Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

June 25, 2012

This is like some alternate reality where Andre the Giant beat Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III.

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Sadly, this is not a film about the first baseball player from Atlanta.

Kim Hollis: Brave, the last of the original concepts from Pixar's legendary original brainstorming session, became the fifth biggest Pixar debut with $66.3 million. What do you think of this result?

David Mumpower: Before we get too excited, I should point out that an argument could be made that Brave sold the fewest tickets since Ratatouille, the least popular Pixar movie of the 2000s. With ticket price inflation so dramatic in the IMAX/3D era, this debut is acceptable rather than exceptional. Keeping this in mind, I still consider the result in that Brave is a very difficult movie to market. It's the rare major studio release that focuses upon the mother/daughter dynamic, and the industry never knows what to do with those. The debut of Brave is 10% higher than Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, which speaks to the level of trust consumers have in the Pixar brand. We had posited that the lackluster quality of Cars 2 may hurt the brand, at least somewhat. This has not proven to be the case. Better yet, as we move forward with Pixar, boys have Cars while girls have Brave. The ancillary revenue stream from toys will not be the same, but the theme parks, hotels and whatnot can capitalize upon this dynamic.


Matthew Huntley: I agree with David's "acceptable rather than exceptional" comment, but I'm still surprised how well this movie opened, simply for the fact the details surrounding the plot are rather nebulous and the marketing for this movie didn't seem nearly as saturated as previous Disney/Pixar ventures, namely Cars 2. Perhaps Disney wanted to sell the movie and spread awareness through the Pixar name alone and chose to save a few bucks on TV spots, billboards, posters, etc. God knows the studio already spent enough on production - the reported budget for Brave is a whopping $185 million, which seems high, and the studio will need this to show strong legs and high international numbers to show a profit. Thankfully, all signs are pointing to yes, and, as David mentioned, the ancillary market should put this project in the black.

As a side note, I wanted to mention how "ordinary" the first half of this movie felt, as it seemed like just another story about a young girl facing persecution from tradition, patriarchy and social injustice. That much is revealed in the trailer, but once the second half gets underway, it really picks up and I sensed the Pixar wonder machine working its magic. I'm curious, but did anyone else have this same reaction? I wonder if this view will either help or hinder the film's overall box-office. When people say any movie "starts out slow, but eventually picks up," is the incentive to still see it in the theater or wait for the home market?

David Mumpower: Matthew, without posting any spoilers (some of the staff hasn't seen the movie yet), what I will say is that the tone shift is similar to WALL-E. That one is a silent film for the first half and then it fundamentally shifts into a fascinating tale of mankind's reliance on machines, a premise that is even stronger today than a few years ago. At the time, there was a lot of discussion about whether WALL-E "fell apart" once actual dialogue occurred. Brave has a similar tonal change. It switches from being a story about avoiding one's fate into an exploration of what a mother wants from her daughter and the reticence the daughter has in accepting this life plan. The methodology through which this is explored is undeniably novel and at times engaging but there is the strange mix of comedy inserted that feels unnatural to me. We commented last year on the "failure" of Kung Fu Panda 2, which is that it isn't very funny. To their credit, DreamWorks Animation demonstrates the storytelling confidence to stay true to this throughout the proceedings. Pixar does not. The usage of the triplets, the chambermaid and particularly the witch is less than what I expect from a Pixar production. I would have preferred less of them and more of the mother/daughter relationship growth. That felt tacked on and largely false to me.

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