Bolt Doesn’t Strike Lightning

Bolt

I’m no expert on the box office, but when Disney’s CG “blockbuster” Bolt opens with less than the studio’s throwaway live-action film Beverly Hills Chihuahua, there’s going to be some eyebrows raised. Here’s some analysis of Bolt‘s tepid opening from BoxOfficeGuru.com:

Disney’s big offering for the holiday season Bolt opened in third with sales that were a bit disappointing. The PG-rated animated flick took in an estimated $27M from 3,651 theaters for a $7,395 average. The debut came in well below what other November toons in recent years have opened to – 2005′s Chicken Little,2006′s Happy Feet, and last year’s Bee Movie all bowed in the $38-42M range. Like Bolt, these films were non-sequels and did not have Thanksgiving to provide a boost. The canine flick even screened in 980 3D theaters and featured the voices of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus, but that did little to spark excitement. However with kids getting out of school for the holiday this week, sales could stay strong in the days ahead giving the Mouse House a respectable ten-day start.


  • http://www.animationinsider.net Cody S.

    Did any of those other November releases have the kind of crowded market Bolt has though? Twilight was a shoe-in winner for the weekend’s crowds; and Madagascar is still hanging on to a chunk of that demo too.

    It’s a shame it didn’t do better – it really is a solid film (even if the story has been done time and time again); here to hoping it has some mighty strong legs.

  • http://www.AnotherMovieGuide.com Rick Boyer

    I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

  • http://www.chumwad.com Derek M

    That’s because it had no visual hook. It just looked generic.

    Now American Dog, that would have stood out. It had some personality and every kid in America would have a cat with an eye-patch doll by now.

  • tom

    I think it will do really well this week. It’s a better film than Twilight, from what I can divine from the reviews, and Twilight suffered an enormous drop off over the weekend of over 40 percent (see link).

    http://www.slashfilm.com/2008/11/23/box-office-twilight-dips-41-saturday-for-705m-weekend-quantum-edges-bolt-for-2/

    Twilight is riding a wave of undeserved hype so the numbers are pretty inflated. Bolt is the only kids’ movie opening for the holiday week, and it’s good, so I’d expect the numbers to rise, and I expect Twilight to struggle a bit and possibly sink. James Bond can’t be blamed, since that demographic means nothing to Bolt.

    Fingers crossed!

  • phil

    Would everyone mind shutting the “F” up about American Dog? This post is about the current released film, Bolt. Not about a movie that never was even made.

    It’s easy to get excited over production art of un-made films. Everything in production art always looks cool, it’s supposed to. It unleashes YOUR imagination and you run off imagining your own story.

    But small ideas, even if they are good (cat with an eye patch, ahah), need to be let go if they do not work with the bigger picture.

    In an art of book, when you see preliminary drawings of characters, some are more unique or stylish than the finals, but you understand when you see the final, why they landed on it. It is easier on the eyes to look at for an hour and a half.

    So please, we are all loved lilo and stich, but we must understand that we have no idea what was going on behind the doors of “A-dog” and you have to trust John L. and his brain trust’s decisions. I know I would, if I had a movie.

    Thanks for letting me rant…

    Oh yeah and I liked the movie

    • Hannah Teare

      Actually Bolt is American Dog.

  • nottheman

    Twilight’s unexpected huge numbers did overly crowd the weekend for Bolt. It should rebound nicely over Thanksgiving and I think it can settle in an “acceptable” range of just north of 100 million for its domestic run. That’s not great numbers for Disney, but hopefully the execs see Bolt less as a failure and more as a start for the rehabilitation of Disney Feature Animation.

  • Mighty Mouse

    All I know is that what Chris Sanders did and does is unique and different and John L. decided it wasn’t good enough so he’s to blame for Bolt’s success or lack of it.

    I’ve had with the putting John L. on the pedestal; it’s not as if the guys shit don’t stink like anyone else’s, I know the guy has had some successes but what’s he done lately to deserve the untouchable status. I say nothing!!!

  • http://blog.ninapaley.com Nina Paley

    Isn’t opening weekend $$ based on advertising and hype? When a film first comes out, that’s all attendance is based on – it hasn’t yet had time to develop a word-of-mouth reputation. Opening weekend numbers have nothing to do with the quality or longevity of a film, so why do we care so much about them? My question is only semi-rhetorical.

  • Nic Kramer

    All I know is that what Chris Sanders did and does is unique and different and John L. decided it wasn’t good enough so he’s to blame for Bolt’s success or lack of it.
    I’ve had with the putting John L. on the pedestal; it’s not as if the guys shit don’t stink like anyone else’s, I know the guy has had some successes but what’s he done lately to deserve the untouchable status. I say nothing!!!

    I’m pretty sure if Chris Sander version happened, we might’ve ended up with a similar problem with Mark Dindal (The Emperor’s New Groove) and “Chicken Little”. Has you ever thought of that?

  • Mighty Mouse

    You’re not pretty sure – You’re guessing. There’s a difference.

  • Killroy McFate

    Lilo and Stitch=35 million opening weekend.

    Bolt=27 million opening weekend.

    I’m just sayin’…

  • Seni Oyewole

    Not surprised. Should have kept Sanders!

  • http://crinkum-crankum.blogspot.com/ Brandon Waltman

    it just had some really tough competition. Twilight and Bond are huge movies.

  • Mike Caracappa

    With Twilight, I think we’re swimming in High School Musical territory. I don’t think it would have made a difference who directed Bolt, the Box Office result would still be the same.

  • Eric Graf

    Bolt is a good movie, but it’s also a bland one. Disney Feature Animation used to be a studio that made features that were anything BUT bland.

    Which is why methinks the “stop bringing up Sanders” folks protesteth too much. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that, for good or bad, we’d be looking at a much more *interesting* (and marketable) movie had American Dog gone ahead as its creator intended.

    As for why it didn’t do as well as expected? Umm … Posters and lobby stand-ups with nothing but a logo on them? Character designs that screamed “generic”? Trailers that screamed “been there done that”? The taint of the last three animated turkeys released under the Disney name? The most painfully annoying promotional website in the history of the internet? ( http://www.youarefullyawesome.com/ ) The competition? The economy? The weather? Take your pick.

    I doubt it was the movie itself, since the people who decided not to go see it … hadn’t seen it.

  • AdrianC

    While the quality of “Bolt” as a movie is debatable, I agree with what several people have stated here: it had strong competition this weekend. “Twilight” is the obvious contender as the hype was unbelievable and it pulled in $70 million. How often do you see two or more movies pull in a similar amount of money in the same opening weekend?

    Throw in the other anticipated titles already in theaters (e.g. “Quantum of Solace”) and you’re looking at a relatively underwhelming portion of the pie for Disney’s new flick.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com/gerstein David Gerstein

    I can’t wholeheartedly jump on the Sanders bandwagon. From everything I’ve seen, the dog then called Henry seemed too humanized for a story in which we needed to believe in him as a dog. And while I could buy eyepatch kitty, the giant glowing rabbit and presumable Area 51 capers seemed highly unoriginal to me, recalling Bongo Comics’ Roswell: Little Green Man (which also featured giant rabbits!) as well as LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION.

    That said, however, I found that the completed BOLT had problems of its own, starting with the visuals. Bolt suffered less from the fact that he *wasn’t* the Sanders design than from the fact that he *was* blandly cute and “safe” in a fundamentally generic way. Animators struggled to make him memorably emote, and sometimes succeeded; but they’d have had an easier job, I think, with a more memorable design.
    And then there was Miley Cyrus. Oh, she did a fine job; that’s not my problem. My problem was that I stood in the theatre lobby watching as Cyrus’ presence caused some older boys to change their minds about wanting to see the film. “It’s got Miley Cyrus; it’s a girl movie.”

  • Hieronymous

    Its a very interesting development because ALL family animated films are CGI right now, but there is a stagnation here that is hard to ignore. People are being lured to see another CGI movie with talking animals every 90 days. If not every 90 days then at least for every season of the year. This can’t continue. Families aren’t going to keep paying the high ticket prices for the same look of similar movies this much.

    If it continues like this, the bottom is going to fall out.

    If the bottom falls out and production of CGI is rolled back drastically, then I’m really fearful for the CGI animators because there is going to be a glut of them out of work. They have specialized skills that can translate to other markets, but there are a TON of CGI artists here in Los Angeles.

    I’m a 2D artist so I wold like to see that section get revived, but I wouldn’t wish what happened to the 2D film industry on anyone.

  • Magnusson

    I feel like perhaps the failure of Bolt was really a failure of marketing, and not just the qualities of the film itself. Outside of the standard advertising and previews, there really wasn’t that much buildup or fanfare for the film. The promo really felt half-assed this time around.

    The fact that the concept and design was pretty bland didn’t really do it many favors in raising any eyebrows.

    Maybe Disney needs to try the “Gabbo!” technique in getting the word out.

  • Rodrigo

    Disney should thank Lasseter for this one.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    I’m not going to bring up AMERICAN DOG or Chris Sanders. It’s a moot point now.

    And we have to think outside the box here. TWILIGHT pretty much touched on a different, more topical audience (teenage girls and the emo crowd, the kind most people here *hate* with a passion), more redundant than the family audience for BOLT. And it’s not every day you see a new James Bond, so QUANTUM OF SOLACE was pretty strong at the box office.

    BOLT suffered for the same reason as MEET THE ROBINSONS: Bad timing, and weak advertising, as well as less merchandise (books and video games, but no toys or collectibles, AFAIK). Even AMERICAN DOG would’ve been too quirky for such strong competition.

    • Hannah Teare

      There were toys, like I have a toy of Mittens, the cat. However most of the toys were for Rhino, the hamster then Bolt and Mittens.

  • Scott

    A bland movie with bland marketing… the audience can smell a stinker from a mile away.

    I’m a cast member at the Disney Store and every time I brought up “Bolt” to any guest the response I got was, “What’s Bolt? Oh, that dog movie… Where’s the WALL-E DVD?”

    Better luck next time Disney.

  • http://yeldarb86.deviantart.com Mr. Semaj

    It was a given that Bolt would go neck-and-neck with James Bond, but as for Twilight, isn’t it almost a month late for Halloween?

    Financially, I pictured Bolt as one of Disney’s “reconstruction” films, where it may not bring in the big bucks, but still enough to show everyone that Disney Animation is on the right track to recovery. Something like The Great Mouse Detective and Oliver and Company from the 80′s.

    Disney still has to compete with DreamWorks and a few other non-Pixar animation studios to reclaim their “elite” status in the field. I think the big test will come from next year’s Princess and the Frog.

  • tom

    I agree that Sanders’ work on the film, while really attractive, wasn’t going to make people see this film. I really don’t think that dog had that much appeal, sadly. This is just Disney-bashing at its most pointless.

    I think that the film he would have made would have possibly been marked with critical indifference, and say what you want about the Bolt we got, but it’s garnered mostly positive reviews. Walking off the project in a huff doesn’t make Sanders right about the film. And walking away from what all insiders agree was a very flawed project doesn’t make him any more so.

  • Aleksandar Vujovic

    I blame the condensed production time. It’s no secret that the release date didn’t change but they threw out a lot of pre-production, so in turn they had a lot of catching up to do and hat to cut a few corners (which would account for majority of the sets being relatively empty. They just didn’t have enough time to turn this into a perfect film.

  • Hieronymous

    “I feel like perhaps the failure of Bolt was really a failure of marketing, and not just the qualities of the film itself. Outside of the standard advertising and previews, there really wasn’t that much buildup or fanfare for the film. “

    What?!?

    The market was saturated with advertising for this film. It was everywhere. You must have been extremely distracted for the last six months.

    • Hannah Teare

      The marketing was terrible though we can all agree on that.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    It’s sad to see Bolt perform not so great in its opening weekend. I still would have liked to have seen what would have happened with the film if Chris Sanders had stayed on it. The drawings looked very interesting.

  • Jesse

    I’m lucky to live in an area where we still have a single screen cinema. They always try to show what they think will be the most popular / highest grossing movie. They’ve been showing only Quantum of Solace since it came out, skipping on Bolt and Twilight completely. However, when Beverly Hills Chihuahua came out there was no other real competition and it stayed in the main theater for a pretty long time. Bolt ended up having to open in a cruddy multi-screen mall cineplex. I wonder if that has any significance to opening figures.

  • http://www.nicholastam.ca Nicholas Tam

    I think what we have to remember is that with the notable exception of Pixar, the major animation studios don’t actually have a brand identity in the eyes of the moviegoing public, most of which can’t tell you who did what (but recognize the names behind the celebrity voices, hence the trend post-Shrek to direct marketing that way – which has me shaking my head). It’s like how a lot of movie audiences are still drawn to screens by actors, not directors, though to us it seems obvious which of the two deliver a more consistent experience.

    Given that Disney markets its WDAS films like all the other big players in CG, the Disney brand has very little power on its own: it doesn’t recall Beauty and the Beast or Lion King – but rather, ABC shows, endless direct-to-DVD sequels, theme parks, and Big Corporations. The company suffers from the glut of its own message and the considerable damage that was done to it in the Eisner era.

    Which is why The Princess and the Frog will indeed be a real test, as it is so reminiscent of Disney’s positive legacy in animated features that marketing will have a unique tagline to play with for a change.

  • AR

    How many of the posters above saw the film? Anyone?
    A “stinker”? This was one of the best animated films of the past few years. It didn’t stand a chance against the “Twilight” hysteria, that’s all.

  • Michael

    That’s too bad about the opening weekend. I saw Bolt on saturday with my girlfriend and we both loved it. I went in expecting a good, but not great movie and got what I thought was a great movie. I hope business pickes up once word of mouth gets around, because it really is an funny, engaging movie with a lot of heart in it. In my opinion, Bolt is what Cars should have been. The characters are extremely likable and fun, and the arcs all make sense and nothing really seems forced. And they had great side characters. Miley Cyrus was pretty good as Penny, and James Lipton as the insane director completely sold me on the concept of Bolt not knowing anything about the tv show. Does anybody else think the agent looks an awful lot like Thomas Shumacher? Or is that just me?

  • Talita

    “I’m pretty sure if Chris Sander version happened, we might’ve ended up with a similar problem with Mark Dindal (The Emperor’s New Groove) and “Chicken Little”. Has you ever thought of that?”

    Much better films, by the way, than Pixar’s last efforts.

  • http://none Zack Mays

    Horny teenage grils are hard to over come !!!

  • http://www.animationinsider.net/ Aaron H. Bynum

    It should also be considered that the release date was moved up a week or two when it was clear that Warner Bros. wasn’t able to deliver the next Harry Potter film on schedule. If Disney had waited patiently and released the film over the Thanksgiving Day weekend as planned, they may have made more money…

  • http://www.losetheradio.net Roman

    OH NOES!

    This means 3D animations musts be failing!

    KWICK! Throw out the computorzez and makes 2D movies again.

    That’s what I’d do if I were an executive anyway ;)

    Does anyone think Disney maybe made a mistake in pushing the voices a bit much? Especially the Miley Cyrus angle… sort of takes away from the “timeless and ageless” appeal of Disney movies… ya know, the thing that made them special?

    Maybe I’m just stuck on the point a bit because I just saw The Pixar Story, with all the talk about giving notes on Toy Story to be “edgy” and how it didn’t work – Disney doesn’t have to be “cool” for people to like them. They have to be DISNEY.

  • Andrew

    Many have already stated my opinions on this and the reasons why it performed this way, so I won’t reiterate. Plus, I am pretty much too sick and tried to wrack my brain over it again!

    Needless to say, I discontinued my email Variety subscription for Box Office results.

  • Charles

    *snip*
    And then there was Miley Cyrus. Oh, she did a fine job; that’s not my problem. My problem was that I stood in the theatre lobby watching as Cyrus’ presence caused some older boys to change their minds about wanting to see the film. “It’s got Miley Cyrus; it’s a girl movie.”
    *snip*

    Y’know, I didn’t see Bolt this weekend but not because of Miley Cyrus, or the story, or the advertising, or any of the reasons listed so far. I just didn’t want to sit in a theatre with a bunch of noisy little kids detracting from my enjoyment of the film. ;)

    Will definitely see Bolt this week, preferably at a late showing on a school night before the Thanksgiving holiday. :)

    Ah…if only I could get movies on opening weekend for my home theatre…now THAT would be the way to enjoy an opening weekend. They’ve already got rental movies on iTunes that’ll self-destruct after viewing the movie, somebody get Steve Jobs working on streaming first-run movies to my home theatre! That’ll increase his opening weekend receipts (although probably at the cost of some really pissed off theatre managers). 8D

  • http://www.daintyproductions.com Chris Dainty

    I saw the movie on Saturday and really enjoyed it. I laughed a lot, and thought the story was really good. I had seen the preview and I didn’t think the film going to be particularly good, but after seeing the reviews on rottentomatoes.com with the film getting a 84% fresh I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m not sure why, but the marketing didn’t really appeal to me, maybe it was the name, maybe the dogs face, I’m not sure. Just something was missing from the ad’s. I also wasn’t a fan of the poster that just had the dogs tag and his name on it. It’s like the marketers were afraid to put an actual cartoon character on it.

    I saw it in 3d which was great, I highly recommend it. I wasn’t crazy about the dog character and I really think the cat and hamster stole the show. All around the story was solid and its a good fun movie to watch. I highly recommend it.

  • Gobo

    I loved the concept art Chris Sanders did. It was charming and quirky.

    That said, I couldn’t care less about American Dog, because it doesn’t exist, and John Lasseter knows way more than any of us about its story and production problems. And I’m guessing most, if not all, of the people whining about American Dog haven’t actually seen BOLT.

    BOLT is a charming, well-written, well-acted, tightly directed movie — a vast leap over “Meet the Robinsons” and “Chicken Little”. It deserves big business.

  • Annabel Cole

    Nicholas says: “[T]he Disney brand has very little power on its own: it doesn’t recall Beauty and the Beast or Lion King – but rather, ABC shows, endless direct-to-DVD sequels, theme parks, and Big Corporations. The company suffers from the glut of its own message.”

    This ties in to the point above about boys avoiding Bolt because Miley Cyrus was there. In the past ten years, Disney has shackled itself to highly visible “girly” brands: not brands that appeal to girls first but also draw boys, like Kim Possible, Pepper Ann, and Nickelodeon’s Aex Mack before them, but brands that focus on girly-girls in hot pink dancing, dating, preening, shopping, and singing, either in “real life” (some Disney Channel series) or abstract fairy tale worlds. Let’s not get far into the debate over whether these series are positive and empowering for young women, or the opposite (I think the opposite, but who wants to fight Trina Robbins, right?) Regardless of what this type of girls’ brand says to girls, there’s also the point that it tells traditionally raised boys, “Go away, fast.”

    One can attract a big girl audience and create popular brands focused at girls without being “girly.” For years, Disney avoided that trap, but I can easily conceive that many marketers within the company saw the Barbie market as a missed opportunity. So Disney found its Barbie in Disney’s Princess. And now there’s Disney’s Fairies, which in spite of my stance on gay rights is a brand name born to be mocked. After this glut of Disney pushing “girly” product as its main attraction, I think a lot of casually sexist grade school boys would call any Disney fan a Disney Fairy. It’s very sad (on several levels), but it’s our reality.

    Disney Stores today often have a sign out front that shows the company logo in hot pink or purple. The Disney Channel is now turning Toon Disney into a channel aimed strictly at boys, the implication being not just that the default channel is seen as “girly,” but that they have no plans to do anything about that rep. That’s right: Disney is not just for girls, but for girly-girls first. This kind of thinking might have brought a big boom in the girls’ market in the beginning, but now with Bolt perhaps that’s being offset by the losses in other markets. Inability to think beyond the next sales quarter? Who, me?

    At some point, if these trends continue, Disney will simply be unable to market anything to boys over five. Strategy for short-term success: put all your eggs in one basket.

  • elan

    Man, this is so annoying. Amid, someone….please, SOMEONE get their hands on the latest story reels of American Dog. Someone from Disney steal it and give it to someone and let people watch it online.

    Why?

    Because it was AWFUL!!! I saw the latest reel (yes, I worked at Disney then) and it was the most disjointed, confusing, quirky, weird, unmarketable movie Ive seen. It was rife with plot problems, the characters were unappealing (the dog looked like a miniature moose for eff’s sakes, and his giant nose took over the screen so you couldnt see his eyes, no matter what you did) Sanders was never around, and when he was, he wasnt leading, just giving weird notes and then would disappear for weeks. A-dog had ONE thing going for it, good concept art. Big effin deal.

    And thats fine for a film when its in early production, but this was ready for primetime, it was supposed to be final, and at the last possible second, Lasseter came in and saved the day. Bolt is WAAY better. Had Sanders stayed on the project, it would have either been severely delayed (which we couldnt afford, the execs woulda pulled the plug) or been abysmal and closed WDAS down.

    As it turns out, Bolt is the best animated film in a long long time from Disney (some think better than wall-e or ratatouille or the incredibles, no joke), and it just fell victim to a dumb fan-fueled movie that scored a 40-something on rottentomatoes and bad marketing. To an outsider watching the marketing, Bolt looks like trash, but after seeing it you realize its a VERY good film.

    Im sorry (very sorry) for ranting, but I HATE seeing people ignorantly trashing a film, and comparing it to a film they know NOTHING about, and have built up in their mind as something amazing, when in reality it was a garbage film being directed by an absentee, flighty director who was given plenty of chances to fix his film, and didnt.

    Lasseter didnt pull the plug on A-Dog because it was quirky, he pulled the plug because it just wasnt working and Sanders wouldnt fix it. And it wasnt just John’s opinion, we ALL disliked it, even those of us whole liked Chris very much personally.

    Now, this is just my opinion, but I hope I didnt ruffle too many feathers, but I just wanted you guys to know there IS another side to the story.

  • yvette kaplan

    I completely agree with AR and Michael. I too saw the film on Saturday and though I was less than excited going in– like most of the posters here, I expected a bland, generic film– but was stunned to find myself enthralled, moved, and completely delighted by it. I’ll go further– I haven’t been as involved, haven’t cared as much about a character– and even better- CHARACTERS– in a long time. I’ve enjoyed them, laughed at them, appreciated them– but this little dog, his cohorts and his perfectly told story had me in tears all the way thru. It’s the real thing. Wonderful acting- which means wonderful animation, and yes- the voices are terrific too. It IS classic Disney. Kids won’t forget it. They will be rooting for Bolt and feeling every thing he is feeling. You will too, so go see it and stop assuming based on the marketing, or on what it isn’t. So it may not be quirky or cutting edge, but it is as good as it gets as far as good solid story telling and characters you can’t forget is concerned. My applause to all involved.

  • http://www.mynameispj.com PJ

    A lot of people have already said this, but there really was no way Bolt could have stood up to the Twilight madness. Heck, there’s no way any opening movie could have. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that picking this weekend to release Bolt was a poor decision from the start, even Twilight aside–because remember what was GOING to be released this weekend before Twilight? The 6th Harry Potter movie. Twilight got moved into this weekend after Harry Potter got pushed back. So Bolt was going to be competing with a legion of Harry Potter fans or a legion of Twilight fans no matter what, and since Bolt doesn’t have a legion of fans culled from a best-selling book series following him, he simply wasn’t going to stand a chance box-office wise.

    I do feel like Bolt is going to gain some momentum, once the Twilight hysteria dies down (especially considering that, from what I hear, the Twilight movie kind of sucks).

    I’ve gotta say I’m pretty sick of hearing about American Dog, too. The movie wasn’t made, and we really need to get over it. I could go on and rant my feelings about the American Dog concept art–which I did think was good art, but I have other thoughts about it as well–but like someone already said, that’s all a moot point now.

  • http://CartoonBrew Ed

    Am a 15 year story guy in So Cal. Whatever happened during production aside, Bolt kicked ass. Go see it. Put your nit-picky animation industry goggles away, and see it. Granted, I put mine right back on after I got back to the car, but really, Bolt was very very good.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    To me, the big story this weekend isn’t how BOLT failed at being #1 at the box office. It’s how MADAGASCAR 2 was number #4 ($16 mil, with a cum gross of $137 million) and that we have two animated features in the Top 5. That’s an incredible feat as it is.

    Don’t write off BOLT just yet. TWILIGHT is a phenomenon, but I think MAD-2′s momentum really bit into BOLT’s performance. The bigger contest is how BOLT fares against MAD-2 and TWILIGHT over the upcoming four day holiday weekend. That will tell the tale.

    It won’t surprise me if, come Christmas, BOLT out-grosses TWILIGHT in the end.

  • Hieronymous

    The bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter what the quality of the movie is, or what Chris Sander’sversion would have been, or that Twilight opened the same weekend.

    The bottom line is the numbers.

    …and Disney executives were all VERY VERY antsy about whether this movie would do well/poorly. Its no secret that they were investing a lot on this release and so far it isn’t measuring up. Decisions will be made at the studio because of that fact.

  • http://www.chumwad.com Derek M

    Hey Elan,

    Thanks for the insiders look.

    You are right that I fell in love with the concept art and some of the shots I saw, and I’m sure I have a wonderful movie pictured in my head that is nothing like how the project was shaping up.

    Really my dislike of the film is purely cosmetic. From the trailer and the two clips on apple’s site I think the animation and rendering looks fantastic and I certainly wouldn’t want to denigrate the hard work of the people who labored on this film.

    I’m just saying Disney needs to define their visual style again. Between Chicken Little, MTR, and now Bolt, the style is as bland and safe as it gets.
    Catering to the lowest common denominator is a trend that’s ending now. Films are going to need a singular vision to separate themselves from the pack and Disney would be wise to step back and let their artists have more control.

  • Chuck

    I really can’t comment on the quality of BOLT since I haven’t seen it yet, but I can tell you that the members of the target audience in my home (5 yr old twins) know nothing about it because they would be all over me to go see it. There has been very little TV advertising in our Market (NC) and not much word of mouth. Compare that to TWILIGHT which they know about since their friends’ older siblings are excited over it… ditto with High School Musical 3.

    I will probably take them to it, provided they aren’t begging to see the IMAX Polar Express again for the 3rd year in a row.

    We are looking forward to seeing the Princess though.

  • Creepy

    this is really unfortunate. I know there was so much hard work put into Bolt. There is still a chance Bolt can get some traction this week, don’t write it completely off just yet. Hopefully Disney will do better next time round with the 2D Frog.

  • http://www.animation-animagic.com Celbi P.

    I don´t know if American Dog would be great, but I dislike the idea to see Chris Sanders or Mark Dindal out of Disney. Most of the so called Brain Trust have Pixar directors. I would like to see a Brain Trust with true Disney creative people… Sanders, Dindal, Eric Goldberg, Keane. Perhaps someone could tell me who more is in the Brain Trust group.

  • Nic Kramer

    “As I see it, Bolt’s numbers reflect a growing critical and popular dissatisfaction with Pixar and disgraced former Pixar chief John Lassetter. Most of the movie going public already knows the story: Lassetter, driven from Pixar, crawls to Disney and immediately fires Chris Sanders from the one animated project that could have saved DFA, American Dog…”

    I hate to say it, Jim, but there’s a reason I rarely go on your website.
    And your false statements are the reason.

  • The Obvious

    Regarding American Dog/Bolt, I would just like to say that one thing the film would have had going for it if it had remained a Chris Sanders project is the tagline, “From the creator of Lilo and Stitch…” It may have very well been an inferior project, but it would have piqued my interest.

    Either way, I wonder if there were any legal issues relating to using Chris’ original designs. Perhaps Elan knows.

    From the sound of things, it will be 2011 before we have a chance to see a Chris Sanders directed effort , or 2010 if he’s directing How to Train Your Dragon.

  • Gobo

    Elan, thanks for the insider view. As much as I dig Sanders’ art, the character design of the dog always bugged me, too — “huge nostrils” aren’t tops on my list of an appealing character design for a puppy.

    Compared to his quirk-tastic design style, Bolt might look “bland” to some here, but he’s got huge appeal and his movements are lovely to watch. He’s likely the most appealing animated dog I’ve seen on screen.

    I can’t disagree more with Jim Hill’s take on this. An animated film comes in just behind the most hyped movie of the fall, and it’s “catastrophic”? It’ll destroy “Miley Montana’s” career? (Who’s that?) I think Bolt’s going to grow by word of mouth over the Thanksgiving holiday and be big this holiday season.

  • Crystal

    I didn’t see it this weekend because my whole family plans to see it all together at once this Thanksgiving. I can’t help but think this may be what happened with the start-off low numbers this weekend and with other families.

  • http://www.mynameispj.com PJ

    @Celbi, I think that a Disney Brain Trust full of Disney-alumni would be a good idea–but they need to be actually form a brain trust and handle it the way Pixar does. I don’t think its necessarily the people that make the Pixar Brain Trust such a powerful tool, I think its their attitude of ruthlessly preening the weak bits out of their stories until they’re left with as strong a story as they can get. It’s the same thing Disney himself did in his “Sweat Boxes” when he reviewed reels with his animators.

    I don’t think the point is that Disney isn’t full of people who would be good at this kind of thing–indeed, so many of them are so creative and talented that they’d probably be fantastic at it. From what I can tell on the outside (and from what I gleaned from elan’s post), its more that there’s a lack of direction and focus across the studio as a whole, which I think is what Lasseter’s trying to build.

  • Tek Jansen

    @ Jim Hill: “And the damage done to Miley Montana’s career cannot be overstated.”

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    Riiight. Nostradamus you aint.

  • Jody Morgan

    Bolt made $27m in its opening weekend while Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa made $16m in its third? Ouch. (Wait, no, that’s not right; take it from the top…) Ouch!

    Still, Disney can find some reason for hope, if they choose to do so: Bolt is garnering positive reviews and, apparently, very good word-of-mouth, while weekend champ Twilight is already tumbling sharply, having made half its weekend gross on Friday (including $7m for the opening midnight showings, more than half what the movie made all day Sunday). On the other hand, M:E2A‘s $16m almost certainly cut into Bolt‘s opening as much as Twilight‘s $70m, and it’s held up pretty well after three weeks. Unless Disney marketing can find a way to tap into and augment the positive word-of-mouth for Bolt, it’s likely to be remembered as a box-office disappointment, if not an outright bomb.

    Nina Paley:
    “Opening weekend numbers have nothing to do with the quality or longevity of a film, so why do we care so much about them?”

    Because, sadly, that’s the primary concern of the decision-makers at the major studios. I forgot where I read it, but I saw in an article recently that something like 90% of a movie’s gross during its first two weeks goes to the studios, and the theaters actually showing the movies get only 10%. (No doubt this is why studios are so enamored of sequels and franchises, with their built-in audiences eager to see the next installment as soon as it opens.)

    Jim Hill:
    “As I see it, Bolt’s numbers reflect [... pretty much entire post ...] never happened on Michael Eisner’s watch.”

    Um, wha? I mean, I know you’re not being entirely serious, but… wha?

    One more hopeful sign, culled from Jim’s article on Bolt‘s disappointing opening: “It seems that the [Disney] Stores are finding it tough to keep the 12″ Bolt Plush Toy in stock.” (Actually, judging from the picture in the article, the plush looks cuter than the actual character…)

    Anyway, here’s hoping Bolt shows extraordinary legs at the box-office, and that, coupled with the weak opening, convinces Disney executives that good stories trump celebrity names when it comes to drawing an audience.

  • Inkan1969

    I’m pretty sure that post by “Jim Hill” is a hoax…

  • Sabrin

    I’m annoyed to work in this industry for these moments right here. All the complaining and arguing over opinions and personal taste. To some, Bolt looks “bland”…I’d have to disagree, after seeing the movie and loving it. I can’t remember the last time Disney took any real big leap with getting off the “bland wagon”, so why should this be any different? It’s Disney’s thing. It always has been, and it always will be.

    I’m tired of industry people being completely selfish and only ever wanting character designs that appeal to THEM, and not to the MASSES and general public who AREN’T artists and designers. I can appreciate Sander’s concept drawings and they are wonderful for what they are, but like so many have already said here, you can’t judge something that never was…or even seen yet (Bolt) for that matter.

    I’m with you Phil, and all the others that have at least given this movie a chance. Sure, it wasn’t anything REALLY new story-wise, but if this is what Disney needs to pick itself up and dust itself off…at least they’re trying to change. And to me, it’s a step back in the right direction.

  • Eric Graf

    Everybody who thinks that the “Jim Hill” post above was by **that** Jim Hill …. I’ve got a bridge for sale, cheap.

  • bob

    im sick of the celebrity voices in every animated movie, miley cyrus has an ugly voice. shes wrong for the voice, they just wanted to use her name to make money.

  • http://www.nicholastam.ca Nicholas Tam

    @ Jim Hill, whom I would assume was joking if I hadn’t seen his website (which I used to read very regularly) descend into box-office spin on what was frankly the wrong side of the Disney-Pixar deal: I don’t think the majority of the ticket-buying public has even heard of John Lasseter, let alone Chris Sanders.

    And – as much as I miss the early concept art for American Dog – I think most of us can agree that John L. is the kind of person who would call for a directorial overhaul for artistic, not commercial reasons, and we have some evidence of that working before (Jan Pinkava, Brad Bird, Ratatouille). It’s pretty easy to shudder at any top-down managerial decisions when it comes to highly personal cinematic visions and so forth, but Lasseter knows what story is and has the CV to prove it.

    A seemingly tepid opening weekend doesn’t reveal a failure in the filmmaking process when most people, especially the target audience, don’t have a clue about what happened in the production pipeline. It does reveal a defect in how Disney is leveraging its brand identity. Regardless of the quality of the finished film itself (I’ve been staying away from that, since I haven’t seen it, but intend to), it didn’t help that Bolt was sold as more of the same. Even the trailers were cut to formula: 1. Serious scene. 2. [Zip!] Reveal to the audience that it’s all tongue-in-cheek. 3. Identify the celebrity voices.

    Now compare that to how Pixar films are marketed: 1. A character design teaser, establishing new characters as their own brand from the start. 2. Increasingly nostalgic reminders of what Pixar has made before. 3. A deep respect for the art form and its history; we’re talking about trailers for WALL-E that eschewed pop music for the theme to Brazil. (Wait, isn’t this the same marketing staff here? Why aren’t they cluing in?)

    And it’s true that opening weekends are a marketing indicator these days. Nowadays, even succeeding weekends are a shaky metric of a film’s mindshare… it’s the openings of sequels that reflect the place of an original property in the public’s consciousness. But is it really an accident that Pixar’s films routinely set opening-weekend records for films not based on any existing properties?

    I agree with Jerry that we should appreciate how well animation is doing amidst stupid-stiff competition in the middle of November. But notice how Disney isn’t seen as a “tentpole” player, and how other studios aren’t the least bit afraid of scheduling head-to-head with their in-house productions. I hope the Disney execs take the right message away from this and start thinking long-term.

  • amid

    PS – We’ve removed the post from “Jim Hill”. We received an email from the real Jim Hill this afternoon who said that it was not him posting on the site. Sorry we let this get through. This troublemaker has attempted to pass himself off as Jim in the past before and we’ve always caught it.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    The real failure here (if you could call it that) is in the fact that it was put up against “Twilight” and “Bond”. Had Disney kept it’s powder dry, and held the film until a Wednesday (Nov 26th) night release, an opening weekend could have been huge, with Thanksgiving being the big premiere day.

    I honestly hadn’t ever heard of “Twilight” before this weekend, but it’s not my job to know about such films. Whoever scheduled Bolt’s release for this past weekend, knowing that “Twilight” was coming out should get a talking to at the least.

  • Brian Kidd

    I actually wanted to see BOLT this past weekend, not because I thought it was going to blow me away, but because the last few Disney animated films have been solid, dependable entertainment. They aren’t great or daring, like the Pixar films; but you always get your money’s worth. That’s where it fell apart for me this time. When I looked to find showtimes, I saw that our local AMC theater was charging $15 for an adult admission and $12 for a child’s. Supposedly, this is to offset the cost of the 3D glasses. Hooey. In today’s economy, I just can’t justify paying that kind of money for a good, if not great, film. Hollywood (not just Disney, so don’t think I’m picking on them) has to realize that there is a limit to the amount that people will pay to see a film. In this case, I would have gladly paid seven or eight bucks to see BOLT and not felt that I was being cheated. Well, save for the interminable ads that run before the film, but that’s another rant for another time. I want to encourage the studios to invest in quality animation. I want to be able to take my son out to the movies. I just can’t justify it at those prices. I suspect I’m not the only one. I’m not saying that it’s the sole reason that BOLT didn’t live up to expectations, but it had to have had an effect somewhat. I hope that BOLT turns out to be profitable enough for Disney to keep going in the right direction with their animated features. I’m just going to have to wait for DVD to catch it and that saddens me.

  • Foosball Lova

    1. Rotten Tomatoes is at 85%: it’s a great movie.
    2. 99% of the reviews are raving about Bolt
    3. People tell me they love the film
    4. Thanksgiving Weekend will be good for Bolt and the weeks after too. It’s a family film and that’s the time families comes out and watch movies like Bolt.

    So, give it a little time. I’m guessing after 10 days it will come in at about 90M. Which is great for a movie that went up against a juggernaut like Twillight. And still had to compete with Bond and Mad 2.

    FL

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    >>Man, this is so annoying. Amid, someone….please, SOMEONE get their hands on the latest story reels of American Dog. Someone from Disney steal it and give it to someone and let people watch it online.

    Why?

    Because it was AWFUL!!! I saw the latest reel (yes, I worked at Disney then) and it was the most disjointed, confusing, quirky, weird, unmarketable movie Ive seen. It was rife with plot problems, the characters were unappealing (the dog looked like a miniature moose for eff’s sakes, and his giant nose took over the screen so you couldnt see his eyes, no matter what you did) Sanders was never around, and when he was, he wasnt leading, just giving weird notes and then would disappear for weeks. A-dog had ONE thing going for it, good concept art. Big effin deal.<<

    I think somebody should do it, yes. I would like to see it, even if it was that bad it would be extremely interesting to see it. They should include that stuff in The Art Of books or talk about it in the dvd comments…something. That’s the kind of extra-stuff I’m really interested to know about.

    Can’t someone at least post the drawings on the internet and some text explaining the story with detail. SOMETHING.

    Either way I’d agree both Sanders and Dindal are great talents and not having them in Disney is a very bad idea.

    And even though maybe all of us are terribly wrong about Sanders’ version people who knew the previous stuff shouldn’t be infuriated about it. I don’t even care if it was that bad. I only know that those designs were more interesting and I’m tired of seeing concept designs being made to choose the more generic and bland stuff. I have the Lilo and Stitch artbook and that’s one movie that didn’t change that much from the original designs. It’s possible to keep the distinctive stuff.

    And about the dog being ugly in Sander’s version there were different drawings of him and some looked nicer than others. Also a character doesn’t have to be “cute” to have appeal. Foghorn Legorn wasn’t exactly cute, but he had a personality.

    As for Bolt I’ll watch it pretty soon, then I’ll write something. Thing is I can see why people liked Sander’s concept and all the comments saying the movie was bad back then do not justify the lack of not generic designs in this or other animated movies. Maybe this movie is not the worst example of it, but it’s a good example.

    I mostly agree with Nicholas Tam about the rest.

  • http://spungella.blogspot.com Jean-Denis Haas

    “Bolt” was very good, I’m really sad to see the opening number. Hopefully word of mouth will help it.

    Does anybody know who animated the opening shot with the puppies? It was unbelievably well animated (so is the rest of the movie).

  • http://Mr.FunsBlog Floyd Norman

    Perhaps the Disney executives should have attended a Stephanie Meyer book signing. I have.

    The incredible devotion of her fans is truly something to see. If I were a producer, no way would I put anything up against her.

    Talk about getting bit. . .

  • Hieronymous

    Twilight is a movie for a different demographic. An older demographic and a mostly female one.

    Twilight is a poor excuse for a family feature to do so poorly. People are sick and tired of CGI talking animals. The ones that aren’t all went to see “Madagascar 2″ and weren’t inclined for yet another dose of the same form of film just a few days later.

    We’ve BEEN HERE BEFORE people.

  • Tee

    Just so you know the “Brain Trust” is filled with many Disney animators. Pixar’s “Story Trust” has taken looks at the films but they don’t take preference over the folks in the Hat Building.

  • PorkyMills

    “It’s easy to get excited over production art of un-made films. Everything in production art always looks cool, it’s supposed to. It unleashes YOUR imagination and you run off imagining your own story.”

    Which is exactly why people still lament over American Dog’s demise; Sander’s designs were inspiring, original and unleashed your imagination – the same cannot be said for Bolt. While Bolt’s designs were not horrible, they did not enlist the same response from the crowd (and part of that may be because people had warmed up to Sander’s designs before) but there’s nothing magical or creative about Bolt’s designs – they’re serviceable and nothing more.

  • http://www.mynameispj.com PJ

    @ Hieronymous:

    >>Twilight is a poor excuse for a family feature to do so poorly.<<

    I dunno, there were news stories about how many children were dragging their parents to go see Twilight, which I think would definitely cut into Bolt’s market. Twilight more or less seems to have a handle on the same demographic of adolescents that the Harry Potter series has (although I’d say HP has a larger adult following) so I think those kids would choose Twilight over Bolt, and parents wouldn’t go to see Bolt unless they had the entire family in tow

    ———————–

    @ Tee:

    <>

    That’s cool–straying off topic, but I would absolutely love to sit in on any of these “Trust” meetings. Sounds like there’d be a really neat dynamic.

  • elan

    Brian Kidd: Many theaters are running both Bolt in 3D (RealD) and regular film prints as well, and those should be regular ticket prices. Hopefully you’ll find a screening that’s not RealD.

    Roberto: I agree the designs are less inspired and more generic, but Disney needed a more dog-looking dog to fit with the new story, and frankly, they did the best they could in the time allotted. The turn-around on Bolt was staggering (staggering). Its an excuse, I know, but thats the reason. The bulk (85%?) of Bolt’s animation happened in 4-5 months.

    Jean-Denis: I *think* that shot was animated by Becky Breese. Killer, I know.

  • Mike

    Totally superficial comment: Haven’t seen the film, just the preview and screen shots. That said, I think the above image is beautiful! Don’t know if it’s a staged publicity shot but Bolt’s pose and the composition is just really nice. Usually still shots from an animated film fall dead to me.

    If I had to judge the movie based on shots like this – I’m thinkin’ thumbs up! Again, superficial, I know.

    I did like the freshness of the artwork from the Sander’s version, too. But if what was said above is true (confusing and convoluted story line…) it sounds like they made the right decision. Even fresh imagery spoils quickly under the hot lights of a bad story.

    And I had to be reminded of the opening date. Usually that day has been sufficiently burned into my brain by MacDonald’s, Target, Wal-Mart, Disney… All the good decisions in the world on the creative side can only do so much – Marketing has to run with the ball, too.

  • Fred Cline

    The real profits on animated releases come from DVD sales and character licensing anyway, so, the box office is really just a market indicator of what can be expected later in those other arenas. An animated film can actually do very ordinary business in the theaters and then go on to make enormous profits in the other markets, so, big deal about box office. Twilight, on the other hand, will make most of it’s money in the box office and most of that money will be on the opening weekend.

    chrissandsersamericandogthereisaidit!

  • a Reader

    “An animated film can actually do very ordinary business in the theaters and then go on to make enormous profits in the other markets, so, big deal about box office.

    Examples?

    There isn’t ANY animated film that has done “ordinary” business in the last 40 years that went on to make “enormous profits” in “other markets”. Other than theaters? Do you mean merchandising? What on earth are you talking about? I’m afraid that BOX OFFICE is indeed a BIG DEAL, end of story. DVD sales, btw, are famously tanking compared to what they were a few years ago. But you’d have to read the business section of any newspaper or at least the online industry trades to know that.

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    A Reader – Not to disagree with you, but I’d cite Tim Burton’s NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS as a film that did “ordinary” business ($50 million U.S. gross) but went on to become an enormous merchandising cash-cow for Disney.

    And if someone can explain why Universal made eleven direct-to-video sequels to LAND BEFORE TIME… but I digress.

    Initial box office gross is indeed a big deal, but it’s not the whole story.

  • Inkan1969

    “a Reader”. What about “The Emperor’s New Groove”? Or “The Polar Express”? Both had lackluster opening weekends that inspired a lot of boxoffice obits. But they both turned out to have legs strong enough to carry them to large overall boxoffices.

  • Hieronymous

    “A Nightmare Before Christmas” is a cash cow because its a holiday feature, and in being that, people return to it annually. This is why nearly every big recording artist (from Mariah Carey to Twisted Sister) does a holiday album. Because if they pull it off and it resonates with the public it will sell copies ad infinitum.
    Bolt doesn’t have that perennial potential.

  • Hieronymous

    Same situation with “Polar Express”.

  • elan

    And while Cars is technically a box office success (though, not one of the bigger ones), it made 4 times that much in merchandising.

    Box office: ~450 million
    Merchandising: ~2 billion (with a “b”)

  • Fred Cline

    “A Reader”

    Thanks Jerry and Inkan1969 for defending me against that brutal attack.

    Another example:
    “Yet even box-office bombs can redeem themselves as home videos. Fox’s “Ferngully,” sold an estimated 2.5 million videos, collecting in the neighborhood of $50 million at retail, nearly half for the studio. It only made $21 million in theaters in 1992.”
    -NY Times Oct. 17, 1994

    The list goes on and on, but the real Cinderella story of the difference between box office and other market profit has to be Rick Rich’s “The Swan Princess” which grossed less than 4 million at the B.O., yet went on to do over $100 million in home video sales.

  • creepy

    This does not bode well. I think they really have to reevaluate what they want to be. Are they going to be the Pixar step brother or lead, like their Disney predecessors before them. Do they focus on their roots as a 2D studio or push the CGI in a design direction like the experiments of Disney short’s from the 50′s.

    They have to find a way to stand out again. Pixar is a 1000 pound gorilla and they know what they want to do. Its hard to have 2 major CGI studios putting out 3D films, they have to be different.

  • http://www.latimes.com David Rastor

    Becky Bresee did indeed animate that outstanding shot at the beginning of ‘Bolt.’ She’s worth her weight in gold.

    If you reeeallly want to know what Sander’s “American Dog” was like, track down all your friends at Pixar. All the animators there were shown the reels. Ask THEM how the story was.

    Ask THEM how they felt as they walked out of the screening muttering if they could get the last two hours of their lives back.

    Ask THEM if they felt the lack of any narrative flow, or coherency was a hinderance to their “enjoyment” of the film.

    And then ask yourself why Sanders wouldn’t listen to anybody, take any criticism, or tolerate the advice of his peers?

    No, the designs on Bolt aren’t incredibly inspired, but the film itself is very solid, and works on multiple levels. The art direction, I feel, is quite incredible.

    Don’t mythologize a story reel, assuming that Pixar’s greatest minds just couldn’t handle Sander’s genius. Awesome preproduction artwork does not equal great moviemaking. Non-sequitor quirkiness is not a substitute for strong storytelling or wit.

  • http://www.davemackey.com Dave Mackey

    Floyd Norman: therein lies the rub. Stephenie Meyer is the new J.K. Rowling and she is to be watched closely from here on out. I guess Disney underestimated what she was capable of.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    Actually I think storytelling is a little overrated and quirkiness is underrated. Of course a movie should be entertaining and well told in a visual manner. But sometimes I feel as if directors don’t use awesome material because of the “serving the story” mantra. For example the Duck and Cover entire song we can see in the Iron Giant special edition dvd is hilarious. They should have shown it entirely in the movie. The Simpsons does that a lot, they use this “filler” sequences that ultimately are some of the funniest or more memorable set-pieces.

    What story does Three Caballeros have? Very little, and still it’s probably my fave Disney movie.

    This is my opinion about story vs quirkiness, I just brought it up cause the subject was mentioned. I’m not saying that would be the thing with American Dog, perhaps it was really boring or uninteligible. I must admit I don’t really get Sander’s Kiskaloo comic strip, so maybe you have a point. But I still think it had to be possible to change the story without changing the original concept and style that much. If there are so many good storytellers in Disney they should be capable of making it better without changing the tone and style. I mean, even when Sanders had already left. Making the movie marketable obviously produces bigger chances. If somebody starts a comic book and tries to make his story better and better over the years he won’t probably change the art style or tone that much.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    Then again, it’d be wise for Disney to not use Sanders’ designs after firing him. Starting with a clean slate was a wise choice, because it would’ve been very damaging to both Sanders AND Disney.

  • Sue

    Bolt was a very strong movie, and I think it will win out in the end.
    I hate the whole ‘box office gross’ is used to tell how good a movie is.
    If I went by that, I would’v missed out on Surf’s Up, Iron Giant, Cat’s Don’t Dance…
    I really enjoyed Bolt, even if it goes through it’s run largely unnoticed. People will discover it sooner or later.
    It’s still a wonderful movie, and I’m excited about Disney again.

  • Noah

    “I think ‘Bolt’ is a strong movie.”
    “I think its solid.”
    “I hope it takes in a huge box office. It’s got heart and determination. It also has values.”

    As an animator and a lover of all things animated, I must say comments like these make me sad. I just want a movie that intrigues me emotionally and visually. I like daring. Saying “‘Bolt’ is a strong movie” feels more like saying the disney Pixar formula does it again. Damn their good.

    “You know I really love the story about the character that doesn’t entirely understand himself, but then, through a collection of hilarious turns and and roundish fuzzy characters, learns not just about life, but most importantly about himself.”

    Who knows if American Dog would have had a good story, but at least the production values would have had some life and color. At least it wouldn’t have looked like some disney animated series.

    As for Box Office whining. Movie studios should fess up to the gobbs of money they make off collectable toys, DVD and videogames.

    “Videogames you say?”

    “Yes videogames. The market that makes over a billion dollars a year.”

    This is HUUUGE revenues we’re talking about. I don’t cry for Box office. But I do wonder why the numbers are so important. Honestly I do get interested. I guess I like money. I think Bolt taught me that… Also I recommend buying every console edition of Bolt for the Wii, DS, 360 and PS3.

  • Adam

    I saw it Sunday, with my wife and son. I went in with rock bottom low expectations and bile from cartoon brew – thanks Amid. I was ready for some trash.

    I loved it. She loved it. The kid loved it (though he’s only two, so he doesn’t really have the critical mindset – he just loved the kitty and doggy).

    So it was a real surprise, is what I’m saying. It was worth seeing, unlike MAD-2. And as annoying as ‘fully awesome’ is, still loads better than ‘crackalackin’.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    I just changed my mind about the Kiskaloo comic strip. It was a long time since I have checked Sanders’ web. It’s really quite original and fun when you read the whole story. I’d prefer a movie similar to that rather than Bolt, even though I haven’t watched Bolt yet.

  • http://www.abstruseart.com JPDJ

    Saw “Bolt” today while taking a break from football. In summary:

    It’s a generic film but young kids who haven’t seen many movies yet won’t know that. They’ll like it. And Bolt looks pretty frickin’ cute. Hell, I’d buy a plush toy.

    As for the rest of us–well–you won’t find any surprises. No “holy sh*t” moments to remember fondly (though I did enjoy Rhino) but by the same token, there aren’t any cringe moments either. You won’t walk away feeling disgusted.

    I never worked at Disney and so was never privy to the mythical “American Dog” reels but from what I’m hearing they aren’t that great anyway. It’s better that “Bolt” be a decent movie that keeps the studio going rather than some clunky, unwieldy piece of crap that drives audiences away into the waiting arms of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.”

    In any event, I’ve stopped looking to animated features for originality. The cartoons with the newest ideas (both good and bad) are in comics or online.

  • http://aiderfortheunloved.tripod.com/cartoonaideroftheunlovedanimationancartoonnewsarticalspapers KuzcoBefriendsMiloAnBuzz9837

    I dont believe anything the person said about working at Disney and seeing Chris sanders Film American Dog. boy man some people would believe anything. I could say I work At Warner Bros. And you would believe that I do. anyways I for 1 Know and Believe that their is Life beyond Disney and Pixar and Robert Iger and John Lasster.

    An I now Hate them both Because of all the Apathy and Hate and Lash outs and Attacks given from both sides. I CANT WAIT TILL Both Disney and Pixar go Under because then People will see that there is more than Disney and Pixar beyond the Rainbow and the Pot of Gold.

  • Acetate

    Loved it. Really fun. (Although as other have mentioned it really made me miss 2-d for some reason.) It would have worked just as well as a traditionally animated feature. But I digress. Go see it !

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    Saw Bolt today and I pretty much agree with JPDJ, though I don’t want to stop looking for originality in animated features.

    Yep, it was ok, it was “solid” and all that (I guess I’m not very original either) but then again it was like Toy Story all over again.

    The new part was that they combined some Pixar and Disney elements, and I thought it had a certain warmth Pixar films usually don’t have (except for Monsters Inc.). But it was also borderline sappy.

    It was a little heavy on dialogue in the middle part, but it was pretty entertaining.

    The best character for me was Mittens. I felt mor sympathy for her than I felt for Bolt , Penny or Rhino. Rhino was fun sometimes, borderline irritating in some other moments. He was almost funnier when he didn’t talk, some of his facial expressions were enjoyable.

    Miley Cyrus was ok, not great, not terrible either. Travolta was a little better, but I liked Mittens’ and Rhino’s voices more than any others’.

    Some human designs were good, other were a little odd.

    The pidgeons were ok, but a total rip-off of the Godfeathers.

    Overall it was ok but I’m almost sure I’d prefer Sanders’ version.

    Loved the credit titles in 2d, I would have liked to see the movie drawn with that style, that would have been pretty sweet.

  • Mike

    Just returned from seeing Bolt. Loved it! My kids loved it. My relatives loved it. I don’t remember the last animated movie that moved me like this one did.

    Didn’t like the mom character (looked like a rejected “monster” from the upcoming Dreamworks movie), story dragged a bit in the second quarter.

    BUT – lots of great themes – courage, friendship, sacrifice, love…

    Great thoughts for this time of year. Thanks John L and all the rest. You did it again!

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/Shrekdonkey1973 Ulrik

    I love it!

    The best movie of 2008 until now!

  • http://www.pbcbstudios.blogspot.com pbcbstudios

    2nd week – I’m sure noone will notice this:

    From the Hollywood Reporter
    Elsewhere, Disney’s CG-animated feature “Bolt” marked an incredible 1% uptick from its soft opening frame of a week earlier, registering $26.6 million in second place over the latest session. The impressive comeback performance boosted the family comedy’s 10-day cume to $66.9 million.

  • Stellaluna

    What I like about Bolt is that it seems a lot more accessible to foreign viewers than American Dog. Disney’s themes usually go beyond countries, except when they don’t, and either way could be great, but there was enough America!Love in Cars to last Disney for a while. It just seems to me that the target audiences of A-dog and Bolt are different, so people should really stop comparing them, especially when one never even made it to cinemas.