Monday Morning Quarterback Part II
July 23, 2014
Kim Hollis: Planes: Fire and Rescue, the sequel to Disney's cash grab from a year ago, earned $17.5 million this weekend. What do you think of this result?
Matthew Huntley: If this movie wasn't tied in with a whole slew of merchandise, I'd call this figure a disappointment (given the movie's surprisingly high $50 million production budget), but as it is, it will open up a large enough window of awareness that the studio will still turn a hefty profit. This is good news for Disney, but likely not for audiences, as it means we'll be subjected to yet another sophomoric animated movie from the Mouse House, perhaps even another Planes sequel. Granted, I haven't seen any of these movies, but judging by their trailers, they're full of lame jokes, puns and predictable stories. I'm speculating when I say this, but it's a shame this is the only offering out there for kids right now.
Edwin Davies: As with The Purge: Anarchy, I think that this result is not as bad as it could have been considering that the first film wasn't a huge hit or particularly well-liked. That it was only a few million short of the first one's debut probably says more about the lack of anything for family audiences than it does any goodwill for the first film, and will probably allow it to chug along nicely for the next month or so. But, as with Planes and the Cars films, the box office is far less important than the merchandizing, the profits from which will dwarf whatever Planes: Fire and Rescue makes in its theatrical run.
Jay Barney: I was a strong defender of Disney's decision to throw Planes into the summer box office slate last year, and I don't mind them doing it this year either. That said I probably won't take my son to see Planes: Fire and Rescue, but if you look at the landscape, there is actually a chance that Fire and Rescue could repeat 2013's success. Yes, the opening is a little lower and the budget was about the same, but Disney has placed this film very well against competition. I've always thought one of the reasons Planes did so well last year was its place in the schedule. It was released on August 2nd and literally didn't have any direct competition until Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs in late September. Fire and Rescue appears to be quite lucky, the kids schedule is looking pretty devoid of screen time for the rest of July and August. Fire and Rescue could get attention by the fact it is the only kids option out there.
Reagen Sulewski: The biggest thing I worry about with this result is the overall reputation of Disney as it relates to quality. Disney can absorb a few body blows in terms of quality like this, but the biggest problem they could have is in diluting their brand to the point of just being another Fox or Sony Animation. This whole sub-franchise business has been penny-wise, pound-foolish, in my opinion, and they'd be wise to call it a day after this.
David Mumpower: To Reagen's point, even though this is a Disney release rather than a Pixar one, my concern is simple. I doubt that a lot of people understand the discussion. The brand that becomes damaged by such low quality knock-offs is that all of the trust built by Pixar over a 15 year period feels like it has been varnished in just a couple of years.
Pixar reached a crescendo with Toy Story 3, their best performer, and then there was an immediate downward spiral with Cars 2. Brave was okay but not up to their usual standards to the point that Frozen was clearly the film Brave wanted to be. Mountains University is a gentle tale that feels like an attempt to remind people to keep buying Mike and Sully toys rather than a story that needed to be told. And the two Planes offerings lack subtlety to the point that they should have MSRP price tags on each plane. Pixar loved their brand and were protective of it.
Disney is mistreating a wonderful property in order to pad their bottom line. I expect better from them than this. Planes: Fire and Rescue will earn money via toy sales and international revenue. Those gains are ill-gotten, though.