Behind the Pixar movie family problem

In early January of this year, sonic the hedgehog 2 caused a strong boom at the domestic box office when it opened to $72.1 million in theaters. Paramount insiders estimated that nearly 60 percent of the audience on opening weekend were children and parents, showing that families were genuinely willing to put aside concerns about the ongoing pandemic and return to their homes. cinemas. Hollywood and theater owners breathed a huge sigh of relief.

But when Pixar and Disney toy story cleave Light-year debuted in theaters over Father’s Day weekend, only about 38 percent of those in attendance were families, which helps explain why the film released at $50.6 million, instead of the $70 million at an expected $85 million. Worse yet, it bowed second behind remnant jurassic world domain in a surprise turnaround, although it could boast the best opening of the pandemic for an animated film (Sonic it was a live action/CGI hybrid).

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By Sunday night of the weekend of June 17-19, everyone in Hollywood was asking the same question, since the opening could not be attributed solely to the pandemic: What happened?

Disney insiders privately point to mixed reviews from critics, at least for one Pixar offering, and less-than-enthusiastic audience scores, as well as marketing and brand confusion.

Pixar movies have always been known to appeal to both young and old adults who don’t have children, but family attendance at Light-year it was remarkably light. In June 2019, about 45 percent of ticket buyers for toy story 4 They were children and parents. Kids are known to be regular viewers, which can propel a big-screen movie to amazing multiples.

That didn’t help either Light-year became a political punching bag for conservative Republican lawmakers when a same-sex kiss scene in the film was reinstated after Pixar employees said Disney was censoring “openly gay affection” following the uproar over Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” show. ” invoice.

Following the film’s premiere over Father’s Day weekend, US Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), who is the House Judiciary Committee’s minority ranking member and has 2.8 million followers , tweeted on June 21: “Buzz Lightyear woke up. Disney went bankrupt.” And a verified Twitter account for the GOP Judiciary Committee that has over 223,000 followers followed by tweeting, “do toy story Great again.”

There is no hard evidence to show that political conversation hurts Light-year, though the film underperformed the index by a fairly large margin in the Midwest, according to a source with access to Comscore’s regional data. (toy story 4 was within the normal range three years ago in the Midwest).

Disney experts counter that the red trending states contributed the same percentage of the gross total of Light-year what did they do for sonic 2.

Light-year also underindexed in the Northeast, where many places are Democratic leaning, as well as in Canada. It outperformed in the West and Southeast, including in many Hispanic-led markets. (Hispanics made up more than 30 percent of the audience.)

Analyst Shawn Robbins of Boxoffice Pro says there are bigger issues at play beyond politics, but adds that the latter cannot be completely ignored. “In addition, we should consider the unfortunate backlash over the film’s same-genre relationship from ultra-chatty families, who have also been raised for two years to expect Pixar movies to air sooner rather than later,” says Robbins. , referring to Disney’s decision to ship multiple Pixar films. Disney+ titles since the pandemic. “The combination of those two sentiments seems to have instilled a ‘we’ll see it before we let our kids see it’ mentality in some communities, particularly those with strict religious views, in contrast to the filmmakers’ intentions to defend the equality and representation for all.

Many studio distribution chiefs and box office experts don’t buy the argument that sending the latest Pixar movies directly to Disney+ hurts. Light-year. “Consumers certainly have many viewing options, but there is no substitute for the cinema. Disney activated more than 4 million people to leave television behind and experience Light-year in a way that can’t be replicated at home,” says Steve Buck of EntTelligence, a box office-focused analytics firm.

The film currently has a 76 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and an 86 percent audience score. That compares with 96 percent and 94 percent, respectively, for toy story 4.

The general consensus: There was confusion as to how exactly the film was related to the iconic toy story franchise and the character Buzz Lightyear, who was voiced in the main series by conservative actor Tim Allen. This time, the Space Ranger is voiced by Chris Evans.

“The movie didn’t hit the right buttons,” says a veteran executive at a rival studio.

Adds Robbins: “Marketing took on a nostalgic tone, but one that leaned heavily on the toy story the brand’s older millennial audience and advertised minimal comedic elements, which often propel the biggest four-quadrant animated films at the box office.”

competition of jurassic world was another problem for Light-year. “Kids love dinosaurs,” says another veteran Hollywood executive. And then there’s Top Gun: Maverickwhich has become a huge box office hit and is also receiving love from families almost a month after its debut.

In 2007, Pixar Ratatouille opened at just $47 million, as with Light-yearheadlines everywhere drew attention to the lukewarm number, but then it began to boil over to gross $206.4 million domestically and $626.5 million globally.

Ironically, toy story 4 it also drew negative headlines initially when it opened to $118 million domestically, as pre-release tracking had suggested it would open closer to $140 million, if not higher. That movie crossed $1 billion at the worldwide box office. Exterior, Light-year it started with $34.6 million from its first 43 markets. It did especially well in Latin America, which is a big market for animation.

On July 1, Universal and Illumination premiere the animated sequel Minions: The Rise of Gru in another test for the family box office, whose full recovery is key to the success of Hollywood’s legacy studio system. Just as this story went to press, Paramount announced that sonic 2 has crossed the $400 million mark globally, becoming the only second family photo since COVID-19 to achieve that feat behind sing 2. Pre-pandemic family movies could do much more. (In 2019, for example, four family photos topped $1 billion worldwide.)

Disney and Pixar hope that Light-year it plays throughout the summer, but its holding power remains to be seen once troublesome and ever-disruptive little yellow creatures (aka Minions) invade the multiplex.

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