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?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.
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."
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.A Bust in the Bayou indeed.
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.'"