thats not bad........so what if they dont make anything off of it, I guess they have a second chance at it with DVD. Anything else TH?
From Kevin Baxter on March 26, 2005 at 11:35 PM
Whoever "projected" The Pacifier to make $175M was an idiot. Probably someone inside Disney, who also projected Brother Bear to make $200M. Then again, was it an international projection, cuz that I could buy. Still, unlike recent Disney films, it will do well on DVD, which is apparently all Disney cares about nowadays.

As for The Incredibles... I didn't hate it. I hated Bob, that's for sure, but I just didn't find it to have a single ounce of originality anywhere within it. When I go to the movies, especially CGI movies, I want to see things I haven't seen before, and a fancy-looking island is not enough. I want to see the film go in new directions, like Nemo or Shrek. And if it doesn't go anywhere original, it can at least bother being funny. The Incredibles was incredibly unfunny. I did not trash the film at all. And I would be far more proud to have distributed it than The Pacifier or Ice Princess. But Academy Award deserving? Gawd no!

As for this whole Pixar/Disney thing, I find it more than a little convenient that all that is being focused upon are the films. How many BILLIONS has Disney made licensing the Pixar characters??? If Disney got into a new agreement with Pixar that gave them little profit but the ability to license, they would make MORE BILLIONS. Just see what Pooh has done for the company. To ignore that is seriously retarded.

Furthermore, Disney freely admits the selling power of the Pixar characters. Buzz Lightyear was the "face" for DCA before it opened. He will also be the reason many people will head to Disneyland in the next year. "There's a new Buzz Lightyear ride? Let's go check that out!!!" Flik's Fun Fair is crappy, but it brought people into DCA for a little while. Could DCA have garnered those crowds with Brother Bear's Fun Fair? Considering the bears have been added to DCA and no crowds appeared, this proves the Pixar characters' value to the parks. The Nemo overlay to the subs will brings handsome crowds in 2006 and the proposed Woody area for the boring walkway between Frontierland and Fantasyland should do the same. The true test will be what the Monsters Inc overlay of Superstar Lame-o does for attendance at DCA. The eventual Incredibles ride also, but if a minor dark ride featuring Mike and Sulley gets people into the gates, then Pixar will have proven their worth far beyond the box office. (It's certainly not a coincidence that every single attraction idea at WDI right now involves a Pixar character.)

Disney would be stoopid to let Pixar go, regardless of how much they make off the films. At minimum, the two need to come together for any sequels, since we all know Disney will screw those up (and Disney cannot afford to ruin a cash cow like Toy Story right now). The rest can certainly be handled so there is enough money for everyone.

From Erik Yates on March 27, 2005 at 6:13 AM
Can I get an AMEN?
From TH Creative on March 27, 2005 at 7:49 AM
Mr. Baxter writes: Whoever "projected" The Pacifier to make $175M was an idiot.

I Respond (shooting a glance at Mr. Yates): Thank you.

Mr. Baxter Writes: If Disney got into a new agreement with Pixar that gave them little profit but the ability to license, they would make MORE BILLIONS.

I Respond: So what you are saying is there are hypothetical circumstances in which Disney can make MORE money than they would by sticking to the original agreement.

That makes sense. And perhaps that is what will happen.

But thus far, at least as far as news reports indicate, Pixar has only offered a distribution deal -- with no reference to licensing rights.

Of course, if you believe the James Stewart book ('Disney Wars'), Steve Jobs formulated demands that he knew Disney would never accept. Mr. Jobs was angry at Michael Eisner, because Mr. Eisner testified against Apple (though not by name) during Congressional hearings related to electronic piracey. Perhaps now that Mr. Eisner is gone, Mr. Jobs may be willing to give some licensing rights to Disney.

Now whether or not the licesing rights to a movie about rats -- competing in a CG animation market that is getting more crowded by the minute -- will be worth "billions" is open to discussion. Mr. Baxter illustrates his point by referencing revenue generated by the Pooh franchise. However, it's my understanding that the Pooh frnachise has been Disney's most lucrative -- this happening after multiple Pooh movies, television specials and park placement. To imply that 'Ratouille' will generate Pooh revenue seems a bit far fetched.

Further, as Mr. Baxter notes (and as was implied by a previous blog related to 'Finding Nemo') Pixar's ideas may not be quite as original as they have been in the pass. I'm sure the guy who invented the talking automobiles for Chevron (was it Chevron) is hopping mad about the preview from 'Cars.' Of course, Disney already has licensing rights for 'Cars' so they already get that cash.

If I were advising Robert Iger I would tell him to wait. Wait to see what happens with 'Chicken Little.' Wait to see how 'Toy Story 3' starts panning out. And, more importantly, wait until Mr Jobs inevitablly takes the first step and calls you back to the negotiating table. One would think Mr. Iger would accept this advice -- especially considering his comments last fall that he believed that Disney would never work with Pixar again.

Disney has as many options as Pixar. And while Mr. Jobs is busy weighing his nex step, Disney is preparing the release of 'Chicken Little,' doing pre-production work for 'Toy Story 3' and getting ready to make millions off of 'Cars.'

From TH Creative on March 27, 2005 at 9:24 AM
More on Typhoon Lagoon's 'Crush N’ Gusher'...

The attraction features a conveyor start system ... so you don't have to skootch your butts along to get on the slide. This is nice because you want to lift your rear end during the ride.

The most impressive thing about the new slide at Typhone lagoon is how much bang Disney is getting for its buck. This water slide cost a fraction of what a theme park attraction costs -- and, with minimal marketing, it will bring in new guests who have never visited the park and repeat guests who will be excited to see something new.

The water parks have been crowded every time we have gone over the past year. Concessions have been busy -- sometimes three deep at the bar at Blizzard Beach.

On the whole, these small parks probably don't make that much of a contribution to the bottom line. However, since they no doubt produce black ink, perhaps Disney should recreate the model under new theming elsewhere in the country. Believe it or not, Mr. Baxter and I were actually in agreement about the suggestion that Disney should have built an enclosed waterpark in place of California Adventure.

From Justin Smith on March 27, 2005 at 5:09 PM
As for The Incredibles... I didn't hate it. I hated Bob, that's for sure, but I just didn't find it to have a single ounce of originality anywhere within it. When I go to the movies, especially CGI movies, I want to see things I haven't seen before, and a fancy-looking island is not enough. I want to see the film go in new directions, like Nemo or Shrek. And if it doesn't go anywhere original, it can at least bother being funny. The Incredibles was incredibly unfunny. I did not trash the film at all. And I would be far more proud to have distributed it than The Pacifier or Ice Princess. But Academy Award deserving? Gawd no!

First off the film wasn't surposed to be funny. It was surposed to ba an action film. And I thought the film was pretty original. So the supers had similar power to the super in Fantastic Four. But how many original films are there. And Finding Nemo and Shrek weren't very original either! There are many films that make fun of Disney or have people search for their children!

From Kevin Baxter on March 30, 2005 at 7:42 AM
Okay, you completely copied a paragraph of mine WITHOUT ACKNOWLEDGING THAT YOU DID SO (making everyone confused), but THEN you went and completely misunderstood everything I said. Lord...

I said I want movies to BE ORIGINAL. If they can't BE ORIGINAL, then they should BE FUNNY. The Incredibles was NOT ORIGINAL! So following this simple logic, that means I would have liked The Incredibles IF IT WERE FUNNY. It was NOT FUNNY.

And don't give me that "action movie" crap. Clearly Bob throwing his boss through a dozen walls WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY. Bob lifting the car in front of that kid WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY. Bob driving in the tiny little car WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY. Frozone running around his house WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY. Except for the ending, EVERYTHING WITH FROZONE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY! I could go on and on and on about supposedly funny bits but really the only parts that were meant to be funny and actually WERE FUNNY were: Bob's fatness (which we saw a zillion times in the trailers and commercials), E Mode (chuckle worthy, but once again, seen a million times already) and Elastigirl's big butt (which was my only real laugh in the movie).

Though I don't know why I am responding, since you also seem to think "original" means "nothing even remotely like it ever in the history of the world." Shrek and Nemo took us to NEW places. The Incredibles took us to OLD movies.

From Kevin Baxter on March 30, 2005 at 8:13 AM
Jeez, I forgot to deal with Mr I'm Out of Here!

Who said ANYTHING about Ratatouille making Pooh money??? Is that going to be the only movie Pixar ever makes after Cars??? Cuz you are clearly implying that it is. Say Pixar and Disney come to a five-picture agreement somehow (forgetting all the friggin' crap about the current contract... we are talking distribution, the home market and licensing), is there a possibility that those five movies could create revenue that would challenge Winnie the Pooh??? Of course! Every Pixar movie has done better at the box office and on home video than every Pooh movie. The only place Pooh outsells Pixar is in the LICENSING department. Pooh is everywhere. Pixar is not. Maybe that's because Pixar and Disney are currently sharing revenue on merchandise also. And we all know how much Disney likes to share. Regardless how much money they would make!

While I don't think the Disney name on a Pixar film helps (or hurts) the film, the Disney name on a piece of Pixar MERCHANDISE certainly helps. Disney sucks at marketing their films domestically, but they can get toys and clothes EVERYWHERE. Including into their theme parks and into the Disney Stores. Without Disney, those two prime markets would be out of reach.

If I were Disney, I would distribute for Pixar if I could use the characters in the parks and for a huge chunk of the merchandising. If I were Pixar, I would only sign up with Disney if they agreed to never use anyone but Pixar for sequels and if Disney increased Pixar souvenirs in the parks. Honestly, isn't it a little ridiculous that you can ride a Buzz Lightyear ride and see a Bug's Life movie (and soon be able to ride a Nemo ride and a Woody ride and a Monsters Inc ride and an Incredibles ride) yet you can't buy a shirt that has one of these characters AND the word "Disneyland" on it???

From TH Creative on March 30, 2005 at 10:12 AM
Mr. Baxter Writes: If I were Disney, I would distribute for Pixar if I could use the characters in the parks and for a huge chunk of the merchandising.

I Respond: The operative term here is "if."

Anyway, if I were Disney I would do the same thing.

However, if I am giving up the right to make the sequels and if I have to take less money from 'Cars' I wouldn't put up a dime for (ever rising) production costs. Under the current contract Disney pays for half of the production costs. If Pixar wants sequel rites and is not offering any of the box office or DVD sales, they can finance their own movies.

On the flip side, if Disney refuses to pay for production costs, how willing do you think Pixar would be to give up licensing rights?

From TH Creative on March 30, 2005 at 3:26 PM
By the way, Mr. Baxter, if Pixar is only offering a multi-picture distribution deal (say six films) and no licensing -- in exchange for Disney giving up the rights to sequels and a redistribution of revenue from 'Cars' -- would you advise Disney to take that deal?
From Kevin Baxter on March 30, 2005 at 6:28 PM
Are you just pulling deals out of your ass now? Whatever deal that will be made, with whatever studio that it is made with, will benefit BOTH sides. How does this benefit Disney? Furthermore, why would Disney give up sequel rights? Disney OWNS every character that Pixar has put in a movie. If Disney included Pixar in the sequels, clearly they would get more than just a regular distribution cut from that. And Pixar would have to be willing to lose half the profits of those movies since they will never get to make them without Disney's say-so.

But if Disney gets licensing fees too - of FUTURE PIXAR MOVIES - then clearly Disney will have to accept smaller profits on those films. Pixar needs to realize that no one has a merchandising arm like Disney, so if they ever want to see a Shrek 2-sized hit in their future, they need this massive machine for advertising purposes. Disney needs to realize that Pixar is their next Pooh and that they may need to give up some immediate profits to rack up some enormous future profits.

As for financing, clearly Disney/Pixar sequels would be co-financed. But Pixar films "presented by Disney" would be totally financed by Pixar. Which would actually work out spectacularly well for Pixar. One self-financed flop and Pixar will be in trouble. Pixar needs sequel money in preparation for that flop. Say Pixar makes a Pixar film, then a Pixar/Disney sequel, then a Pixar film and so on. Every other film will be a guaranteed success - which can't be said for a Disney-created sequel or a Pixar original - which will keep both flush in money and will keep their stockholders happy.

From Joe Lane on March 30, 2005 at 9:49 PM
In regards to The Incredibles, I guess it was a movie made for animation fanatics. Creating realistic CG cartoon-like humans is not the easiest thing in the world to do. What Pixar has done is, well, incredible in animation circles.

I am curious: what is unoriginal about a family of once superheroes trying to adjust to daily life suddenly forced back into their superhero gigs? The whole concept of a superheroes secret identity is something we've become accustomed to, yes, but the way Pixar achieves this is unique.

Then again, I'm a sucker for good superhero movies, it's mostly personal preference. ^_^

From Kevin Baxter on March 30, 2005 at 10:51 PM
Well, you mean except for the parts that mimic X-Men's America VS the Superheroes plotline? Yeah, theirs was racism, Bob's was lawsuits. Big deal, both require lots of hiding.

Or the part where Bob hides his new job from his wife, who then finds out and assists him, which is only exactly the plot of True Lies???

Or when the kids have to help to save their parents, which was the plot of all the Spy Kids movies???

The idea behind making an original movie is to take ONE IDEA and take that in a new direction. Bird took an idea, and another idea, and another idea, and so on, until he had so many ideas that he didn't take a single one of them anywhere surprising.

I do totally agree that the film looked great. The film looked fantastic! But that isn't enough for me. A Bug's Life looked fantastic too, but the script was such a jumbled mess I swore it was developed in-house at Disney. People are being fooled by the fancy look of these films now, which reminds me of the videogame industry several years back. PS2, Gamecube, X-Box all came out and all had these amazing-looking games and after a while people realized that being purty wasn't enough. Once people start getting used to the look of CGI films, they'll start demanding better content. Which is why I don't think The Incredibles will stand the test of time.

From Justin Smith on March 31, 2005 at 8:39 AM
Well Kevin I remember you saying you some-what liked the Incredibles.

My question: What did you like about the Incredibles. According to you it was unoriginal, not funny, and Bob was annoying. Well aside from the animation, what did you like?

From Ben Mills on March 31, 2005 at 9:41 AM
I liked Michael Giacchino's score. It may not have been particularly original, but was still great.

Anything is better than Randy Newman, I guess...

From TH Creative on March 31, 2005 at 12:14 PM
Mr. Baxter writes: “Are you just pulling deals out of your ass now?”

I Respond: I’m not the one who initiated the discussion of hypotheticals. You are. On this thread you wrote: “If Disney got into a new agreement with Pixar that gave them little profit but the ability to license, they would make MORE BILLIONS.” Please show us a link to any source that reports that Pixar has made any indication that it is willing to release licensing rights to Disney related to future films. Has such an overture ever been made? My responses have been directly related to your hypothetical deal.

Speaking of Pixar, the stock is up three bucks per share over the last four days on trading -- in anticipation of the 2 for 1 stock split on April 4th.

From Kevin Baxter on March 31, 2005 at 6:09 PM
Clearly, here is someone who needs to understand the meaning of the word "if"!!! Seriously, I am at least throwing out hypotheticals that would benefit BOTH sides of the deal. You are throwing out hypotheticals that benefit only one side and then want to moan and groan that your idiotic hypothetical wouldn't help Disney. DUH! When you create a hypothetical that purposely favors one side, what do you expect? Step into reality for your next one and and we'll continue.

I said I liked the look of The Incredibles. It wouldn't be the first movie that slid by on nothing more than its style, like Sky Captain or Charlie's Angels. And it was enjoyable as I sat there - except for Bob. But it was just one of those movies that the more you think about it afterward, the more you realize you were duped into thinking it was more than it really was. The ideas were there, the characters were there, they just didn't work nearly as well as they should have.

From Joe Lane on March 31, 2005 at 7:45 PM
You're a movie junkie, Kevin. I didn't even recognize the True Lies or Spy Kids connections.

Now that you've pointed them out, though, doesn't change my opinion, of course. The fact that you had to point them out kinda proves how well the Incredibles stood on its own, at least with a college-age, superhero-fanatical audience.

... not saying you're old or anything--you know what I mean. ^_^

From Justin Smith on April 1, 2005 at 3:25 PM
I don't think it follows True Lies or Spy Kids that much either. The mom in spy kids didn't bring the kids with her, the mother and father were both kidnapped, the kids in Spy Kids had gadgets, the kids in Incredibles had super powers, the kids in Spy Kids search for their parents during the whole movie, the kids in didn't really search for their parents but fight bad guys. So as you can see their are alot of differences. As for True Lies, I didn't see the whole thing, but I know Arnold wasn't a Superhero!

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