by James Coulter
When I started this column three years ago, I intended to share my experiences at Walt Disney World. However, my focus inevitably shifted from solely the Disney Parks and more toward the Disney company as a whole by incorporating reviews about Disney movies.
My decision to review Disney films was twofold. First—and admittedly, selfishly enough—was money. After all, what’s an easier way to make some extra cash than to watch a movie and write about what you liked and did not like about it? If you’re putting down money for a movie ticket (especially with inflation these days), you might as well make some money back.
Secondly, and most importantly, I feel it’s impossible to properly discuss Disney World without talking about Disney movies. After all, most of the rides and attractions are based on movies. Not only would incorporating film reviews help provide greater context to my discussions about the parks, but it would also help prompt discussion about movie franchises with the greatest potential for rides and attractions.
For example, it’s no secret Encanto has become hugely popular, becoming one of the most streamed movies on Disney Plus last year, and with its song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” becoming one of the most played. So, it’s no surprise Disney is currently considering creating an entire themed land and attraction based on the animated flick.
Then there’s Avatar: Way of Water, which, like the original Avatar film, surpassed more than a billion dollars at the box office. How much of the movie’s success can be linked to Disney’s Animal Kingdom dedicating 12 acres of its property to Avatar, thus helping the film franchise remain relevant even more than a decade after the original movie was released?
So, as you can see, it’s essential that I discuss both Disney movies and Disney parks. Disney parks are based on the movies, and more and more, Disney movies are being marketed with the potential of being turned into rides and attractions at the parks. The parks sell the movies, and the movies sell the parks. You cannot discuss one without the other.
However, recently, I’ve decided to expand my scope by reviewing movies other than those made by Disney. So why talk about more than Disney movies in a column dedicated to all things Disney? Two reasons. First—and, again, selfishly enough—money. The more films I can review, the more money I can make.
However, most importantly, I feel you can’t discuss Disney properly or fairly without also discussing its competition. As C.S. Lewis once said, you can only call a line crooked when you compare it to a straight line. And you cannot determine how good or bad a Disney movie is without comparing it to a movie not made by Disney. After all, Disney is only as great or as bad when compared to other movies.
For example, last year was not a very good one for Disney animation. The “best” Disney animated film, arguably, was Turning Red, which was only released direct-to-streaming on Disney Plus. As for the other two films with theatrical releases, they did not fare well, either
financially or critically. Lightyear only made $226.4 million at the box office, while Strange World flopped hard earning a meager $73.4 million.
Conversely, do you know what was the highest-grossing animated movie last year? Minions: Rise of Gru, which earned $939.4 million. That’s right! The freaking annoying Minions made more money than any Disney animated film. The other highest-grossing animated films were Puss In Boots: The Last Wish at $555 million and The Bad Guys at $250.5 million. Both of them are not Disney movies.
Why is it that Disney, the great-grandfather of animation, the company so synonymous with animated movies that most animated films are often called “Disney movies”, has slipped in the box office while DreamWorks and Illumination, both owned by Universal, have risen to the top? One cannot offer a proper analysis if one merely consumes Disney movies, which is why reviewing movies other than those made by Disney proves essential.
Also, personally, reviewing the same movies by the same company can prove tiresome. After all, while eating your favorite food can be great once or twice, if you eat nothing but your favorite food every day for every meal, sooner or later, it’s going to cease being your favorite. You’re going to grow accustomed to it, and you’re going to get tired of it. You need diversity in your diet to truly appreciate the spice life has to offer.
I felt that way with Disney last year. Most of the movies it released felt bland and flavorless. Meanwhile, the movies I enjoyed reviewing the most—RRR, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish—were movies not released by the House of Mouse.
All I’m saying is that I need to consume more in my media diet. Expanding my reviews to more than Disney movies will probably be good for both you and me. (Plus, there’s a lot of good non-Disney movies that I want to watch and review. After all, it says something that the animated flick I’m most looking forward to this year is the Super Mario Movie. Then again, who doesn’t want to see the Mario movie?)
What do you think? What non-Disney movies are you anticipating this year? Let us know in the comments on Facebook.