So about that happiest place on Earth…
Many years ago I was a neutrally avid Disney fan, like most, though I was not a stout supporter, I was a supporter. But that started changing ever so slowly.
Of late I’d like to say it’s a cute and fun distraction and I am the kind of fan that does not buy into calling the minimum wage employees dressed up as characters, as cast. They are employees, not actors. But that’s just me.
It started when I noticed a friend of mine’s Disney Credit Card… and that it had a 25% APR attached to it.
That had me wondering how this “happy” place could do that to its fans. Then again, maybe that’s why its so happy, with all the bucks they rake in from various ventures, including its credit cards.
I have been a little leery since then, but it wasn’t such a big deal that it converted me into any kind of anti-Disney fan. Just a prudent consumer.
Then they bought out Marvel and later, LucasFilm. (Aren’t they releasing some new Star Wars thing soon?)
Then I got to see how Disney works to help market their content right after they bought Marvel.
When Iron Man 3 came out, Disney slathered up the world with trailers and such, to the point that they were giving away what many would consider to be story spoilers to the then upcoming film.
When I counted, it turned out that I was able to see the Disney marketing machine hard at work because once they owned Marvel, the total number of marketing video trailers, clips, behind-the-scenes and other such video marketing schemes more than doubled in number from any previous Iron Man movie.
I learned my lesson about dodging the “TV clips” about any movie I want to see that Disney has a controlling factor over. And that is not said from an angry place, but just as a new awareness of their marketing tools.
And that new awareness is serving me well but in the last three weeks, so many new TV clips have been coming out for Star Wars The Force Awakens, with new content in almost every one, that I’m pleased I learned my lesson with the Iron Man film franchise.
But then there’s the wily side of Disney marketing. Something that reminded me of it, during a Howard Stern interview with Quentin Tarantino.
What Tarantino told Stern in his interview this morning, was that his new movie, The Hateful Eight, was slated to play in LA’s Cinerama Dome, owned by ArcLight Cinemas, starting on Christmas day.
But he said that his movie was pushed out so that Force Awakens will be playing there throughout the holidays instead.
Per Tarantino, he said he had an agreement with ArcLight, but ArcLight was asked by Disney to replace his film with theirs. And if ArcLight did not swap out movies at the Cinerama Dome and play Star Wars, they would pull The Force Awakens from all their theaters.
Stern went on to make a plea to Disney CEO Bob Iger,
“Listen Bob … I don’t give a shit about this theater. Quentin’s a weirdo — sorry Quentin … They’ve got the stupid 70mm – they got all that shit that he cares about. He just wants to show his goddamn movie there. You’re sitting on top of the world. You’ve got Star Wars. What, do you need this?”
Tarantino is pissed.
But this reminded me of when Disney decided to renegotiate cut percentages with movie theaters… just before Iron Man 3 opened in theaters, Disney wanted a larger cut in theater revenue ticket sales.
Normally, when a movie ticket is purchased, 50% of that money goes to the studio while 50% goes to the theater in the early weeks of a release. As time goes on, the studio’s percentage declines.
The average cut is usually around 50% over a theatrical run. In this case, Disney wanted 65% of the ticket sales.
When AMC and Regal Theaters first refused to bow, it started to look like IM3 was not going to be released under their roofs.
But things worked out, however they might have, and well, to be honest, with Disney now owning some of the biggest franchises in history, how can you buck that system?
More recently Disney tried enforcing alterations to how theaters charged for tickets for Avengers: Age of Ultron, in one case, the minimum any theater could charge for an Avengers movie ticket.
All this, from the happiest place on earth.
Then again, to be fair, this is not an uncommon practice from distributors who know they have a hot commodity coming to theaters. But for me, initially, when I thought it was all about the consumer and to only find out that it was about the Disney bottom line, it becomes disappointing to a degree.
And even though Disney knows it will have a box-office record breaking hit on their hands with Force Awakens, they’re not sitting on their laurels, but rather, getting more aggressive in marketing their new property and looking to squeeze every penny they can out of it.
They’re not leaving anything to chance. In fact, if I did not know better, I’d think they want to be on top of the box-office record of number of tickets sold, which has a much different landscape than earnings in dollars does.
So yes, it’s a bit disappointing, or at least a reminder that in the end this is just a business designed to make you feel entertained while dropping billions into their coffers.
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