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Disneyland Doubles Down on Star Wars

The opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was either handled correctly or greatly misfired depending on who you talk to. With limits placed on annual passholders, a complicated reservation system that required many guests to stay at the Disneyland Resort hotels, and fears of overcrowding keeping other guests away, Disneyland’s first half of June was light on crowds in the park as a whole. Wait times for HyperSpace Mountain rarely rose above an hour. Other favorites had manageable wait times from 35 to 45 minutes, and many Fantasyland attractions had walk-on wait times of 5 minutes.

For those fans interested in the theming of the world’s first “theme” park, Galaxy’s Edge signaled the return of Tomorrowland to its original concept: exploring the world of tomorrow. Instead, Disney has kept its Star Wars Tomorrowland attractions open and is using them to hype Galaxy’s Edge. Instead of offering 51 different variations, Star Tours ends in Batuu, the setting for Galaxy’s Edge. As mentioned above, Space Mountain is in its Star Wars garb. Star Wars Launch Bay features meet and greets with the Star Wars characters.

All of this would be fine if there were an indication that Disneyland would move it to Galaxy’s Edge when the Star Wars Land is completed. However, the Disney Company and its development of Epcot attractions is showing that it no longer cares about the educational parts of its parks or the exploration of the future. Instead, it will rely on its pop culture aspects to draw in the crowds for entertainment. It makes sense for the company to want to use its acquired billion-dollar IP, even if it doesn’t pay respect to the educational and innovative history of the business.

Fans of the Tomorrowland concept may have to go back to their memories, old YouTube videos and TV Specials and Yesterland to experience a version of Tomorrowland that made sense within its dated context. Unless we all start a gofundme campaign and build our own Tomorrowland project. Leave a comment about what you would like to see in Tomorrowland.

For more Disney Company analysis, get “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” For more on Disneyland’s history and how it relates to creativity principles, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For a tour of the Haunted Mansion, its history and how it relates to creativity principles get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” (also available at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim).

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Endgame Spoilers: Playing with the F-Word ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trolls the Trolls

This article contains spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame.” If you haven’t seen it, yet, seriously? You haven’t seen it, yet? Okay, well, since things on the Internet are forever and this could be read sometime in the future, if you haven’t seen it yet, book mark this page and come back to it. If you have seen “Endgame” then continue on after the trailer.

There is a certain segment of the movie going (and general) population whose trigger word is “feminism.” They came out against “Ghostbusters,” so hard that Leslie Jones had to delete her Twitter account. They’ve joined forces to harass “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” star Kelly Marie Tran into leaving social media.

The problem is so bad that when Rotten Tomatoes recognized campaigns to sink “Captain Marvel” “Black Panther” and “Star Wars: Episode IX” through bad reviews before the films were released, it changed its policy for reviewing films and only allowed people to review films after they had been released. That same anti-“Captain Marvel” campaign was addressed by “Shazam!” star Zachary Levi in a class act social media post about how those actions actually hurt fandoms. People can like both films.

All of this plays into one amazing scene in “Avengers: Endgame.” All of the women on the battlefield during the confrontation with Thanos and his army come together on the screen to relieve Spider-Man and keep the gauntlet away from Thanos. It’s a glorious scene and sequence.

My first thought was “OMG! They did it. I can’t believe they did it. It’s amazing.” My second thought was “OMG! They did it. I can’t believe they did it. The trolls are going to be talking about this scene and deriding the movie because of it.” And they did come out to comment, which is unfortunate because one of the comments was a ridiculous “It’s not even realistic that all these women could get together on a chaotic battlefield to make this scene work.”

Let’s just take this comment at face value. “It’s not realistic…” This battle is literally about one thing: Getting the Infinity Gauntlet and keeping it away from Thanos. That’s all this battle is about. It’s not about killing the army on Thanos’ side. It’s not about counting bodies. It’s not about anything but Thanos and the gauntlet. Every eye in that battle, especially on the Avengers side, should be on that gauntlet and where it is at all times. Yes, you don’t want to get taken out by one of Thanos’ minions, but you also don’t want to get taken out by a second snap. So, when the women heard Spider-Man was in trouble, they all gathered to protect the him and the gauntlet.

Now, let’s move on to the more important point: “It’s not realistic…” We are talking about a movie where a rage monster merged with a genius and became a green, hulking scientist with little penchant for smashing things. This movie also featured an Asgardian getting a beer belly, half the beings in the universe having been snapped away, and stones holding sway over space, time, souls, reality, mind and power. Women were riding winged horses. Aliens were coming out of there spaceships. A man had grown to the size of skyscraper. A majority of the main cast had traveled through time, and many of the rest of them were resurrected after being dead for five years. Yes, it’s not realistic. It’s a comic book movie.

And let’s examine one more point: Comic team-ups are the best, especially for those who are less interested in comics. As a kid, I didn’t have a lot of money for comic books, so when I did buy them, they were either really cheap and secondhand or they were a comic that included a team-up. The return of almost the entire 11 years of Marvel superheroes at the beginning of the battle was powerful. Having the women team-up in the middle of the battle was also powerful. It was that moment of awe and wonder. They were both fan services, just for different types of fans.

For anyone who would criticize this scene, it’s important to realize what the scene really is and why you’re reacting to it negatively. Chances are, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find that you don’t like its implications of change at a cultural level. It does represent a shift in the status quo, and there’s no going back, no matter how much you fight, whine, complain and troll. What you should realize, though, is this shift is going to make it possible for your favorite comic book characters to survive. As more people enjoy the movies, the profits will funnel to the Marvel division of Disney and they will keep the comic books themselves on the shelves.

If you love Marvel comics, you should be grateful for everyone who saw “Avengers: Endgame” regardless of their politics and the fan service paid to them. Instead of wasting your time trolling, step into the light of a new day and find your power for positive transformation – like Bruce Banner and the Hulk. Maybe, you’ll even realize that scene wasn’t a fan service, it was a way to troll the trolls.

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Marvel Fans Shouldn’t Care about Final Box Office of ‘Avengers: Endgame’

Patch Penguin and the Avengers

The biggest debate in the movie community is where will “Avengers: Endgame” end its box office run. Will it finish in the top spot worldwide and domestic, or will it finish second? Some movie writers have gone so far to call out the manipulations of misleading articles saying that the box office for “Avengers: Endgame” could never reach the domestic gross of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” or the global box office of “Avatar” if the numbers are adjusted for inflation. Comparing today’s box office with 2015’s take for “Force Awakens” and 2009’s gross for “Avatar” is a bit of mathematical chicanery according to critics. “Endgame” is only ranked #36 domestically when adjusted for inflation.

However, whatever ranking “Endgame” finishes with shouldn’t matter. In fact, true Marvel and movie fans shouldn’t be concerned about the final numbers. These movies are so huge, even if they don’t look that great when compared to the adjusted for inflation numbers, because they are currently making money hand over fist for the company that owns their creative rights: Disney. People who love Marvel films have nothing to worry about, even if one of the films underperforms. Instead, Marvel fans need to worry about the other movie properties that aren’t going to rake in the types of numbers these tentpoles do. Those are the films that Marvel fans should rally behind.

I’m not talking DC films or the other big budget releases that may fall into the Box Office hole never to recover (i.e. “Solo”). I’m talking about genuinely small budget films that are amazing. Films like “Hidden Figures,” “BlackKklansman,” or “The Imitation Game” have something to say about our world and are great entertainment to boot. They may get recognition at the Awards ceremonies, but they need box office recognition in order for movie goers to see more films like them on the big screen.

Rather than seeing the next big tent pole five times, or even three time, put that third movie ticket behind a film that isn’t getting much love from the advertisers or from the movie industry. Check out an indie film, a documentary, or even a film that was just overlooked because of the hype behind the big tent pole films. This will help bring more diversity to the movie screen. Creatives will have more opportunity to step away from the ordinary that big budgets have become, and you’ll have a richer life experience. Every time, you see a film, you vote with your dollars showing what you want more of. Don’t let superheroes be the only films we have an opportunity to watch.

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Who Has the Better Fans: Marvel or Star Wars?

As “Avengers: Endgame” prepares to fall short of the domestic box office total of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” we should ask who has the better movie fans. Are Star Wars fans better than Marvel fans?

In the top 20 domestic movie box offices of all-time, there are five movies form the Star Wars franchise: “Star Wars” at 16, “Star Wars: Episode 1 – the Phantom Menace” at 15, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” at 12, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” at 9, and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on top of the domestic box office with almost $1 billion. The total take for these films is about $3.02 billion.

Marvel also has five films in the top 20: “Avengers: Age of Ultron” at 17, “Marvel’s The Avengers” at 8, “Avengers: Endgame” at 7 (still in theaters and projected to grab the number two spot), “Avengers: Infinity War” at 3, and “Black Panther” at 2. These films have totaled about $3.1 billion. Based on these two metrics, Marvel movie fans have the edge over Star Wars fans. (“Captain Marvel” is still in theaters and could make it to the top 20 if it receives a continued “Endgame” boost. It stands at 24 and is about $14 million away from passing “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” and taking the 20th spot.)

Until “Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker,” Marvel fans will continue to have the edge, especially with “Endgame” making it to the second spot, giving Marvel three films in the top 5 for domestic gross. (In case you’re counting, when “Endgame” passes “Titanic,” Disney properties will own the top 5 movies of all time for unadjusted domestic box office.)

Marvel fans can make a huge statement with several films still on the docket before the next Star Wars release. The biggest statement would come if they can propel “Endgame” to the top spot and get “Captain Marvel” into the top 20. “X-Men: The Dark Phoenix,” “Men in Black International,” “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” “The New Mutants,” and “Kingsman 3” are all opportunities for Marvel fans to exercise their power as the best fan base by voting at the box office.

With the crash and burn of “Solo,” Disney has taken a step back from its Star Wars movie properties. However, in real life, Star Wars is the only property with its own land: “Galaxy’s Edge.” While Marvel characters have taken over Hollywood Studios at Disney California Adventure, it isn’t Marvel’s land; the heroes are scheduled to be moved into the former Bug’s Land in 2020.  This seems like a tie. So, what do you think?

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Speakers’ Club April 27, 2019: Star Wars

Darth Vader

Rules:

Word Crimes:

When is Star Wars day?

Moosebutter John Williams Medley:

Long time ago, far, far away
Long time ago, far, far away
Kiss a Wookiee, kick a droid
Fly the Falcon through an asteroid
‘Til the princess is annoyed
This is spaceships
It’s monsters
It’s *Star Wars*
We love it!
Come and help me, Obi-Wan
X-Wing fighter and a blaster gun
Dance with ewoks, oh, what fun!
This is spaceships
It’s monsters
It’s *Star Wars*
We love it!
 
Get in there you big, furry oaf
I couldn’t care less what you smell!
I take orders from only me
Maybe you’d like it back in your cell
Your highness, your worshipfulness
Your highness, your worshipfulness!
No one cares if you upset a droid (Nobody cares if you upset a droid)
That’s because droids don’t tear your arms out of socket (Nobody cares)
I suggest a new strategy: let the Wookiee win
That’s because nobody cares if you upset a droid
 
Now we listen to Luke whining
One more season, one more season, one more season
I was gonna go to Tosche
Station for power converters
Now I guess I’m going nowhere
It just isn’t fair!
 
Wookiee!
(Wookiee noises)
Wookiee!
(Wookie noises)
Wookiee! Wookiee!
Wookiee! Wookiee!
Someone move this walking carpet
Someone move this walking carpet
(Woo-kiee, Woo-kiee)
Someone move this walking carpet
Someone move this walking carpet
(Woo-kiee, Woo-kiee)
Kiss your brother, kiss your brother
Princess Leia!
Well, I guess you don’t know anything about women
(Kissing noise)
(Who’s your daddy? Who’s your daddy?)
Who’s your daddy? Who’s your daddy?
 
Luke, I’m your father
(That’s not true!)
It is useless to resist
(My hand!)
Come with me, my son
We will rule
(I’ll never join you!)
Search your feelings, it is true
So, you have a twin sister who
Obi-Wan was wise to hide
(Is that Leia?)
If you will not turn
Then perhaps she will
Give in to your hate
You are mine
Long, long, long time ago
Far, far, far, far away
Long, long, long time ago
Far, far, far away
Kiss a Wookiee, (kiss a Wookiee)
Kick a droid, (kick a droid)
Fly the Falcon (fly the Falcon)
Through an asteroid!
‘Til the princess (’til the princess)
Is annoyed (she’s annoyed!)
This is spaceships
It’s monsters
It’s *Star Wars*
We love it, it’s true!
(Episode III)
Coming to you!
(2005)
So let’s go (go, go, go to the movies)
Stand in line (buy, buy, buy me some popcorn)
Cause it’s al- (please, I like extra butter)
-most the time! (Join the Dark Side!)
May the Force be with you all!
(John Williams is the man!)

Moosebutter “Star Wars (John Williams Is the Man)”

Tony Dyson on creativity:

What did “Star Wars” change?

Merchandising

Summer blockbuster

Science fiction at the movies: “The Black Hole”

What does it have to do with “Star Trek?”

Other ‘Star Wars links: https://penguinate.weebly.com/star-wars-stories-and-links.html

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Disney Fox Merger Sounds Death Knell for Creatives

Book cover for Penguinate! The Disney Company

The official merger of Disney and Fox has sounded the death knell for creativity. While scooping up Fox’s assets is the right business decision for Disney, it is one that writers, movie makers, ad executives and other creatives should fear.

With Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Fox, and its own studio, Disney will own an estimated 40% of the box office. The merger allows Disney to exercise economies of scale and negotiating power not seen this side of Wal-Mart.

Writers already face enormous competition to get their stories read. Every indie writer out there who wants to see their stories on the big screen has just had their chances reduced by one major player. Making a living as a writer is difficult enough without having Fox’s ability to seek out new storylines withdrawn from the market.

Looking at Disney’s upcoming movie slate, Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King are remakes of animated films. Dumbo will have to lose the crows. Will Smith will have to do his own genie thing because it would be ridiculous to copy Robin Williams. Other than that, these three films look to be Xerox photo copies of their animated counterparts. We’ve already seen them and we’re going to see them again.

The sequels list is longer. With Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, Spider-Man: Far from Home (though not as far as you might think), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Frozen II and Star Wars Episode IX on the slate, there is hardly any room for an original idea. While sequels can bring something new to franchise, they don’t require as much risk taking or creativity to make.

Which leaves Disney with Artemis Fowl and with DisneyNature’s Penguins as its only non-sequel, non-remake movies coming out in 2019. With 11 films left on the slate, Disney has one new story that will probably flop and a documentary to offer. Take a moment to ponder that.

Even if Disney remains true to form and let’s Fox operate the way Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm have, Fox was depending on its Avatar sequels and X-Men films to keep it in the black. Films Disney was already on board with.

Creativity will have to come from film makers with smaller budgets who, despite lacking marketing savvy and budgets for said marketing, have a film hit big. Like writers, these smaller film makers will have to find a way to cut through the noise of modern media and its giants to harness the power of going viral, and they’re going to need you to help. It’s going to be an uphill battle for creative people to get out there, but it always has been.

(Full disclosure: I own Disney Stock ad will go see all the Disney/Marvel/Pixar branded movies they make.)

For more thoughts on the Disney company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” For more on creativity, buy “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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‘Star Wars’ R2D2 builder Tony Dyson on Creativity

I was lucky enough to be invited as a journalist to Malta Comic Con 2015, where I met the man who built R2D2 for the Star Wars films of the 1970s and 1980s. Tony Dyson was a personable, friendly man who invited me outside to interview him about creativity. For a Star Wars fan writing a dissertation on creativity, this is about as good as it gets. Dyson summed up his advice for people who want to be more creative in two words – “Play more.”

Check out my interview with Tony Dyson:

Now go forth and play.

Want to know more about creativity? Get a copy of “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Purchase “Penguinate: Essays and Short Stories: Improve your creativity for a better life and world.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

Read more about Malta Comic Con 2015 at our archive site.

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‘The Lion King’ proves emotions and cash rule Disney’s box office decisions

On a visceral level, the new “Lion King” trailer strikes all the right notes. The sunrise, the building crescendo, James Earl Jones, the beginning of the stampede scene as James Earl Jones talks about his demise, and the African Call that is the original movie’s signature. It inspires goosebumps and causes the heart to speed up. Remember! Let’s face it. People are going to see this remake, and they are going to love it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with the idea of it.

Same Old Stories

Disney has gone into their film vault, dragging their beloved animated classics into the light and exposing them to live-action remake status. Some may point to 1996’s “101 Dalmatians” with Glenn Close as the first successful live action remake. It was successful enough, and possibly sold enough toys, to inspire a sequel.  However, 2014’s “Maleficent,” with Angelina Jolie who was born for the role, started the current era of live action adaptations. It was followed by “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and Christopher Robin.” With one movie released every year. “Dumbo,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King” and “Lady and the Tramp” are on the docket for 2019.

That’s four live action adaptations in a single year. Those aren’t new stories; they are recycled stories that required less creativity to make and provided more stability for the financial side of the ledger. People may say they want new stories; they don’t. They want properties they know they are going to enjoy, especially when they are spending $15 a ticket. If people wanted new stories, “Kubo and the Two Strings” would’ve been a box office hit. And from the looks of it, “The Lion King” is going to give the audience what it wants. The trailer shots are ripped straight from the animated film. This isn’t a remake or remodeling; it’s a straight up rerelease.

Sequels and Remakes

The Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars film factories are releasing, or distributing, 12 films next year, including “Glass,” a sequel to “Unbreakable,” and “Split.” Of those 12, only “Artemis Fowl,” the DisneyNature release “Penguins” and, possibly, the Marvel production “Captain Marvel” are not sequels or remakes. Giving “Captain Marvel” the benefit of the doubt, the same universe doesn’t necessarily make a sequel or prequel in this case, only 25 percent of Disney’s 2019 releases are new stories. That’s bad for writers and people who are creating new ideas. And let’s face it, “Penguins” is more like a public service, which I’m totally going to go see because, uh, PENGUINS! (Shameless plug: Come on, my website is “penguinate”and my wife makes stuffed penguins, which you should buy!)

Not Live Action

“The Lion King” is being lumped in with Disney’s live action remakes of animated films, but it isn’t live action. No matter how beautifully rendered, the characters are computer animated. At least in “The Jungle Book,” Mowgli was a real actor on screen. (Props to Neel Sethi who had to act against the green screen.) “The Lion King” is computer generated images that, at least as far as the trailer is concerned, will match the animated classic in every way. Fire up the computer and redo every Disney Classic that way; maybe, it will allow Disney to extend the copyright, again, of “Steamboat Willie” before it expires in 2024.

Disneyland and Mary Poppins

There’s a story that at the end of the premier of the original “Mary Poppins,” P.L. Travers had some suggestions for making the film better. Walt looked at her and said something to the effect of “Pamela, that ship has sailed.”

One of the many reasons that Disneyland exists is because Walt wanted something he could change. Once the movie was done, there wasn’t any going back and redoing it to make it better. That ship has sailed, except now, The Walt Disney Company is remaking the films. They just aren’t making them necessarily better.

Where’s the Creativity?

The original “Lion King” made just under $1 billion dollars worldwide in 1997. It was the highest grossing animated film of all time (not adjusted for inflation) and remained at the top of the list until “Toy Story 3.” The new “Lion King” might not live up to the original, even if Disney gets it right – whatever that may mean. Maybe only die-hard fans will see it a second time, but judging by the Twitterverse… God, Disney’s going to make some cash, and that’s bad for creativity. (See Pixar.) Why take a risk when you can take a known commodity, change its medium slightly, and make a boatload of money?

Want More Creativity?

If you want more creativity in the world, I urge you to find several independent authors and artists and support them. Give up one movie this year and use that money to pledge $1 a month to someone on Patreon. Go to a comic convention and find an artist in Artist Alley; buy something from them. I’d love for it to be me. Mostly, I’d love for us to get more original stories out there. We all have a story to tell, but they need to be supported financially in order to get heard.