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August 30, 2006

Monday MouseWatch and Enchanted

bits taken from Jim Hill Media's Monday MouseWatch: "That's why I invited you here ... So that we can avoid the mistakes of the past" article below:

You all remember the Michael Eisner era, right? Back when the company was run by a guy who'd first brag about how there were only two letters difference between how his last name was spelled and how Walt Disney's last name was spelled, then pull out his old Paramount Pictures playbook. Which told him that the very best way to make an executive-level decision was (I'm quoting from James B. Stewart's "DisneyWar" here)" ... put six pit bulls together and see which five die."

Iger? He doesn't do the pit bull thing. He doesn't share Eisner's go-with-your-gut sensiblity. Though -- that said -- Bob has still done some pretty gutsy things over the past 11 months.

And -- no -- I'm not talking about the Pixar acquisition. Truth be told, Iger had to make that deal. Otherwise Wall Street would have never forgiven him for allowing Pixar Animation Studios to get away. No, I'm talking about Bob's decision to finally move "Enchanted" out of development hell and make this ambitious live action / animated feature Walt Disney Pictures' big holiday release for 2007.
"What's so courageous about doing that?," you ask. Well, you have to understand that "Enchanted" is a romantic fantasy-comedy that riffs on traditionally animated Disney films like "Beauty & the Beast," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Cinderella." And -- in order for this Kevin Lima film to work -- the first 10 minutes or so have to be traditionally animated.

And given that -- back in 2003 -- Disney Feature Animation made a very big deal about how it was getting out of the traditional animation business, how Disney Studios would only be making CG features from now on ... To put something like "Enchanted" into production sends a very clear message to the rest of the industry.

To put it bluntly, this is Bob Iger's way of acknowledging that Disney made a mistake by shutting down its traditional animation unit. And by positioning "Enchanted" as the studio's big release for the 2007 holiday season, that signals that Disney believes that there is still a significantly large audience out there that would be eager to see this sort of picture.

And make no mistake, folks. Disney plans on giving "Enchanted" a huge promotional push next year. Not just because the success of this film will then clear the way for a full-blown traditionally animated feature like "The Frog Princess." But -- rather -- because Disney Consumer Products genuinely believes that there are millions of little girls out there that will want to own their very own Giselle doll (I.E. The character that Amy Adams plays in ).

I mean, this is a business after all. But -- that said -- isn't it kind of refreshing to have Disney's new CEO working to ensure the company's future by trying to correct some of the mistakes that the Mouse made in the past? Rather than just ignoring these previous errors and/or pretending that they didn't exist?

Your thoughts?


Posted by dschnee at August 30, 2006 12:22 PM