Eisner feels that Mickey doesn't have a large enough audience to be in theaters

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Brandon Manning, Mar 17, 2004.

  1. Brandon Manning

    Brandon Manning Auditioning

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    Subject: Mickey Mouse at the movies

    Dear friends -

    Would you like to see a great Mickey Mouse movie at your local theater? Well so would I.

    For those of you who don't know me, my name is Donovan Cook and I recently finished directing, The Three Musketeers a Disney animated feature film staring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy. (You can see a short preview of my movie on the Lion King 1 1/2 DVD.) Sadly because of misguided management this movie is scheduled to skip a theatrical release on the big screen and go straight to DVD.

    Mr. Eisner and his executives did not make this decision based on the content or execution of the movie. In fact, the three top executives at the Disney Studio have never seen the movie. Mr. Eisner has been quoted as saying that he doesn’t think there is a large enough audience for Mickey to be in the theaters. Bob Iger, the number two exec at Disney, has publicly added that releasing The Three Musketeers in the theaters is too big of a financial risk because it is not computer animation. High quality classic animation is a financial risk? Not a big enough audience for Mickey Mouse? If you are as confused as me, please read on.

    A few weeks ago, I was discussing this very situation with a friend of mine who is in no way connected with Disney or the entertainment industry. “Who could I send and email to at Disney about this?” He asked. I thought about it for a moment and said, “Well Dick Cook would probably be good.” Mr. Cook, (no relation to myself) is the Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, which means he is the big cheese in charge of all movies, DVDs and TV shows that Disney makes. (Fab's note: and one hell of a great guy. Dick 'gets it.' don't believe me? Ask the nice folks at Pixar. Also, he's a Trojan. Fight on!)

    My friend did send an email to Dick Cook expressing his disappointment about Musketeers going straight to DVD. Now here is the really crazy part, two weeks later, Mr. Cook called my friend to discuss his concerns. Yes you read correctly, the Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios picked up the phone and called a regular Joe just to discuss the email he sent.

    Now it is unlikely that Mr. Cook calls every consumer who sends him an email, which means that this particular issue is of great concern to him. I believe that if enough people express their desire to see Mickey Mouse on the big screen, Dick Cook and the Disney execs will reconsider.

    So if you want to take your kids to see a high quality, classic and funny Disney movie staring Mickey Mouse and friends, send Dick Cook an email at…

    [email protected]

    For your convenience, a sample letter is provided below. You may simply fill in the blanks then copy and paste it into a new email. Better yet, add your own personal concerns/complaints or best of all, write a letter in your own words. (Another note from Fab: it's ALWAYS best to use your own words if you want to be taken seriously. Unless that word is 'infomertional'.)

    A couple notes about your letter; be brief, (unlike me) or Mr. Cook probably will not have time to read it. If you are a Disney stockholder be sure to include that info as it means a lot, especially now.

    Feel free to forward this email to any friends who you think would be interested.

    Thanks for your help.

    All the best to you,
    Donovan Cook

    --------------------------------------------
    (Subject: Letter from a parent and/or stockholder)

    Dear Mr. Cook,

    My name is (your name here) and I am a stockholder (if you do not own Disney stock, omit this) and an undying Disney consumer/fan. I am a parent of (enter number of children) children and our family happily supports Disney products. We see every movie, purchase the DVDs, go to Disneyland/Disneyworld – pick one), watch the Disney Channel as well as purchasing a great deal of Disney products.

    I was recently thrilled to hear that Disney is making a movie of The Three Musketeers staring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. I was however very disappointed to see that this movie will be going straight to DVD.

    I am very excited to introduce Mickey, Donald and Goofy to my (child/children) through this movie, but I do not understand why this movie is not being released in the theaters. These are the characters created by Walt Disney himself. They are what your company was founded on. My family and I would like to see The Three Musketeers the way Walt would have shown it, on the big screen?

    Thank you for your attention. I look forward to your reply.

    (Your Name)
    (Your email address)
    (Your phone number)


    The original article may be found on the Fabulous Disney Babe's website.

    Hmmm . . .

    Mr. Eisner has been quoted as saying that he doesn’t think there is a large enough audience for Mickey to be in the theaters.

    Since when is a man who received a 43% withholding of approval from the shareholders, but remains in his position, a good judge of what people want?

    Bob Iger, the number two exec at Disney, has publicly added that releasing The Three Musketeers in the theaters is too big of a financial risk because it is not computer animation.

    Ah yes, the genius of a Disney executive. These are the same people that believe Home on the Range's "marketing campaign couldn't miss because of (it's) 'killer catch phrase': 'Bust a Moo on April Two!'" (as was said at the WDFA meeting in January where they announced Home on the Range would be rated PG).

    So is Eisner right? Would anybody besides me be in the theater if Mickey made an appearance?
     
  2. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    I thought "The Three Mousketeers" was always going to be a direct-to-video title. Personally, I'm tired of seeing Disney release their low-budget DTV films in theaters, because it lowers the bar -- sentiments toward Mickey Mouse notwithstanding.

    Count me out of the campaign.
     
  3. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I would, but I went to something really mediocre to see "Runaway Brain" and see everything.

    I have to wonder, though - this is something that was planned for DVD release from the start; how would the animation quality look on the big screen? Even if it is good (and I haven't heard anything bad about it), does it have the production values I'd expect?
     
  4. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    I'll take the middle of the road approach...I'm with Ernest in that I don't really want to see movies like this in the theater, of course if they made a Mickey Mouse movie that was intended always for the theater I'd definitely go see it.

    I'm really not sure what the popularity of Mickey Mouse is anymore, I believe I read somewhere that Winnie the Pooh was actually the biggest cash cow for Disney, not the Mouse.

    Just to restate, if they put together a theatrical picture with high quality animation starring Mickey Mouse and released it to theaters I'd go but I really wouldn't want to see 1 of the intended DTV movies on the big screen.
     
  5. Brandon Manning

    Brandon Manning Auditioning

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    I would, but I went to something really mediocre to see "Runaway Brain" and see everything.

    There's nothing wrong with that and you're certainly not the only one. [​IMG]

    how would the animation quality look on the big screen? Even if it is good (and I haven't heard anything bad about it), does it have the production values I'd expect?

    I honestly don't know. I have seen a couple of pictures from the film, and it looks decent. My main problems with the article were the two statements that I responded to. Disney seems to have a knack lately for speaking before they think (traditional animation is dead, we don't need Pixar, etc), with these two being the most recent examples. You can see the images for yourself at magicalears.com/films/animation/ComingUp/ThreeMusketeers/images.php (I can't link it because I'm too new)

    if they made a Mickey Mouse movie that was intended always for the theater I'd definitely go see it

    Absolutely. That was my question in the first place, although I think it got a little lost due to my posting the entire article. Sorry about that.
     
  6. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    If it was done by the TV/ direct to video animation unit, then it should probably go straight to DVD.

    -Dennis
     
  7. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

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    How was that Runaway Brain thing? I remember seeing commercials for it a good couple of years ago. It looked cool but it seems to have disappeared off the face of the planet.
     
  8. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Runaway Brain will be one of the toons on the Mickey Mouse in Living Color: Volume Two DVD, streeting in May.

    If Eisner thinks hand-drawn animation is dead, someone needs to explain to this moron why Lilo and Stitch outgrossed Minority Report. The fact is, they have to blame hand-drawn animation rather than admit to their own failures as executives. When a movie is hit, they take all the credit. When a movie flops, they find a fall guy, or risk their phony-baloney jobs.

    Hand drawn animation took the fall to cover up for the failure of Michael Eisner, to cover up for the creative exodus caused by Eisner's oppressive, stifling management. And that's the truth Ruth.
     
  9. Brandon Manning

    Brandon Manning Auditioning

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    The fact is, they have to blame hand-drawn animation rather than admit to their own failures as executives.

    Ding, ding, ding, ding!

    Winner! Give the man a prize. Too bad Eisner has the board stacked with yes-men that will back him until the end (which will hopefully be soon).
     
  10. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    Ernest - you really should try having an opinion.

    If this film was intended for DTV, then it should not be released theatrically. I too have had enough of Disney DTV films getting a theatrical release (Toy Story 2 excepted, of course).

    But I would leap at the chance to see a full-length theatrical Mickey movie. (Provided its real Mickey - by which I mean Mickey shouldn't skateboard in an attempt to appeal to the morons that are the youth of today.)
     
  11. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

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    Cool. [​IMG]
     
  12. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    Well, we don't even know for sure if this is a legit letter. My first impression was that it seems odd for a little-known director to jeopardize his career by criticising Disney management.



    Thanks, Geraldine. "Look out, Jack! Whoo!"
     
  13. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    "But I would leap at the chance to see a full-length theatrical Mickey movie. (Provided its real Mickey - by which I mean Mickey shouldn't skateboard in an attempt to appeal to the morons that are the youth of today.)"

    You may not like Runaway Brain, then, since it begins with Mickey obssessed over beating a videogame.

    I was once asked how a modern writer should approach Mickey, and my immediate response was one word: Chaplin. Not Great Dictator or Monsieur Verdoux Chaplin, but City Lights Chaplin. I'd also welcome an attempt by Disney Feature Animation to do a hand-drawn feature based on Mickey and friends, I just reject all direct-to-video animated features by Disney on principle, and I think the company sunk to a new low by releasing them into theaters. They glutted the market with this junk, they were of negligible quality, and as such, they hurt the value of the Disney brand name and hurt the "event status" of the "real" animated features at the box office. Parents used to trust the name "Disney" on an animated feature, because it stood for quality, it stood for the gold-standard in family animation. Typing out a list of the direct-to-video titles is actually painful, like catalouging acts of self-abuse. Watching them trying to pass the DTV properties off as theatrical features was like watching a fat man chopping off and eating his own hand to to sate his gluttony.
     
  14. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I've wondered why they blame the form of animation rather the quality of the story. Pixar movies do well not because they are computer-generated, but because they have great stories.

    I hoped "Lilo and Stitch" and "The Emperor's New Groove" signaled a revived era of Disney animation. New styles, new humor, new stories. These would also have been a great stylistic counterpoint to the wonderful Pixar movies. And anmiation would have a great rennaisance... in my dreams [​IMG]

    As for animated Mickey Mouse...Mickey who? I think the last time I saw Mickey was "The Prince and the Pauper", shown before Roger Rabbit.

    My affection for Disney has faded. While I still desire quality animated films, Mickey has no allure for me anymore. So the petition doesn't hold any interest.

    Come out with an exciting, quality animated film and I'll be there with bells on! But I think that requires new characters, not trotting out an old character in an attempt to polish a tarnished brand.
     
  15. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    Yes! Exactly!
     
  16. Paul_Sjordal

    Paul_Sjordal Supporting Actor

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    Erm, Matt, if they don't make a Mickey Mouse cartoon with the intent of appealing to children, who should they make the movie for? Your comment is, erm, odd. Kids are the target. If you're no longer a kid, you're no longer the target. I'm sure you'll get over it.
     
  17. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Walt Disney was like PIXAR is today - he didn't make "children's films", he made "family films". His Mickey Mouse shorts were wildly popular back in the day with both adults and children.
     
  18. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    OK, true. But the thing about Mickey is that he's a timeless character. When I hear Eisner talk about wanting to make Mickey more appealing to young audiences by having him skateboard and the like (which he did say recently), that s wrong. It's taking the easy path to get kids to like Mickey at the expense of his character, when all they need to do is make a good film with a good story and retaining a bit of integrity to the character.

    Besides, Mickey is a character that needs to appeal to everyone. Skateboarding Mickey may appeal to a section of the audience, but he'll alienate a lot more than he would gain.

    EDIT: I see Ernest has responded, and I entirely agree with what he said.
     
  19. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    "When I hear Eisner talk about wanting to make Mickey more appealing to young audiences by having him skateboard and the like (which he did say recently), thats wrong. It's taking the easy path to get kids to like Mickey at the expense of his character."

    Exactly. Can you say "sky-surfing Jim Hawkins" in Treasure Planet? Yeah, THAT went over real well with the kids.
     
  20. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    I agree with this, its real easy to just slap Mickey on a skateboard to get the attention of the kids, it takes real skill to take Mickey as he is and get the kids to pay attention. Its called creativity which while maybe not in short supply over at Disney is hindered by idiots in management that look for the easy way out. The way they do things you get Mickey skate boarding, and what's next Donald Duck show casing his battle rap skills?
     

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