Sunday, April 25, 2010

Let the Whining Begin

Richard Ross has spoken, and Tony Lewis of Badger Herald starts the complaints:

... Pixar’s upcoming direction is moving away from [its] winning formula [of original movies]. Including “Monsters Inc. 2,” three of the next four scheduled Pixar features are sequels to past films — the other two being “Toy Story 3” which comes out this June, and a “Cars” sequel scheduled for June 2011. Additionally, “A Bug’s Life” sequel is slated for release in winter 2013. To put this in perspective, it’s been more than ten years since Pixar released its one and only sequel, yet the studio plans on releasing four within the next three years. If you ask me, Pixar is only setting itself up for failure. ...

What Tony doesn't seem to get is that large, American conglomerates aren't in the business of being Florentine art studios in the time of Michelangelo. Disney bought Pixar for reasons.

It wanted its expertise at manufacturing hits.

It wanted Lasseter, Catmull and their platinum track record.

And it wanted its catalogue of blockbusters. (Although, to be perfectly transparent here, it already had the right to sequels for those earlier features, since it was half owner.)

Thus far, the creative engine at Pixar has worked well up in Emeryville, but it's misfired at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Happily, there is still that glittering Pixar library to dip into.

Because for the multi-nationals, its about commerce, cash flow, and maximizing profits. Big entertainment companies strip-mine movie titles the way West Virginia mine operators saw through mountains to get coal. They know they're sitting atop valuable properties, and they're going to drill down to them and exploit them, come hell or Monsters, Inc. IV.

What the hell does Tony think American capitalism is, anyway? Well, I'll tell him. It's about getting big profits and bigger houses into the hands of the Owners by the fastest way possible. Because you can never be too rich.

It's the American Way.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pixar greenlights their own films, not Disney.

This is Pixars decision, and Pixars decision only.

Anonymous said...

Why then would John make that decision(I KNOW why Ed would)?

The face is that Pixar is owned by Disney and JL works for Disney. They pay him. Since John has a large ego and has always been opposed to sequels as a rule, there must be something he personally risks if he put his foot down and said an absolute NO to these upcoming films(A Bug's Life sequel? Really?).

That's assuming he really DOES have a veto power over Iger and Ross. Whatever it is there's something interesting going on there.

robster16 said...

I really don't understand the onslaught of sequels. Pixar has always been hailed for it's creativity, and now we'll only be seeing sequels for the next 3 to 4 years. That is going to damage Pixar's reputation in the end. No matter if the sequels are any good or not.

I for one am not anxious to see sequels for "Cars" or "A Bug's Life". I could see a sequel for "Monsters Inc" and "The Incredibles" working, but other then that, move on and make new exciting movies and tell original stories! Thank you, bye...

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think Lasseter is spread too thin and is making bad decisions.

He seems to get rid of directors instead of working with them, he lets marketing teams make decisions on titles of movies, and now is canceling original films in lieu of sequels (Newt, for example.)

How ironic that Disney has an upcoming lineup of all original films and Pixar has nothing but sequels...

Sotiris said...

Is there really going to be "A Bug's Life" sequel? Or is it just speculation on behalf of the author of that article?

Anonymous said...

Drill baby, drill? I hope not. This is depressing.

Anonymous said...

a bugs life sequel? that i find far-fetched, it being the least successful pixar movie. (i think?)

to me this sounds like the author of the original article needed to invent some fire to fuel his rage.

Anonymous said...

Remember these films are costing in excess of 200 million before advertising. They need to make sure they can bring in the cash or its all over. I trust Pixar will do their very best with the sure short sequels just like Dreamworks has done with their Shrek franchise. Besides if any film deserves a sequel it's the Incredibles.

Anonymous said...

Not a single Pixar movie has reported a budget of 200+ million. Wall-e was the highest at 180mil.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? Whats with all this "If I ran a multi-billion dollar studio I'd never make a sequel" bs? Wake up people and go back to your 9-5's. Families and children are going to welcome these sequels happily. An they will consume them by the millions. They stay happy, we stay employed. So whine on daydreamers with your delusions of grandeur.

Anonymous said...

My kids already want me to prepay for tickets to all of these sequals.

Like the previous commenter pointed out, It's called show BUSINESS. And now that the utopia of the north is controlled by the evil empire, it's time that they sold there souls like everyone else and make more lunch box friendly critters.

Honestly, JL stopped being an artist with CARS, the Ewoks of Pixar...

Locall said...

Well, I loved Cars tbh

As long as the sequels are good films, I'd like to welcome them in my collection. But not all of Pixars films need a sequel, what's the use of Monsters Inc 2? the story ended perfect.
The Incredibles with it's open ending would be perfect for a sequel, it's just that Brad Bird doesn't have the time for it, or just don't want to do it... and that's where my believe in Pixar lies. They won't make a sequel if the original director doesn't want it!!

And so far we've only seen ONE sequel in Pixar's line-up which is on the same level of quality (and some believe it's even better than the first) as the original is...
So let's just wait and see how TS3 turns out.

the anonymous coward said...

i can't wait for TS3. If I love the characters I'm happy to see them come back. Remember, these are Pixar movies being made by Pixar in Pixarville for theatrical release, not horrible DTV cheapquels like Aladdin 2, Cinderella 3 etc.

Anonymous said...

I can see an Incredibles sequel - makes sense; new villains, new battles to fight. But Bug's Life? Good god. That movie was way below par in terms of story. Monsters? It had a perfect ending. As for "Cars 2" ...the original was sooooo boring, and it's undoubtedly the only Pixar film that appealed primarily to only one segment of the audience - little boys (although that targeting wasn't intentional, which tells you something). What's next, more Ratatouille? Remy gets his own cable cooking show? Really, the Disney slate looks pretty blah. Sequels and an ridiculous revival of moth-eaten Muppets. Rich Ross is already showing his ineptitude. Hopefully he'll get tossed before he does too much damage.

Anonymous said...

"Whining" is right:
I've talked about Pixar wanting to sponge the historical black mark of Circle 7--which they don't even want to discuss in public lest they validate one of their now "own" ideas that never should have happened--until I've been blue in the keyboard, and yet the "Pixar is greedy/unoriginal" whines JUST KEEP COMING...
It's something people want to be cynical enough to believe, despite whatever enlightening things like facts can say.

Keep in mind, although much of it is the same "Sequels everywhere" whines columnists make about every studio every summer, there is the media's subconscious desire to see Pixar trip up just once.
No, not for the same reasons as our anti-Lasseter schoolboys or pro-DW Ballonatics...But because of an almost fear and awe of Pixar that dates back to the Great Nemo Panic, and Hollywood's frustration about how "magic" people could make platinum track records out of thin air, and why they haven't done anything wrong yet like all the other mere mortal studios had. Every time Incredibles or Cars came out, there was a mass media movement of "Is this the one, is it, is it, have they flopped yet and turned damaged like all the regular studios?"

We aren't getting sequels because Pixar is "greedy", and what is even more frustrating to the public is that we'll STILL probably get good ones. Nobody in the industry seems to respect Knowing What You're Doing, and never factors it in as a possible reason.

Anonymous said...

Industry insiders despise sequels in general as they belong in the 'johnny-come-lately' category. When you are slaving on an original concept in the trenches, there are very few executives up top, if at all, that are behind you in the deep end. If the movie makes box office, suddenly the 7 figure executives pile on, the actors get locked into back end deals, and guess what TAG members get for all their heavy lifting - a smaller budget and a shorter schedule. To be fair to JK, he drops some cash from his helicopter above the parking garage to the great unwashed, but that is fucking chicken feed compared to what the executives and their Wall Street chums make. Chicken feed. So you just have to excuse the folks that really slave to make this shit work for being less than excited about selling sequel tickets. They hardly see a dime. Oh boy! We get to keep our jobs! Whew! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but am I the only one here that remembers that Disney bought Pixar a few years ago? Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Pixar greenlights their own films, not Disney. This is Pixars decision, and Pixars decision only.
---
Sorry, but am I the only one here that remembers that Disney bought Pixar a few years ago? Or am I missing something?


It's a combination of the two:
When Pixar and Disney were separate combative elements, it was okay for Pixar to go around saying that Eisner Was Evil, and trying to destroy the studio with "fake" sequels out of pure studio-political spite--
But now that it's one happy family, it would be bad form for Lasseter to create a house divided and bring up old resentments in public about the Buzz-recalled C7 TS3 script and those that worked on it.
(And as ISTR, one of the reasons for the delay on C7's movie was that, whether C7 was a "real" studio entity or not, nobody wanted to work on the project--They seemed to have trouble finding a director who wasn't occupied, and privately there may have been feelings that nobody wanted to go down on his resume as the Judas goat or captain of the Titanic.)

The new exec knows he can't spend his time saying bad things about the old exec, but what good COULD you say about the last lunatic days of Eisner's anti-Pixar war?
Better to just rehabilitate it to useful purposes (as with Lasseter's refocusing of Meet the Robinsons and Bolt)--And spin enough PR to convince people it was your own good and useful idea, and not originally someone else's bad and lunatic one from a less peaceful time.

Wonkey the Monkey said...

I'm not an idiot. I'm not surprised that Pixar is making sequel after sequel. After all, "that's the way it is" and "business is about making money" and all that.

But there's a difference between being surprised by a decision and being disappointed in it. This feels like a bad long-term move to many creatives and fans of Pixar's originality, and I say they should feel free to whine. It might not change anything, but it will help them identify each other. If enough people who value originality over repetition can get together, maybe they'll create something good.

Anonymous said...

Someone explain how an animated film can reasonably cost $180 million (in actual expenses as opposed to bloated studio overhead) and I'll explain why suddenly they're investing in sequels.

Anonymous said...

That 180 to 200 is before the Prints and Advertising. Which for large studios is usually the same cost as the film itself, thus the reason to reach 600 million worldwide is a must to be profitable if your film is in these ranges. Because you are getting half of the returns back.

Anonymous said...

One way to explain 180,000,000 is:

500 employees, at 100,000 salary average for 3.6 years

Im sure it's more complicated than that, but thats definitely one way of looking at it.

Elizabeth said...

Interestingly enough, upon nosing around the Internet graveyard on the topic, I found an article from 2006 concerning the shutting down of Disney's C7 studio. (Flashback city, here we go!) It seems that JL and the rest of Pixar, at least then, cared about the quality of the sequels they'd be making:

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/jan/26/business/fi-pixarent26

Hopefully Pixar will keep to their word. Maybe they'll renege and decide to have Pete Doctor work on Monster's Inc 2.

Anonymous said...

Tony's badgering/heralding ;) seems to be on the new news item of "What? They're making a Bugs Life 2 as well?", and....yes:
C7 once threatened to make THAT one, too, although don't recall whether that ever got past the table and talking stage.

And in response to various comments, no, I don't think we're ever going to get Monsters IV, or even "Ratatouille 2: the Second Helping"--Simply for the reason that C7 never threatened to make those movies.
At the moment, Pixar seems to be strictly dealing with the ones that C7 had announced, and dispatching those with a decent burial lest anyone else ever dig up the memos again.
It's purely a matter of cleaning up last traces of the old regime, and some of us accept that there's a lot to clean up.

Anonymous said...

>>500 employees, at $100,000<<

Okay, that gave me a chuckle!!! lol

Anonymous said...

Okay, that gave me a chuckle!!! lol

What would YOU guess the median salary is at Pixar?

Anonymous said...

>>Pixar seems to be strictly dealing with the ones that C7 had announced, and dispatching those with a decent burial lest anyone else ever dig up the memos again. It's purely a matter of cleaning up last traces of the old regime, and some of us accept that there's a lot to clean up.<<

Not just memos. When C7 was working on 'Toy Story 3', 'Finding Nemo 2' and 'Monsters, Inc. 2', (before the purchase of Pixar), they had an amazing, near "shooting draft", of 'Monsters, Inc. 2'. But, after the buyout, all of the projects were shelved as to not interfere with the smooth transition of the Pixar purchase.

I've read the 'Monsters, Inc.' sequel...and I must say, it was amazing, seriously. I might add, I'm not alone in my high praise of the script. Shortly before the project was shut down, it was slipped to a few "high profile" feature animation directors...I've seen their coverage and it borders on ecstatic. Pretty sure that monster's dead and buried, though.

Anonymous said...

If it's Hilgenberg & Muir, heard they've also getting some unexpectedly good early buzz for the latest Tink video--
Could be that, like TS2, Pixar "had" to do a sequel out of necessity, and found unexpectedly good material to draw from. As I wasn't privy, I'll just have to take others' word whether there's any similarity in the final product.

And keep in mind, "Announcing" does not necessarily = "Jumped whole hog into production with dollar-signs in their eyes": While ABL2 has a date announced, many "announced" sequels could simply mean that the C7 scripts were purchased back under the Pixar label for review...Whether or not C7's Bugs2 was shooting quality or not (likely not), at least there's no writers to sue for story credit if Pixar ends up doing their own.

Anonymous said...

I don't think theres going to be a Bug's Life 2. It was an april fools day joke on a pixar fan site.

http://pixarplanet.com/blog/exclusive-a-bugs-life-2-in-2013

Anonymous said...

Pixar made 9 original films in 15 years (and 2 sequels). As long as they make another 9+ original films in the next 15 years (and 10 sequels) then I don't see the problem.

Plus, more movies = more jobs!

Anonymous said...

I think a "Bug's Life" sequal sounds disasterous! In fact, all these sequals (with the exception of TS3) sound unnecessary and very-last-minute. Of course, being Pixar, they have ways to make the ordinary and mundane seem magical and new... however, 4 sequals jammed within a 3-year timespan is not very encouraging.

And where is Incredibles 2??? aka, the only Pixar movie BEGGING for a sequal???

Anonymous said...

sequel, not sequal.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:
"One way to explain 180,000,000 is:
500 employees, at 100,000 salary average for 3.6 years."
"Im sure it's more complicated than that, but thats definitely one way of looking at it."

Anonymous wrote:
"What would YOU guess the median salary is at Pixar?"

Actually, an average cost of $100,000 per employee at Pixar sounds about right. However, not all of that $100,000 goes directly to the employee's salary. There is other overhead associated with having an employee. There are some employees that make well over $100,000, but they are balanced out by others on the chart below ...

Here is some Pixar salary information that was posted on this blog a while back:

http://www.flcdatacenter.com/CaseResults.aspx?DataSource=eh2ZU0EnrRA%3d&DataYear=Uzk4INXcIqI%3d&WorkState=IadniXCrsBU%3d&EIN=HqX6gT3JRBs%3d&EmpName=GZIwsKk0toU%3d

Anonymous said...

Yup. Some make more, some make less, but on average, 100k salary (yes, salary) is about right. When you have senior artists, directors and engineers pulling 250k a year or more, it adds up and balances out the PA's making 30k or entry level animators making 60k.

Id guess a more accurate guide is that salary makes up 60% of the cost of a film, 10% the pay to actors, and the rest to facilities. Just a guess?

Either way, 180 mil can be explained away pretty darned easily.

Anonymous said...

Well, with the stock options I'm sure some employees made a killing before Disney took over.

And from what I've read, the benefits and in-house pixar university training are pretty elaborate.

I've also seen some statistics that suggest story artists make over $150K, so I can't imagine how the budgets are actually under $200K considering most films average 4 years, with some taking 5 or 6 years. And then there's overtime too.

Anonymous said...

I mean you also have to remember that Pixar doesnt have a lot of attrition. Many are still there whom started the company, developed Renderman from the ground up, and on it goes. They have a lot of very highly compensated employees.

Anonymous said...

good thing you guys aren't in charge of budgeting films.

Anonymous said...

What does that even MEAN?

Anonymous said...

Word is Doug Sweetland, who directed that short film Presto is directing Monsters Inc. 2.

Anonymous said...

What the age group of 22-32 year olds doesn’t realize is that Pixar leadership at Disney inherited Eisner’s destructive politically correctness and commercialism at Disney. However, Pixar leadership is trying to revive the last shreds of Walt Disney’s legacy. Because of a combination between the recession, the age group of 22-32 year olds clinging to their politically correct childhoods and lacking shrewd marketing, it’s backfiring them and they are turning out like another parallel of 1930’s MGM Studios. If Disney purest want to revive Walt Disney’s legacy, maybe it’s time that someone who understands Disney history and has the knowledge to come up with better storytelling and better marketing skills make small investments in their garage to establish another Walt Disney Company.

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