LESSON #1: WALT DISNEY DISNEY STUDIOS IS GOING TO MAKE A LOT OF MONEY— I’ve mentioned in this column in the past about how Disney’s multibillion dollar purchases of Marvel Comics and LucasFilm look like bargains. Throw in their cushy partnership of Pixar and Disney is stocked like Tom Brady’s mansion. Their 2017-2019 release calendar (see image below) is absolutely loaded with popular content and a wealth of merchandising tie-ins. Just move Fort Knox to Orlando or Anaheim already.
LESSON #2: DISNEY IS MISSING OUT ON ORIGINAL CONTENT— Looking at that slate of future cash cows, there is one “BUT” or one orange flag. Where is the original content that used to make Disney great? Where are the live-action works like Queen of Katwe? Seventeen of the 21 films on that list are sequels, reboots, or parts of existing franchises. That number goes up to 18-of-22 you include Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin. I get that they sell, but sequels can bomb and even the perfection that is Pixar has been burned by them. Other than Coco and A Wrinkle in Time, I don’t see Disney learning that lesson.
LESSON #3: DISNEY’S D23 FAN CLUB CONVENTION WILL REPLACE THEIR SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON PARTICIPATION— Speaking of making waves and making money, this lesson is more a prediction of something I think will come to pass very soon. With their annual D23 convention, Disney has their own stage to showcase their own products without the competition or sharing that comes from Hall H in San Diego. They also have full control and get every dime that comes from that event. To quote Field of Dreams, “if you build it, he will come.” Disney has the products people want to see and, thanks to their theme parks, they know people will pay to travel across the country to interact with them. They have their own thing with 100% profit. They don’t need San Diego anymore.
LESSON #4: REMOVE THE RACE LABELS FROM MOVIES— A film with predominantly black performers isn’t a “black film.” It’s “a film” the same way you, I, or we would say for a film with white performers. The caveat is when the film is in another language than English. Then you can use the adjective “foreign” or “foreign language” film. To use a race label in 2017 is embarrassing and more than borderline cultural segregation. For a side-by-side comparison on this point, look at this summer’s earlier Rough Night and the new Girls Trip opening this weekend and how they are perceived and ultimately marketed. My favorite line from the linked article from The Outline is “if it feels unfairly reductive to categorize movies as ‘white’ or ‘black,’ that’s because it is.” Start removing these labels from your vernacular.
DON SHANAHAN is a Chicago-based film critic writing on his website Every Movie Has a Lesson. He is also one of the founders and the current directors of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. As an elementary educator by day, Don writes his movie reviews with life lessons in mind, from the serious to the farcical. As a contributor here on Feelin’ Film, he’s going to expand those lessons to current movie news and trends. Find “Every Movie Has a Lesson” on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Creators Media.