Pixar’s Up Not Commercial Enough, Claim Jerks

Here we go again! In advance of next month’s Up — which will almost certainly be another perfect, hugely successful addition to Pixar’s spotless filmography and will probably spark another debate over why animated movies can’t win Oscars for Best Picture — Wall Street and toy manufacturers are concerned about the film’s commercial prospects, reports today’s Times. “The worries keep coming despite Pixar’s track record,” says some blowhard from an investment bank, “because each film it delivers seems to be less commercial than the last.”

At issue, as usual, is the lack of a cuddly protagonist (Up stars a morbidly obese boy scout and a grouchy 78-year-old who fly to South America together in a balloon-powered house): “We doubt younger boys will be that excited by the main character,” says a joy hater from Pali research who’s also concerned about the lack of a female lead. Thinkway, the company responsible for all of Pixar toys going back to Toy Story, will apparently not create a single Up-related item, and Disney Stores will only stock tie-in products “on a limited basis,” say analysts.

The Times also points out that Wall-E and Ratatouille have been Pixar’s worst performing movies ever, earning only $224 million and $216 million, respectively.

Most worrisome of all, though, is Pixar’s galling commitment to making quality films regardless of what investors think:

Perhaps Wall Street would not care so much if Pixar seemed to care a little more. The co-director of Up, Pete Docter — who also directed Monsters Inc. — said in a recent question and answer session with reporters that the film’s commercial prospects never crossed his mind. “We make these films for ourselves,” he said. “We’re kind of selfish that way.”

Outrageous! Honestly, though, if anyone’s earned the right to ignore focus groups, it’s Pixar. Even though this argument seems to come up every time they make a movie, we sort of didn’t expect it this time. Doesn’t Up also feature an adorable talking dog, for godsakes? And what does it say about our society when we’re worried that audiences might find an elderly hero less sympathetic than a rat and a garbage-disposal robot?

Come on, Wall Street — this is the same noxious thinking that ruined all the other movie studios. Leave Pixar alone!

Pixar’s Art Leaves Profit Watchers Edgy [NYT]

Pixar’s Up Not Commercial Enough, Claim Jerks