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Ratatouille, Tinker Bell problems?; NIMH DVD!

I am astounded and humbled at how well my piece on the Disney art exhibition in Paris has been welcomed online – thanks especially to Mike Barrier and Didier Ghez for making very enthusiastic mentions of it on their respective blogs and to the many other people who have been linking to our site in regards to that report. It’s certainly heartening to see that it was worth all the time and effort I put in to getting it right!

Well, what’s new for us today?

• The ubiquitous Jim Hill Media is suggesting that Disney is “worried” about how to market Ratatouille. But I actually think they’re off to a great start, with a teaser that’s been playing for months now and is still getting laughs. I also think they’re on to a winner for the plain, simple reason that Ratatouille is an unknown quantity.

Sure, Flushed Away underperformed, partly as expected, but since when has that had any impact on a similar film’s box office? Think Antz/A Bug’s Life, Road To El Dorado/Emperor’s New Groove or even the live-action Deep Impact/Armageddon stand-offs from a few years ago.

Nope, Ratatouille‘s main problems – apart from an overly clever title that actually has to be spelled out phonetically on the trailer and poster – is the return of John McClane and a couple of killer franchise pictures: the extremely highly anticipated Transformers and the new Harry Potter. Disney shouldn’t be concerned in the slightest about Shrek 3, nor clashing with their own sure to be blockbuster third Pirates outing for Jack Sparrow and co, but putting out a quirky family comedy about a rat in a French restaurant between such behemoth sequels as Die Hard and Potter is insane, not to mention coming so soon after Sony’s Surf’s Up, which could feed on the totally unpredicted popularity of surprise smash Happy Feet.

Whatever happened to keeping back the “special” films until Christmas? This past holiday was especially flat, for me personally. There wasn’t a decent Disney out, nor a magical series film like a Rings, Narnia or Potter. James Bond, though exciting and surprisingly fresh, came and went about a month too early, leaving the door wide open for George Miller’s dancing penguins to steal the limelight. For me, the best film of the season came right at the end: Night At The Museum, which I do urge you to see before it creeps out of theaters. What a fun, simply entertaining picture…wait! The kind like Disney used to put out at that time of year!

tink-pose.jpg• I also read around the web today that John Lasseter doesn’t believe in fairies, at least of the Disney kind, and has pretty much strangled Tinker Bell at birth, looking for a complete overhaul on this DTV project. Actually, although the trailer I saw looked cheap, I’m not at all against the use of the character in this nicely thought out otherworld of adventures. After all, Walt himself wasn’t opposed to using Tink outside of the Peter Pan universe.

I think fairies could fly if done right, and hope that Lasseter can see the value in the proposed franchise. Who knows, maybe we have a Toy Story 2 situation here where the resulting film could be deemed suitable enough for a trip to the theaters?

Maybe for a Christmastime release!?

• Finally this morning, we’ve got the good news that Don Bluth‘s first feature, The Secret Of NIMH, has been appraised as a suitable candidate for special edition treatment on DVD after the vanilla MGM disc screwed up the color timing. Fox Home Entertainment, who now distribute the MGM catalog, have been making a very nice habit of going back to their earliest DVD releases and issuing them again with stunning new transfers and unexpected bonus features, and it seems they’re prepared to do the same for their MGM pickups. Of course, this comes after decent sales of their other Bluth property, the Anastasia Family Fun Edition, and hopefully it might mean that Fox continues to mine both companies’ inventories for updated DVDs. It’s certainly about time we saw a nice restored print of Bluth’s Banjo The Woodpile Cat, a derivative but cute melding of some AristoCats and Lady And The Tramp elements that serve up a fun half hour outing. Perhaps, since it was the short that led to the securing of funds to make NIMH, it could be featured as an extra on that upcoming title? Nice!

– Ben.

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