Kids. Go Figure

Disney gets spanked

People, a little sympathy for the Mouse.

Treasure Planetpulled in another $5.7 million last weekend, giving it $23.8 million in its first two weeks of release, which would be great if it was an independent film about a slightly overweight Greek lady pirate and her wacky Greek pirate family. Unfortunately, Treasure Planet is Disney's holiday animation offering, and $23 million just doesn't play—$23 million is what you make opening weekend . . . if it rains. Treasure Planet's $5.7 million was just slightly more than Disney's other current offering, The Santa Clause 2, which made $5.4 million but has been out a month longer. Treasure Planet has been such a disaster that Disney will have to adjust its year-end revenue projections down anywhere from $50 million to $75 million.

All this despite Disney's typical marketing blitz mix of commercials; songs; and product and fast food tie-ins. For years, Disney made this all look so simple that it may have seemed that way. But Treasure Planet proves that while kids are a marketing plum, they're also an exceedingly sophisticated bunch when it comes to media and entertainment, and they will not tolerate being sold something by someone who seems really interested in them buying.

Take Jimmy Naylor, 10, standing in front of the Mann Pierside Pavilion in Huntington Beach. So, was Jimmy there to see Treasure Planet?

"Nah."

Why?

"It's too exaggerated. You know, like with the solar surfing. Too exaggerated," said Jimmy, whose favorite movie this year is Scooby Doo, you know, the talking dog that solves crimes.

"[Treasure Planet] is too much," said Jimmy's friend, Kevin Uhle, 9, who had really wanted to see Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights, but his mother wouldn't let him. "[Treasure Planet] was, like, you know, they were just trying too hard to make it all so . . ."

Extreme?

"Yeah, well kinda like that. It's just . . ."

Contrived?

"Yeah . . . What's that?"

Like they'll do anything to try and make you go and see the movie, including playing down to a bunch of flat, preconceived notions about what kids want based on focus groups and youth consultants?

"Yeah, like that. I don't like that."

Then Kevin and Jimmy went to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets—it of the multi-, multimillion-dollar marketing budget—for the third time.

 
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