So, an article in the New York Times, my beloved paper, is calling into question the profitability of the next release from Disney/Pixar, UP, scheduled for release May 29, 2009. Isn’t Wall Street questioning someone’s profitability, at this point, much like the proverbial pot + kettle questions?
A little backstory; Pixar started in 1979 as the Graphics Group, a part of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm while George Lucas was creating the Star Wars empire – you may have heard of it. As his development continued, he discovered that Pixar was not as valuable to his company’s business plan as he had originally thought. Fortunately for him, and us, Steve Jobs bought the division from George Lucas which has gone on to win critical and commercial success with every film it produces.
The geniuses on Wall Street, yeah you know those guys that have brought us hits like the current economic crisis and the auto industry, feel that Disney/Pixar’s latest is not up to the synergistic franchise options that previous Pixar movies have yielded for the company. Some of them have even downgraded Disney’s stock due to their perception that “young boys will not get excited by the character” despite the fact that Disney’s own focus groups and are showing this to be another hit.
Now these intuitive forces, lacking even a keen grasp on the obvious, on Wall Street make me want to laugh out loud over the sheer ignorance of the discussion. The fact of the matter, however, is that some people still listen to what these experts have to say.
It is not enough to be good and successful for stock traders to think well of your company. Your company must continue to deliver a ridiculous return regardless of the current economic conditions, which these same savants wrought on the public. A hit is not enough to satisfy, it must be a mega-hit; whatver that means despite the fact that these are the same morons that leveraged their companies to the tune of $700 billion at last count.
We seek to make great films first. If a great film gives birth to a franchise, we are the first company to leverage such success. A check-the-boxes approach to creativity is more likely to result in blandness and failure.
Robert Iger, The Big Cheese in the Mouse House
Mr. Iger nails it. We make great films. Back when Walt was making Snow White, it was coined Disney’s Folly and those in the know, knew it spelled the end of the Disney Studios; a position Walt found himself in time after time throughout his career. No matter how wildly successful his movies and business ventures were, there were always the critics sitting on the sidelines saying the latest venture was sure to bring down the mouse’s house.
After the great success of Snow White, these same critics clamored for more dwarfs, but Walt gave them a little wooden head. When they clamored for more of the cricket, he gave them Fantasia, and on and on. His instict was to push the creative boundaries to tell a compelling story that the public would connect with and that is how he built Disney into the company we know and love today. Bob Iger is behind the team that has brought so many modern tales to theaters and I am confident he is right in the newest release, UP.
Wrapping it up
Disney is a film studio, as well as a host of other companies. They make films. Actually, they make lots of films and the pressure from, truly, know-nothings on Wall Street has gotten beyond a little old. Their clairvoyance has failed at virtually every opportunity. For a select few to downgrade the stock of a company over one product would be akin to neglecting to report on the NFL because they have the Detroit Lions or deem Michael Caine a hack since he made Jaws IV, the Revenge. It is short sighted, disingenuous and at some point morally repugnant.
The company has delivered on every promise they have made as a film studio. They create compelling stories and tell them in an exciting and innovative manner that reflects the history and heritage of the Disney brand. Pixar’s films have continued to earn box-office gold with every release and there is no reason to expect otherwise with this summer’s offering.
Oh, and there are those pesky Academy Awards for their creative efforts as well. I have every belief that this film will show just how wrong these experts are, again, and will deliver an uplifting story that we need now. My prediction is that UP will be another hit for the studio and I look forward to seeing it on opening day.