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Why Pixar is #1 ^ | July 2, 2012 | Katie Kieffer

Posted on 07/02/2012 5:40:48 AM PDT by Kaslin

Pixar just released its 13th number one opening movie in a row, Brave . Most people associate Pixar with blockbuster animations. Most people don’t realize, however, that two of the secrets behind Pixar’s success are capitalism and clean fun.


Capitalism is the foundation that allows Pixar films to come into existence. Without a free market—where small film studios can compete with global giants—we would still be watching ho-hum Disney films. Because of capitalism, Pixar (a startup with loads of talent) was able to compete with Disney (a giant resting on its laurels) as an equal.

Steve Jobs (the late billionaire tech entrepreneur and founder of Apple, Inc.) purchased Pixar from George Lucas in 1986. Pixar had not yet made a single movie, so Jobs took a considerable risk. He invested $50 million of his own into Pixar and nurtured its animation group to the point where Disney was willing to distribute its first big-budget film, Toy Story .

A week after Toy Story’s blockbuster opening (it was the top-grossing film of 1995), Jobs took Pixar public and his shares (80 percent of Pixar) were worth $1.2 billion overnight. Pixar’s ability to merge digital technology with art revolutionized animated films in the way that Walt Disney did when he released Snow White in 1937.

In the late 80’s and 90’s, Disney’s animation studio was a mess. It was cranking out big-budget bombs and had all-but-abandoned Walt Disney’s legacy of innovation and wholesome fun. In fact, Disney almost killed Toy Story by demanding that Pixar animators make one of the heroes, Woody, a mean and jealous character. Woody’s voice, actor Tom Hanks, even exclaimed: “This guy’s a real jerk!” when he read the initial script. It was only when Disney backed off and let Pixar control the plot that Toy Story came to life.

After Pixar released subsequent blockbusters like Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo , Disney realized that it needed Pixar if it wanted to save its motion-picture business—the revenue source for its theme parks, TV programs, character toys and merchandizing. Disney purchased Pixar and allowed its animators to keep working independently at their own campus in Emeryville, CA. So, capitalism allowed the best animation studio to survive instead of getting squeezed out by the big guy.

Jobs told his autobiographer, Walter Isaacson that Pixar: “… successfully reinvented Disney’s business, turning out great films one after the other while Disney turned out flop after flop.” Jobs added, “My goal has always been not only to make great products, but to build great companies. Walt Disney did that. And the way we did the merger, we kept Pixar as a great [and independent] company and helped Disney remain one as well.”

Clean Fun

I went to see Brave on opening night and I was struck by the diversity of the crowd; young couples holding hands, groups of teens and college students, families with children and elderly people. Pixar movies do well because they attract everyone—not just kids. The “draw” for adults and teens of both genders is the combination of mind-blowing technology with unadulterated fun.

Brave is a story about the tomboyish Scottish princess Merida, a skillful archeress who fights a bear, quarrels with her mother and learns a lesson in humility. The movie is punctuated by humor that everyone can “get,” like the pranks pulled by Merida’s pastry-gobbling brothers Hamish, Hubert and Harris.

Pixar’s hits like Toy Story , Up and Brave retreat from the modern era of Shrek and return us to the time of Disney’s Snow White . Instead of plopping random pop culture references and adults-only humor into medieval fairy tales, Pixar relies on clean humor and awesome technology to tell stories.

Shrek is not kid-friendly in the same way that Toy Story and Snow White are. For example, a little boy I know answered his parents’ telephone one time by singing: “I like big butts and I cannot lie!” His embarrassed mother explained that he had just watched the swamp karaoke dance party scene in Shrek where Donkey sings Sir Mix-a-Lot’s hit single, Baby Got Back. In contrast, after Toy Story came out, I think the catchphrase was: “To infinity… and beyond!”

I think Pixar’s technology captivates the mind and the eye more immediately and enduringly than the vision of Shrek’s plumpish princess Fiona rolling in the dirt and showing off her green cleavage. As Brave’s princess Merida runs through the forest, her locks of red curls sway naturally (even individual, unruly strands are animated) and the sunlight dances through the trees and lands on her face in a true-to-life manner.

TIME reports: “ Brave is richer and more colorful than any previous computer-animated film” because Pixar keeps pushing the innovation envelope, developing technology to animate non-geometric shapes.

Pixar plays to our best instincts—the playful children we all once were and still are at heart. I think smartphone-loving teens and adults enjoy Pixar movies because they offer a high-tech dose of hope to drown out real-life disappointments. Disney, on the other hand, spent over a decade bleeding hundreds of millions on big-budget films like John Carter , Mars Needs Moms and Treasure Planet that tried too hard to create an edginess that would attract adults while neglecting to innovate in terms of animation.

Today, Pixar succeeds because it leverages the free markets to innovate clean, fun animation in the tradition of two of America’s finest entrepreneurs: Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. Now if only Washington, D.C. politicians would emulate these entrepreneurs.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: brave; hollywood; moviereview; pixar
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To: married21
Amen! I saw The Incredibles again last night and still enjoy it thoroughly. I find myself quoting Syndrome alot recently:

"And when Everyone is super, then No One will be!"

This is what I see the Libs quoting (of course, excluding themselves) and that I see this echoed in Pixar is just excellent! Love them!

21 posted on 07/02/2012 7:26:24 AM PDT by Dubh_Ghlase (Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.)
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To: HamiltonJay

Okay... I will admit that I saw Brother Bear, but only on DVD. Not a particularly good film.

However, if you want a really good laugh, get Brother Bear on DVD, and watch it with the actor/director commentary. It is absolutely hilarious! It has been a long time, but the running commentary of two of the minor characters (I think moose?) was worth the cost of the DVD rental. In fact I may do it again myself...

22 posted on 07/02/2012 7:28:39 AM PDT by LaRueLaDue
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To: Kaslin

Disney owns Pixar now.

23 posted on 07/02/2012 7:34:41 AM PDT by moviefan8
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To: HamiltonJay

That was my experience, I went in expecting to look at the technical stuff, and came out with a good story and no memory of any technical stuff.

That’s the way it should be.

24 posted on 07/02/2012 7:42:59 AM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: Kaslin
Shrek is not kid-friendly in the same way that Toy Story and Snow White are.

The whole point of naming Shrek's villain 'Farquaad' was to make it sound like 'f***wad' (which in turn was supposedly aimed at Michael Eisner). How more crass does a movie get than trying to trick young children into dropping the F-bomb?

25 posted on 07/02/2012 7:43:34 AM PDT by Sloth (If a tax break counts as "spending" then every time I don't rob a bank should be a "deposit.")
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To: moviefan8

There are suspicions that, for most practical purposes, it’s the other way ‘round.

26 posted on 07/02/2012 7:47:15 AM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals:
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To: Oberon

There is a huge difference between visually stunning and a good movie.

Cars 2 was amazingly visually stunning, but a horribly average at best film overall.

I agree with you that Treasure Planet had some amazing visuals, but it wasn’t a great film, it was mostly forgettable, which is why you can find it in the discount rack and playing on disney jr for free 3 or 4 times a month.

27 posted on 07/02/2012 7:48:28 AM PDT by HamiltonJay
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To: HamiltonJay

The last non-Pixar Disney movie that I thought was really good is ‘The Emperor’s New Groove.’ Quirky, surreal humor.

28 posted on 07/02/2012 7:50:03 AM PDT by Sloth (If a tax break counts as "spending" then every time I don't rob a bank should be a "deposit.")
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To: Sloth

IIRC, it was intended to include the usual baggage, but got so bogged down someone had the bright idea of dumping the weight and releasing the quirky surrealism therein.

29 posted on 07/02/2012 8:08:17 AM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals:
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To: Kaslin

If you’re talking about computer-animated films, I also enjoyed the Weinstein Group film “Hoodwinked”. It was another ‘mis-telling’ of a classic fairy tale, and the humor was quite modern without being rude.

My favorite scene was when the Big Bad Wolf gave his squirrel partner Twitchy his cup of coffee. The reaction of seeing an over-caffienated squirrel bouncing off trees at warp speed was hilarious. If you listen closely, as Twitchy speeds off into the distance as he runs to catch up with the good guys and get help, you can hear a muffled sonic boom.

The capper is when Big Bad (voiced hilariously by Patrick Warburton) ends the scene with “What...have I done?”

Never fails to make me bust a gut.

30 posted on 07/02/2012 8:10:13 AM PDT by hoagy62 ("Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered..."-Thomas Paine. 1776)
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To: HamiltonJay
I will say that, while Emperor's New Groove is probably Disney's funniest animated feature in the last 20 years, my family actually owns both the Toy Story films and The Incredibles.
31 posted on 07/02/2012 8:11:21 AM PDT by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
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To: moviefan8

Wonder if Disney was heavily involved in WALL-E...we HATED that movie.

32 posted on 07/02/2012 8:30:25 AM PDT by goodnesswins (What has happened to America?)
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To: Oberon
I liked Treasure Planet.

Me, too. I still sit through the DVD sometimes, when one of the kids gets it out. It has a believable annoying teenage boy, and I really like the steampunk aesthetic.

33 posted on 07/02/2012 8:34:17 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and bring me safe to His heavenly kingdom.")
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To: All

will not see brave in theaters, or dvd, or rent, will just wait for it eventually (see ) Many of the people I know who have seen it were “ehh”. They had four writers on this and it was a weak story and the comment I kept hearing from Disney fans was “brother bear II”

Pixar also made cars 2 but apparently that “oil man is the bad guy” story did not fit the article.

34 posted on 07/02/2012 8:51:06 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! and
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To: SampleMan
We rewatched The Incredibles last night.

So did I--and I was the only one still up. I don't know if I'll ever tire of watching Pixar movies.

35 posted on 07/02/2012 9:09:32 AM PDT by grellis (I am Jill's overwhelming sense of disgust.)
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To: goodnesswins

I haven’t seen WALL-E, but I did not care for Brave. Brave is about a rebellious teenager. The men are protrayed as dumb and the women are smart.

36 posted on 07/02/2012 9:44:45 AM PDT by moviefan8
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To: Izzy Dunne

That’s the real key to their success. Yeah good business decision are nice, but their building block is well realized characters in good stories. Their movies would be excellent and successful no matter their medium. Just look at their Rotten Tomato scores, outside of the Cars franchise they’re generally in the 90s.

37 posted on 07/02/2012 9:52:04 AM PDT by discostu (Listen, do you smell something?)
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To: moviefan8

When Disney acquired Pixar they put the Pixar people in charge of the animation department and basically walked away. So yeah they “own” it but they generally don’t interfere.

38 posted on 07/02/2012 9:56:56 AM PDT by discostu (Listen, do you smell something?)
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To: hoagy62

The goat stole the movie.

39 posted on 07/02/2012 12:40:25 PM PDT by Excellence (9/11 was an act of faith.)
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To: ctdonath2

Good points.

That reminded me I want to see “Puss in Boots.” I put it on the Netflix list.

40 posted on 07/02/2012 3:58:50 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and bring me safe to His heavenly kingdom.")
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