Monday, December 14, 2009

A Bomb in the Bayou for Disney


The Princess and the Frog debuted this past weekend, bringing in an incredible $25 million in box office receipts.

We told you about this film before, as Black people had been patiently waiting for a Black Disney princess for nearly 100 years. Now they have her, and all critics aren't singing her praises:

"Six decades after unleashing persistent NAACP bugaboo Song of the South (1946), and two after firmly suppressing it, that peculiar cultural institution known as the Walt Disney Company has made a symbolic reparation by creating its first African-American princess—and plunking her down in the middle of Jim Crow–era Louisiana! A patronizing fantasia of plantation life in post–Civil War Georgia, Song could at least be understood—if hardly excused—as a product of its time (18 years before the passage of the Civil Rights Act). But is Disney's latest, The Princess and the Frog, the Obama-era fairy tale that anyone other than the "birther" crowd has been waiting for?

This hasn't been a banner season for black characters in American movies, from the women lusting after ideals of white beauty in Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair (FYI, Tiana also sports a chemically "relaxed" 'do) to the high school football phenom showered with Sandra Bullock's charity in The Blind Side.

Indeed, it says something when, excepting Nelson Mandela in Clint Eastwood's forthcoming Invictus, the closest thing to an assertive, self-confident role model onscreen right now is the obese, illiterate, abused, and HIV-positive "Precious" Jones, who eventually stops fantasizing that someday her prince might come and gets down to the business of getting her GED."
Rottentomatoes.com, a fantastic website that brings together all the reviews of films to create a "fresh" rating, found that The Princess and the Frog garnered a rating of 83 percent fresh, which means a lot of critics were afraid of writing anything negative about a Black princess for fear of their jobs.

Let's be honest: the movie appeals to Black people only, and with 13 percent of population counting as African-American, the ability for this film to be a big money maker for Disney is not a winning proposition.

It will be interesting to see if this film can even crack $100 million in the domestic box office market. Why is this film so important - besides being the first Black Disney princess film - you might ask? Simple:
"Let's remember : in 2003, Disney closed down their 2D animation department, deciding to stop making more "line drawn" animated films like their past glories from the 90's : The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast... That decision was based mainly on the fact that CGI films earned more at the time than their films (Brother Bear, Treasure Planet, ...), which lead to the release of films like Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, The Wild. "
So Disney decided to dump the first Black princess into a genre of animation that hasn't garnered much money since the 1990s, instead of creating a Pixar film that continues to see massive profits for the company being produced with lily-white casts.

Stuff Black People Don't Like will include The Princess and the Frog bombing, for Black people alone seeing this film five or six times won't save it from being a monumental flop that puts the final nail in the coffin of Disney 2D animation:

"First of all this movie is pretty terrific. It's funny, emotional, scary, and genuinely romantic; so everyone who has kids or likes animation should really make a point to check it out before the end of the year. Second of all, the cold truth is that this opening was actually pretty weak. When you consider the publicity that this film received for its 'groundbreaking' African American characters and the buzz over the return to traditional 2D cell animation, I'm pretty sure Disney was hoping for at least a bigger opening than Bolt or Meet the Robinsons.

Heck, it barely beats out the October 03 $19 million opening of Brother Bear when adjusted for inflation ($23 million at 2009 prices). And it certainly sold fewer tickets than the various $20-$22 million openings of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire back when Disney was in an alleged post-Lion King 'slump.'"
A Bust in the Bayou indeed.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a dismal open for a movie that had so much hype, advertising and eager anticipation! I read somewhere that this movie only did $5 million more than the beavis and butthead movie released during the holiday season in 1996(when ticket prices were significantly less)! There is a great story here but unfortunately no-one but spdl is the only entity with backbone to report it! There were tons of kids at the movies here this weekend mine included but most went to see the christmas carol movie again! oh well maybe their next diversity/multi-cultural driven film "the prince and the prince" might do better! lol

Steve said...

What gives me a chuckle is blacks always bitching about lack of black super heros, princesses and other characters. Why do they wait for these creations to be made for them? Pick up a damn pencil and make your own..oh wait that would require initiative its easier to protest and be coddled than it is to create.

Anonymous said...

To the racist poster at 9:58PM

$25million is large amount of money especially in recession. White conservatives are so racist that they cant stand to see a successful black at anything.

Anonymous said...

Actually, this is a bust of a film. Consider the box office results, adjusted for inflation, Beavis and Butthead made a lot more in its opening weekend than this film did.

It will have a hard time coming anywhere close to $100 million in domestic box office receipts.

Marketing wise, the movie might see positive sales around Christmas as Black parents buy their little girls Tiana-themed gifts, but this merchandise won't have anywhere near the universal appeal of say a Belle, Jasmine, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White.

Expect a significant drop this week as movie-goers flock to see Avatar and then a 20 - 30 percent increase over Christmas.

Anonymous said...

To the unenlightened poster @12:46pm on 1/15

You are kidding right? Have you not read the many reports that hollywood's box office intake is miraculous? Or the reports that when the economy is down, box office receipts are UP? This movie should have broken records with a huge opening! It should have set a high bar for future holiday animation releases! The undeniable truth.....it did NOT! I'm going to guess but i imagine that you are saying that any white people(liberal or conservative) that did not run out and watch this movie are racist! If only it were that simple!

For the life of me i dont see how my post above is racist! Unless it is for the fact that it is truthful which is another entity in SBPDL!

sincerely,

The racist poster at 9:58PM

Anonymous said...

All posts that do not validate the black supremist agenda are racist. Also, telling the black victim race to take responsibility and initiative for themselves, I have never heard such hateful racist talk. We are sending the thought police to collect you and put you into diversity concentration, I mean, training camp.

Anonymous said...

I would care about this movie if my last name was Disney. My stocks including Disney are doing okay. So, we are doing just fine.

-Black guy

Anonymous said...

Steve,

What gives me a chuckle is the number of white people that believe the(paid)black pundits on TV actually speak for anyone but themselves.

-Black guy

Anonymous said...

We are one of many black families that have zero interest in this movie. In the end it's just a corporate attempt at using a made up "contraversy" to sell tickets. I know a lot of black chicks that grew up with Barbie dolls, and no one gave a damn because they are just toys.

Based on what I'm learning here it's white people that get all worked up over absolutely nothing.

Check out the old site "Stuff black peopele hate" if you want to really learn about what pisses black people off. Disney corp. losing a little money on a stupid movie isn't one of them.

-Black guy

Anonymous said...

Give a black guy a microphone and you can't get him to stop yakking, or singing, or rapping (or posting) . They just love to hear themselves be "clever". I'm guessing,, oh ye of stereotypically little mind, that the reason this topic is on the forum is because apparently even BLACK people hate this movie. Hence, the low returns. And the reason it's mentioned on things black people hate. I'd say the next thing on the forum ought to be "blacks hate to give up the microphone even when everybody has left and gone home".

Anonymous said...

Everyone saying the same thing is just so exciting.

-Black guy

grendal said...

a black "princess" that's a laugh,i also like how they throw "voodoo" into the story like it's a real religion or that voodoo is real at all...ha

Anonymous said...

Agree, just like if Christianity, Muslim, etc are real at all too... just a bunch of "Voodoo" stuff to me. I believe in the Cookie Monster!

Jennifer said...

Bad news: $25 million is far from "incredible". For a film that was hyped for two years and had a production budget of over $100m, $25m is the kind of thing that gets a lot of people fired. For a DISNEY film that was hyped for two years, this is the kind of thing that makes at least one person eat a bullet. On Christmas Day, this film came in eighth place. Eighth! As of today, it has recovered a little more than half of its production budget. Face it, black folks: The Princess and the Frog is a bomb.

Stuff Black People Don't Like said...

Jennifer,

I am shocked by how badly this movie has performed. You are right to point out the positive press and glowing reviews this film had. Go back and read the entry I did on this movie a few months ago - search for Disney - and I projected the film to make about $100 - $120 million domestically... it might not even break $75 million!!!

This is a huge story... and only will you find it discussed at SBPDL.com

Jennifer said...

SBPDL, there is nothing more aggravating than watching black people try to explain this away. The excuses they are coming up with would be hysterical if they weren't so pathetic. If BET had made this movie, they'd be killing themselves trying to burn the theater down. But because Walt Disney made a few black women feel pretty (because let's face it, their daughters don't really care), they'll ignore everything else. Even worse, they want to blame people like us who want to know what the hell is happening, as opposed to Disney, who COMPLETELY botched this opportunity, and are now quietly taking all those Tiana posters down and pulling ads from TV.

This movie dropped from #1 (with weak sales) to #2 to #7 in three weeks. How do you drop all the way down to #7 when kids are out of school for Christmas? If it was any other movie, it would be a bomb. If black people had made this movie, it would be a travesty. But it's Walt Disney, so all these black women are closing their eyes, clicking their heels and muttering NOT A BOMB, NOT A BOMB, NOT A BOMB while they prepare for the 7:00 showing. Give me a break. You hitched your wagon to the wrong white people. Now redeem yourself and demand some answers!

Jennifer said...

Oh, one other thing: I wrote about this two years ago, before Disney made so many changes. My prediction was that the film would open to around $40m, hold steady during the holidays, then peter out at around $150m by the end of February. When it opened at $25m, I was stunned. When I saw the press was trumping the fact that the film opened at #1 and ignoring the weak numbers, I knew it was over before it even began. One person I was reading about online was talking about how s/he's seen it three times. Three times! In three weeks! Avatar, I'll give you. Star Trek, I'll give you. The Matrix films? Guilty as charged. But THIS?

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is, this is actually a good movie, as pretty much anything Lasseter is involved with is. I went in with admittedly low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised to find out there was a good story with good characters.

Anonymous said...

This movie sucked, it bombed because of the bad plot and lame story not because the princess was black.

Anonymous said...

What bothers me in the aftermath of this movie's abysmal failure is how the Disney Brass is in extreme denial as to why the film failed. To us who read SBPDL, it's obvious, but to Disney? It's little boys.

Disney thinks the word "princess" was the deterrent for keeping boys from wanting to see this film, and thus its lackluster box office returns. No one wonders why most children, male and female, have seen Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. Female protagonists didn't keep boys away from these films, including re-releases. But now somehow boys just don't want to see a Disney animated film because of a princess character? Could it have been something else? Like white parents not wanting their kids clamoring for black dolls and posters of black princesses?

This BS would be laughable if it weren't for some recent developments. The Disney film "Rapunzel" was renamed, and now it's called "Tangled." The first film featuring the character of John Carter of Mars couldn't be called A Princess of Mars because it contained the dreaded word "princess," and the film is being touted as a flop even though audiences seem to have liked it.

And let's not forget Disney bought Marvel Comics in the hopes of having a built-in male audience. Too bad that male audience is in their late 20s and beyond. Kids haven't read actual comic books for at least two decades.

No, The Princess and the Frog failed because Disney's core audience is white, and they don't want to see films with black characters in it. Make a film with black characters and watch that Disney core audience stay far away.

I noted also that the toys of Disney princesses sold well, but those Tiana dolls stayed on the shelves. It's hard not to notice the avoidance of the darker dolls at Christmastime.

I hope the Disney Denial ends after we get rid of Obama this November.