If you haven't already, read part one before you continuing reading this part.
Now that I've disscused the films and how they well each of them did, it's time to look at what made the 2D films (The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh) underperform and why the CG films (Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph) were big hits.
Let's start with Princess and the Frog, the film that was supposed to bring forth a new age of 2D animation and Disney animation in general. Like I said in part one, the film did very well at the box-office with an impressive $267 million gross. Certainly better than some of the 2D features of the 2000s, but not as well as some of the films of the 90s renaissance. There are many reasons why Princess just reel in as much dough as Disney was hoping. One of them being its December 2009 release date; it was pitted against big blockbusters like Avatar, Sherlock Holmes and *guh* Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 (I refuse to call it The Squeakquel because that just sounds stupid). Another reason was its marketing campaign. The trailers had a very nostalgic vibe to them which, while working to an extent, turned some people off. Many claimed that Princess was just some hack-attempt as capturing the glory days of the 90s; and so many people ditched the film all because of the trailers. The problem with them is that they never highlighted some of the more unique aspects of the film. I'm not saying they should spoil the whole movie, but they should've given people a better reason to see the film other than nostalgia.
The third why the film let Disney down was that maybe another fairy-tale musical was not the thing to kick off a new golden age. While Princess and the Frog was a very good film, nothing about it screamed "innovative." When The Little Mermaid came out, people had never seen something like that before. It may have been another princess-centric, fairy-tale musical like some of Walt's early films, but Mermaid had a new and interesting take on the ol' formula. The Princess and the Frog seemed kind of stuck in the renaissance era, though it did improve on areas where some of those films were kind of lacking (a better use of comic relief for one). However, despite those improvements, the film could've been made in the 90s and felt right at home there. There is a fourth reason, but I'll save that for another blog. All of the reasons I mentioned had nothing to do with the film being hand-drawn (nor gender and/or racial discrimination), but rather a poor choice of release date, bland marketing, and not much innovation was what hurt the film. It may not have bombed (again, it made over $250 million), but if Disney really wanted another Beauty and the Beast, they should've stepped it up a bit. If something more unique like Wreck-It Ralph were 2D and released in December 2009 instead of Princess and the Frog, maybe we would've gotten our big 2D revival. But Princess still could've done better if it had swapped release dates with A Christmas Carol, released November 6th, 2009 (Princess was released on December 11th, 2009).
I know Tangled also tried to do the same thing Princess did and made over half a billion dollars. But Tangled was marketed as a fast-paced, wild comedy similar to a Dreamworks movie from the early 2000s. It didn't look like a sincere attempt to recapture the golden age of Disney animation, but rather it looked more like a satire of one. The fact that the film did have the word "princess" in the title and the film's large focus on the male lead also helped it. Not to mention it faced little to no real competition thanks to its late-November 2010 release. While this sort of superficial marketing made some of us groan, it worked incredibly well. It looked more unique and appealing to a wider audience, hence why it was a big hit.
But there's Winnie the Pooh: 2011 Variety. Because this film is based on one of Disney's biggest franchises, you'd think this film would do well right? Not if it's pitted against Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2! Seriously, what was Disney thinking when they did that? I know that Pooh had the July 15th spot first, but they should've moved it to a nice August or September release when Potter came in. More marketing campaign would've worked too; the few ads they put out were well done, there just needed to be more of them. I'm not saying that Pooh would've been a box-office behemoth, but it defintley had potential to make some good business. With more marketing and a nice late-Summer or early-Fall release, I could see this film making at least around $100 million.
See, these movies could've been huge money-makers. They were just handled poorly with bland or scarce marketing and poor release date choices. John Lasseter has no real control over how the movies are marketed, and we still have some of Michael Eisner's lackeys still power with the mentality that "2D animation is dead." That belief is load of schlock! 2D animation is not dead and it can be saved. But how? Well, find out in the next part.