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“Cars 2” Outgrosses “Winnie the Pooh” Debut

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh, Disney’s first hand-drawn animated feature since 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, opened in 6th place with $7.85 million dollars. Cars 2, another Disney release, pocketed $8.4M in its fourth weekend, good enough for a 5th place finish and an overall gross of $165.4M. Below are the openings for the other recent films in the Pooh franchise:

The Tigger Movie (2000): $9.4M
Piglet’s Big Movie (2003): $6M
Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (2005): $5.8M

The film’s reason for existence has nothing to do with box office, however. Like Cars 2, it appears to be a corporate obligation first and foremost. Winnie the Pooh is the second-largest character franchise in the world, earning $5.7 billion in revenue last year. To put that into perspective, Pooh earned more in 2010 than the combined Toy Story and Cars franchises, which are the fifth and sixth highest-earning character franchises.

The world’s most valuable franchise is Disney’s Mickey Mouse, which took in $9 billion last year. If the company’s approach to its other top-earning franchises like Pooh, Cars and Toy Story is any indication, could a Mickey Mouse feature be that far off?

  • Nick

    Another comment about a Mickey Mouse feature.. I would love to see that happen. I keep hearing these little hints and rumors around the web, is there any evidence yet that proves something is in the works? if done right it could be fantastic, i dont think the epic mickey thing will happen but something similar would be good.

  • Duh, it opened against Harry Potter! I guess some film had to do it. Thanks, Pooh for throwing yourself on that grenade.

    • 2011 Adult

      “Oh. Is that what that is? Oh bother. And I was hoping it was a pine co–


  • Matt D

    Too bad that Pooh couldn’t have done a little better, but at least on their way to creating a “merchandise movie” they also happened to make a very charming film.

    • SamECircle

      Ha, yeah, I agree totally, I feel like often some of the best work out there is really well made merchandise movies and stuff, especially if it’s a small budget and they can pretty much do whatever they want. (Insert reference to MLPFIM here)

  • joe c

    As long as it’s not the wimpy, bland corporate Everyman Mickey Mouse, but instead the daring, feisty one of the earlier cartoons and the Floyd Gottfredson strips, I’d be down with that.

    • They tried to bring it back with Epic Mickey, and even then it was really watered down.

      • Bud

        Thank goodness THAT failed. No more “shlepic” mickey.

        We want CLASSIC Mickey! Action. Adventure. Swashbuckling!

      • Gobo

        Bud: It won Best Wii Game of 2010 from IGN, sold over a million copies in its first month, and has sold over 2 million copies so far. That’s a failure?

    • B.Bonny

      Does the Mickey of “Runaway Brain” count as “feisty”?

      • Gene

        Possibly. Just not very good.

      • I love RUNAWAY BRAIN for what it is, but it doesn’t exactly show the adventurous Mickey. He starts the story as an easily flustered nebbish; when the mad scientist proposes an “adventure,” he squeaks out “I hate adventure!”
        He does dramatically fight the monster after getting his old body back, but up till then he comes off as Jon Arbuckle.

  • zork

    Also you have to take into consideration the fact that it had about zero advertising. I didn’t meet a single person in the target audience who even knew it was coming out. I bet the primary contingent of that audience was adults/young adults nostalgic for the old short.

  • tgentry

    Haven’t seen Pooh yet, but I saw a ton of previews for it, both on television and in theaters — specifically the ads with the Keane song in it. They definitely put some $$$ behind the ad campaign. I thought of taking my 5 year old, but he showed zero interest in it. Pooh merchandise is big with parents buying sheets, nursery decorations, etc. Much like Mickey and the gang I think Disney has blandified Pooh into the pre-preschooler market.

  • mickey as in ‘runaway brain’ will be able to do something on box office.
    different solution/especially epic mickey/-no.

  • Austen Davis

    I kept hearing rumors that veteran animator Burny Mattinson pitched a movie starring Mickey Mouse, but I can’t find anyone who can confirm or debunk it.

    • Brandon Pierce

      At least 10 years ago there was talk of a “Search for Mickey Mouse” movie that was supposed to feature many different Disney characters in roles, but nothing’s ever come of that.

      • Mad Dog

        I heard that same rumor too years ago, but didn’t turn out to be just the creation of the Kingdom Hearts video games?

  • Darkblader

    I should share this quote from the youtube user OriginalGagBonkerss(who created the facebook group to help out Winnie the pooh) what he shared with me this morning after he found out about the numbers. This quote is from a message with him on youtube.

    “The only reason why Winnie the pooh is at those numbers is because the Disney marketers want hand-drawn animation to end. What else is needed to be said? They messed up Princess and the frog by putting it up agaisnt idiotic mutant looking chipmunks and smurfs. If Disney’s marketing people did care about hand-drawn animation, they’d think twice about doing it! Now they want to sell themselves out by putting it up with films that we animation fans know is likely to be more successful then the hand-drawn feature. And they would rather focus more on CG then hand-drawn animation. I really cant help but think that the Mickey mouse feature will likely be forced as a CG feature.”

    • ferp

      I’m not one to jump into the conspiracy bandwagon, but it’s been twice now that a hand-drawn feature has been put up against a record breaking movie. Not just any movies. Biggest grossing/opening day records on the planet movies. Either this was done on purpose, or someone has to be fired. Or more like arrested, because what is happening here is criminal, and it’s f***ed up that the only glimmer of hand-drawn animation in American cinema is smothered thanks to a deliberate sabotaging via release dates and mediocre marketing.

      Additionally, I’m sure if this movie required 3D glasses and needed $98 dollars per ticket, we’d see something higher than $8 mil.

      So when will we see the next handdrawn film out of Disney? When Avatar 2 comes out! HEY, I SHOULD WORK IN MARKETING!

      • New Disney Executive

        This is the guy in charge:

        Thanks for throwing this one under the bus Disney. I guess they do want 2D to go away. Sabotage!

        However as Amid points out, this is actually a success is some ways but I think Disney might just have played this one safe. Zero on advertising, and it’s Winnie the Pooh, iconic character!

        Well have to wait and see what Disney does next.

      • Gene

        Who cares If Disney does 2D or not? There’s certainly no “conspiracy.”. I just want them to wake up and make some great films–2D or not.

      • anomynous

        To New Disney Executive up there, that’s the same guy who called the closure of Vault Disney on the Disney Channel. He and Anne Sweeney together made Disney Channel unwatchable to everyone but the preteens, I think he’s trying to give the whole company the same tween influence as the Disney Channel. Well, not under John Lassater’s watch, he won’t.

  • as a new yorker, continually bombarded with advertising and having recently been in toy stores in and around roc center with visitors; i can safely say i saw no advertising for this pooh movie. especially not in comparison with that of cars. that said i think it’s earnings are pretty solid albeit not astronomical.

    plus…i would imagine it’s difficult to compete with harry potter.

  • I remember not to far back, it was announced a film based on Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom was announced, and Mickey was going to play an important part.

    It is a shame that Disney’s mascot and world’s most beloved character has never had his very own full length animated feature.
    If they do it, so they should Mickey the rapscallion he used to be.
    And make it like Ruanaway Brain, because that was awesome.

    • 2011 Adult

      Haven’t you heard? Runaway Brain doesn’t exist! Careful, or you’ll upset the whole company!

  • dbenson

    I think Mark Evanier had a post to the effect that a major Mickey Mouse project has always been unlikely simply because so many different branches of the corporation have a stake in the mouse’s image.

    Note that “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”, “Prince and the Pauper” and “The Three Musketeers” hewed very, very closely to the postwar “classic” Mickey, Goofy and Donald, as did the “Mouseworks” and “House of Mouse” programs — the characters didn’t conflict with theme park costumes, existing merchandise, etc. The scrappy adolescent Mickey of the 30’s or the adventurer in European comics are a whole different deal, in design and characterization.

    Note also that the “Disney Afternoon” shows were extremely careful about the “Fab Five”: “DuckTales” pointedly kept Donald Duck off camera aside from a few guest shots. When they finally felt secure enough to do Goofy and Donald, they kept the characters in classic mode (even if the shows around them were a bit more adventurous) and continued to avoid the mouse until the aggressively traditional “Mouseworks.”

  • Two things: The only ad I saw on television came during a Yankees game. I’m not sure that was the appropriate audience to whome they should have been advertising.

    As for the grosses, keep in mind that TANGLED cost $260 million, CARS 2 cost $200 million, and WINNIE THE POOH cost $30 million. IT’s a lot easier to recoup that negative cost and since they’ve already grossed $14,500,00 worldwide, they’re well on their way.

    Disney will still write it off as a loss, but will reap a fortune on the toys, books, and other merchandising. Essentially they’ll make more off this than off CARS 2 just by revitalizing the brand.

  • Geneva

    I don’t know if they count, but there have been a couple of feature efforts with Mickey in a lead role (Prince and the Paper, and more recently the Three Musketeers). I really liked Pauper as a kiddo, actually.

    I honestly can’t think of a good reason Disney would have to put Pooh opening against Potter. And I second the lack of advertisement… I specifically seek out news on animated stuff and had totally forgotten about Pooh until my friend said “oh, wow, I didn’t realize Winnie the Pooh was already coming out this weekend!” just a week ago. There was some promotional to-do at the actual theater I went to (a large cardboard display, a banner), but I was just inundated with the announcement of Cars 2’s release…

  • Disney blew it by not arranging a theatrical release of Donovan Cook’s DTV feature THE THREE MUSKETEERS, starring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and especially BLACK PETE. It was well-made, very funny and succeeded at making the characters feel contemporary.

  • As corporate obligations go this was a very nice one.

  • They could easily make Mickey shorts that are paired with Disney live action films but for some reason they don’t do it. Very frustrating.

    On another note, I was fortunate to have seen a very rare full theatrical presentation of The Three Musketeers starring Mickey, Donald and Goofy.

    • Brandon Pierce

      A Mickey, Donald and Goofy short was in production a few years ago, but then it got cancelled. I don’t know if it had anything to do with Wayne Allwine’s death though.

  • Mark Sonntag

    I worked on The Three Musketeers in layout and the story reel we worked off were quite different from the final. Quite a bit of stuff was cut out to shorten it I think, stuff I felt helped the story along more. It was a lot of fun to do though.

    If they do do another Mickey I hope it’s 2D animation not 3D. I can’t stand the classic characters as 3D models . . . but that’s just me. And I do like 3D animation.

  • We can neither confirm or deny a Mickey Mouse feature film is in the works.

    • Which is code for “it is currently in the works”.

      If it wasn’t currently in the works, you would not have commented at all.

    • Bud

      I doubt you could do either.

  • Pooh is not the greatest classic ever made but it’s probably equal in quality to Cars 2, or maybe a little bit better. And this time the Pixar movie is not more ‘for adult audiences’ than the Disney one.

    Pooh actually has a little more charm in it than Cars 2, though Pixar’s movie isn’t as bad as critics make it look either. Except for a couple of Mater jokes that are a little dumb or tasteless, the movie is entertaining and has some clever details in its plot.

    Anyway Pooh may sell a lot of merchandise but it’s not surprise to me that something that is so simple and low key as Winnie The Pooh would not make as much money as Harry Potter’s final chapter (of course) or even Cars 2, which may not be liked by critics, but it’s still more packed with action and spectacle.

  • Also, I really want to see a Mickey Mouse movie.

    I’m not a fan of videogames but the little I’ve seen of Epic Mickey wasn’t so amusing. Some aspects of the concept were interesting but well…it just didn’t seem to have a lot of humor or charm. Gottfredson’s stories were sometimes dark and adventurous but there was fun and charm in them.

    I thought Runaway Brain was spectacular, though. Prince And The Pauper was quite good. And The Three Musketeers wasn’t bad for a direct to dvd release.

    I’d actually like a Donald Duck movie even more, with Donald’s nephews too, but probably Donald will be in the Mickey movie too.

    But how about another ‘DuckTales’ movie with Donald in it and closer to the tone of Carl Barks’ or Don Rosa’s comics? That would be so awesome!

    • Richie

      I’d donate every single one of my vital organs for a hand-drawn animated series loyal to the works of Barks, Rosa, Van Horn, Scarpa and so many others…

    • Why the need to tie such a thing explicitly into “DuckTales”?

      • Nah, I called DuckTales just as an expression. I also think it shouldn’t be called DuckTales or have any relation to it (not that DuckTales was terrible, but it wasn’t exactly classic material).

        I guess they didn’t use Donald too much in DuckTales cause it’s difficult to understand his dialogue. I remember they did a ‘DuckTales’ pilot/tv movie with Donald and Launchpad McQuack was constantly saying that he couldn’t understand a word of what Donald was trying to say.

        Carl Barks stories are more plot driven than most of Donald’s adventures in the big screen, but, if Donald could be the star of Three Caballeros with a little help of his friends Jose Carioca and Panchito, he could also be in a movie with his nephews and Uncle Scrooge.

  • anonymous

    Cars 2 was produced and global merchandising sales benefited, next came Winnie the Pooh and this too will have executives smiling. A mickey mouse feature is the next logical step from this company wanting to make money.

    I would be excited seeing mickey having his own screen time ( or even oswald for that matter) Let’s hope they get it right.

  • Mark, I saw those early story reels, too — hilarious! My understanding is that Sharon Morrill said the early version of THREE MUSKETEERS was “too funny”, I kid you not.

    • Bud

      And we ALL know what “smarts” and “good taste” sharon morrill had…

  • 2011 Adult

    I hope their next 2D film will take place in Mickey’s universe. With Mort now out of their plans, they have yet to reveal anything beyond another CG feature.

    Also, you guys failed to post my review for the Winnie The Pooh talkback.

  • Ethan

    You didn’t link to your source this time, but assuming it’s your usual boxofficemojo, they had these facts for the weekend which you forgot to mention:

    Cars 2 began trailing Ratatouille in terms of gross, not just attendance, for a 12-year Pixar low.

    Cars 2 fell 52 percent from 28 territories.
    Kung Fu Panda 2 cruised past the original Kung Fu Panda.

    From other sources, end-of-run estimate are over 650M for Kung Fu Panda 2, with a staggering 25-75 domestic-foreign split. I can blame Americans, I have proofs now :-)

  • The Gee

    I don’t have a horse in the race but from what others have mentioned, the latest Pooh flick was released overseas months ago. So, that makes the US release date seem sacrificial lamb-like.
    I’m not sure what Aug/Sept hold for Disney, probably PG-13 live action, but it seems like they could not have done worse releasing it later than now.

    But, it will totally make its budget back and then some. That’s a given. It’s just too bad it didn’t get a chance to make some of that back during a domestic Summer release instead of DVDs by Xmas.

    As for slipping out a Mickey feature: if it happens, hope it is good; it’d be cool if it were hand-drawn; great if it is funny.

  • Not Harrison Ford

    Is there a list of all of the top character franchises and there earnings?

  • James E. Parten

    “Disney wants 2-D (Hand-Drawn) animation to end”?

    As Mater might say “Gimme a brake–and you can check the oil while you’re at it!”

    I’d have thought that “Winnie The Pooh” would have done a little better than it did. But it was up against not only the “Harry Potter” juggernaut, but holdover biz for the latest “Transformers” movie.

    Disney did a fair amount of advertising for “Winnie The Pooh”, not only on television, but in billboards and on buses and bus benches.

    I cannot help but wonder if some of the accusations of conspiracy are not the work of out-of-work animators who would love to have the cachet of working for the Mouse House.

    • John A

      They had the whole summer to choose a suitable release date and they pick the same weekend as Harry Potter. It seems very suspicious.

      As for a Mickey feature, I’ve been wanting to see one for years. I think the rest of the public wants it too. Whenever Mickey makes a “return” to Disneyland with attractions like Mickey’s Toon Town and Fantasmic, audience response has been wildly enthusiastic.

      In my opinion, the Three Musketeers was a huge opportunity wasted. If they had made it a real feature, they could have backed it up with special merchandise, A big movie premiere, Special Park events, maybe even some kind of tie-in with Three Musketeers candy bars. They could have really gone big, but instead they just made it just another video release. A shame.

  • RupanIII

    Have been reading great things about Pooh (most recently Armond White’s glowing review –, going to have to check it out. If all the praise is true, how refreshing that an elegant hard-drawn feature can still make it to the big screen these days.

    • Bud

      armond white is one of the sleaziest and inaccurate “reviewers” alive. I enjoyed the Pooh cartoon enough, but it’s not a “great” movie, and referring to his review as something worth anything is just plain SILLY!!

      • RupanIII

        I always read stuff like this, he seems so hated. Is it just because he doesn’t like Pixar? I know he’s controversial, but I haven’t read a whole lot of his stuff, only when I happen to come across it, so I don’t know the full history/details here. What’s he done exactly?

        I mentioned the review because it noted an emphasis on text and books in the movie. In an increasingly digital and illiterate age, I thought this was interesting, and probably not something mentioned in many other reviews.

        I vaguely recall that he liked Transformers? which does seem a bit off, but I can’t remember reading anything too crazy or offensive. What I have read was certainly more interesting than most banal PR company reviews these days. He likes the Nouvelle Vague and thinks that movies have become rather nihilistic.. that was my impression.. perhaps there’s something much more objectionable that I haven’t come across?

  • Pooh out grossed Cars on a per screen average and cost less, some how that must count for something.

    It’s also been kicking around screens around the world for the last six months…which has lead to several parents I know here in New York with friends over seas to hesitate paying full movie prices for an hour long film because their friends told them its a great movie but relatively short. In todays economy would you take your family to see something thats an hour and end up paying 40 or 50 bucks?

    Personally I loved the film but I really had to think about whether to plunk down money for an hour long film.

  • MM

    As long as Disney keep bringing the Ghibli films to the west I’m not too worried about their own 2D animations, the last one I really enjoyed from them was ‘Lilo and Stitch’. I’m surprised Mickey is still such a big earner though, he seems like such a bland character when compared to more modern cartoon favourites.

  • Mac

    I so hope they make a really fantastic Mickey Mouse feature. The MouseWorks and House of Mouse series from about ten years ago weren’t perfect, but a lot of fun stuff was done with the characters and some of it was very funny. I’ve seen a few people say they’d like a movie of Epic Mickey. It had a great story for a video game, but I’d hate to see that kind of a story in a movie. Recreating a ton of old cartoons, characters and theme park rides is really fun to play through, but so much self referential stuff would get old for me in any movie that wasn’t a documentary with clips. I’d like to see a Mickey film where you don’t already have to be a Disney fan and recognise a lot of its history to enjoy it.

    I did think Mickey’s Three Musketeers film was good for a DTV, but no where near as great as I’d expect for the feature length debut of Disney’s signature characters. It’s interesting to read in these comments, as I have elsewhere, that a lot of jokes had been cut. Still, if there’s a new Mickey feature in development I do hope Pete plays a role – in recent years he’s become one of the funniest Disney characters.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    On the subject of a projected Mickey Mouse feature,around 10 years ago there was talk of Disney making a movie called ‘The Search For Mickey’ in which Mickey mysteriously disappears and Bernard & Bianca (from The Rescuers movies),Darkwing Duck and Basil (from The Great Mouse Detective) went searching for him. Along the way we would meet characters from every Disney animated feature (and also from live-action/animated hybrids like Bedknobs & Broomsticks,Pete’s Dragon,and maybe Roger Rabbit)in looking for Mickey. I know I would have paid to see THAT movie!

    I still would love to see a third Rescuers movie though. It’s a pity Bernard & Bianca aren’t as popular as Pooh and the gang.

    • Lovely—a Mickey movie in which he barely appears, and then only as a captured victim.

      While we’re at it, why do all those other characters care about Mickey? Do some of them even know he exists, apart from in doofy, shallow Toontown “continuity” in which everyone knows everyone and inexplicably lives in the same region/time frame?

      • 2011 Adult

        That’s probably why they ultimately chucked that concept.

  • Darkblader

    Was there any given reason why “The Search For mickey” was canceled? My brother told me it was planned out as the 50th animated feature film from Disney before Tangled.

  • How long until Dreamworks snatches up all the 2D talent and puts out another 2D film, catching Disney with their pants down so to speak? I’d love to see Deja, Goldberg, and the rest end up somewhere that seems to appreciate artistic talent.

    • Funkybat

      I’d love to see Dreamworks do 2D again, but I doubt they ever will as long as Katzenberg is in charge. He and many other executives still view 2D animation as passe and that 3D inherently holds more promise as a storytelling medium. Trying to change people’s minds about this is difficult, especially when money is involved. The only way to convince execs to greenlight 2D again is to have a competitor make a bundle, and fast, on a 2D film. But if no 2D films are being made, or those that are made are undermarketed or released up against direct competitors….well, chicken, egg, all that rot……

      The Road to El Dorado was an amazingly beautiful movie, even if the story was kind of loosey-goosey. The Prince of Egypt was probably the last 2D film DW did that gave them any kind of hope for the medium. After El Dorado and Spirit both failed to be the next “Lion King,” the writing was on the wall for DW 2D. I suppose, given enough time that could change, but I’m pretty sure Jeffrey doesn’t want to “waste time & money” with 2D again.

  • Harper

    Another choice of story for a Mickey Mouse movie would be Kingdom Hearts…

  • The Gee

    You know what that “Search for Mickey” concept sounds like?

    A TV special showcasing a themepark where costumed characters complete with appropriate Voice Overs scour the park trying to find the main character whom they will find. But, they will only find him after showcasing all the attractions, especially the newest one, and after involving as many characters as possible in the search.

    Now, Ideally. This concept would end with “Hahaha. I was right here all along. I was just waiting for my cue when I locked myself in the freezer! Hahaha.” Of course there would be no sheepish grin because it is a masked with a frozen expression of Glee.

    But, you need an antagonist and you only have about 40 minutes to kill in the story so Mickey would be mouse-knapped by Something or Another….say, Animatronic Abe Lincoln.

    What it doesn’t sound like is a good plot for an animated feature featuring one of the most popular fictional characters in the world.

    • Hilarious comment.

      Though I’m undecided whether The Search Of Mickey was a good or a bad idea.

      In fact, it’s not so terribly different to Epic Mickey, which is also highly inspired on references to other shorts or obscure characters.

      Or maybe I just want to see Basil again. I dislike sequels for Disney classics so I wouldn’t really want a “Basil 2”, but I wouldn’t mind Basil being one of the main characters in a concept like Search Of Mickey. It would be a little like Jiminy Cricket presenting ‘Fun and Fancy Free’.

      But anyway, my main problem with the concept is what David Gerstein said. Considering he would have been captured, Mickey wouldn’t be the main character of his own movie.

  • Hooper

    Way back in 1995, I was hearing about a planned-but-ultimately-scrapped Mickey, Donald and Goofy feature titled “Swabbies”, in which the boys join the Navy (a la the Bill Murray movie “Stripes”). Anyone else know anything about that?

    • John A

      I didn’t hear anything about that, although I have heard about “Morgan’s Ghost”, the Feature they were working on in the ’40s. I’d love to see them make that one, even if if means yet another Pirate film.

      Reportedly,after the project was shelved, Carl Barks reworked the storyline for Donald and the Nephews in the comics as “Donald Duck finds Pirate Gold”.

  • If a Mickey movie is really at works please put some experienced Disney comics writers on this. There’s a few of them right here on this topic.

    • snip2346

      Oh man, comic fans are a vicious bunch! Disney better know what they’re doing if they’re working on something like that.

  • I would like to see something with the characters just being ‘themselves’. The trick of introducing Mickey, Donald and Goofy in some famous legend or story worked pretty well in Musketeers and Prince and the Pauper. But something with the three guys going on their own adventures in modern days, I feel that would be more special. Even though it sounds like some sort of dumb comedy I wouldn’t mind that “Swabbies” idea. Something supernatural would be pretty cool too. Ghosts and mad doctors always worked in Mickey Mouse shorts and comics.

    • Funkybat

      In reference to the “contemporary dumb comedy/adventure” idea; I would worry that some “clever” higher-up would try to turn it into a watered-down version of “The Hangover” starring the Disney Trinity (minus the substance abuse, of course.) I wouldn’t mind seeing something like that created as a subversive indie/fan animation, but never as a Disney Feature.

  • andreas Wessel-Therhorn

    Both Winnie the Pooh and Nessie were absolutely charming. I smiled all the way through.Whether Cars 2, which was loud, brash and charmfree,outperformed it,is neither here nor there.