November 26, 2007

The $64 Question [8:55 am]

What other clever ideas around these characters have been lost because of Disney’s claim on them, and because of its need for “brand management” through the use of cultural icons? The Line Between Homage and Parody

Yes, Disney made this movie. Creating a hit was the primary goal, but this $50 million film also serves the company’s continuing effort to find clever ways to make its animated icons more accessible. Since Disney doesn’t exactly lay out its playbook, “Enchanted” offers a rare window into the company’s thinking about how one of the world’s most powerful brands is best managed.

When Robert A. Iger took over as chief executive two years ago, one question was how his Disney would approach a portfolio of franchises spanning from the 1920s (Mickey Mouse) to today (Buzz Lightyear). Would he keep the classics in one corner and the new guys in another? Mix everybody up and give Tinker Bell a new hairdo? Or find a way to bridge the gap?

[...] Modifying the classics, much less poking fun at them, has long topped the sacrilegious list at Disney — something that has served the company well. Tight control of its characters has allowed Disney to build a $35.5 billion theme park, consumer products and cable television business on their backs. Cinderella, to put it mildly, is one hard-working woman.

[...] “You have to hand it to Disney for making fun of some of their iconic moments,” said Ms. Sarandon in a television interview.

BUT this is still Disney. The studio nixed scenes that it felt crossed the line into crass. For instance, a run-in between Giselle and a hooker was cut, Mr. Josephson said, and a scene where three poisoned apples magically appear in a toilet was rewritten; they now appear in a soup pot.

And Disney executives, it should be noted, do not necessarily agree with Ms. Sarandon’s word choice. “It’s not a parody and it’s not making fun of anything,” Mr. Cook said. “It’s a giant love letter to Disney classics.”

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