Walt Disney Pictures

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We’ve all felt it — that innate sense of happy that comes from consuming anything Disney. A vanilla ice cream bar with a chocolate coating tastes like vanilla ice cream with a chocolate coating. At least, until you mold it into the shape of Mickey Mouse’s face, then it tastes like a a smiling, satisfied inner child. We may never be able to explain the ice cream part (either it’s because Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream is only sold in Disney Parks, or because they’re lacing the vanilla with heroin) but we can at least explain how it works with Disney movies. What is it about a Disney film that so consistently gives us the warm and fuzzies? Is it just nostalgia? Well, yes and no. If we look to the Disney films of the late ’80s through the ’90s — commonly referred to as the Disney Renaissance – a pattern emerges. A formula, if you will.


Sony Pictures

Once upon a time, Johnny Depp was a reasonably sane actor with only a few zany hats in his personal collection. Once upon a time, the name “Pirates of the Caribbean” conjured up animatronic seafarers, skeletons guarding plastic treasure and that skipping track playing “yo-ho yo-ho” over and over in a dark tunnel until it was time to leave and get a delicious churro. That all changed in 2003 when Disney realized turning their park rides into movies was a valid business venture (thanks for the Haunted Mansion memories, Eddie Murphy), and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was born. Four movies — and Depp staggering around doing his best Keith Richards impression (and an actual Keith Richards eventually too) — later we can now look forward to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. It’s certainly about time that they used that phrase, isn’t it? It’s the first warning you get while taking your dingy down the river into the tunnels of Disney’s most treacherous ride, and it’s definitely worth heeding. And now, the person likely to be putting that motto into practice for Captain Jack Sparrow in Depp’s fifth go-round as the drunkest, cunningest commander of the high seas, is noted portrayer of villains, Javier Bardem.


Dolphin Boy

And now for something entirely different. Variety reports (via ComingSoon) that Walt Disney Pictures have picked up the film rights to Dani Menkin and Yonatan Nir‘s 2011 documentary Dolphin Boy in order to turn it into a narrative feature. Dolphin Boy, you say, that sounds charming! A boy and his dolphins! Swimming free! Free Willy with dolphins, nature’s smartest aquatic creature! Aww! Wrong. The synopsis for the original film doesn’t shy away from tossing out terms that we might necessarily associate with the House of Mouse – terms like “violent attack,” “before hospitalization in a mental institution,” “devastating havoc that human violence can wreak upon the human soul,” and more! I’m devastated just reading about this film. If you’re into having your soul pulled out through your throat, the doc’s full synopsis reads as such: Morad – a teenager from an Arab village in the north of Israel disconnects himself from humans following a violent attack that he experienced. As a last resort before hospitalization in a Mental Institution, he is taken by his devoted father to be treated with Dolphins in Eilat. Morad starts speaking again after months of silence, but he erases his past and refuses to go home to his awaiting mother. This documentary about the devastating havoc that human violence can wreak upon the human soul, and about the healing powers of nature and of love, was filmed over the course of the past four years. Not wrenching enough for you? Check out the trailer for […]


Industrial Light and Magic

Though it’s definitely the biggest and most immediate piece of news, there’s more going on with Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm than just the release of Episode 7. For starters…


Disney Buys LucasFilm

Huge breaking news on the West Coast this afternoon from the Disney. Not 3-years removed from buying Marvel and shaking up the world of superhero movies, Disney has apparently purchased LucasFilm for the same amount, a cool $4 billion in cash and stock. CNBC is reporting the news via Twitter: BREAKING: Disney buys Lucasfilm for $4B in cash & stock — CNBC (@CNBC) October 30, 2012


The Nightmare Before Christmas

By the time 1993 rolled around, Tim Burton already had projects like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands under his belt, and had firmly established himself as an auteur director of quirky, weird films. It was probably that year’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – a movie that Burton produced and didn’t even direct – that firmly established him as being a filmmaker with a cult of personality following, and has become his most enduring work, however. A stop-motion animated feature directed by Henry Selick (with strong creative input from Burton) and produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, The Nightmare Before Christmas mixed up Halloween and Christmas imagery in iconic ways (Mickey Mouse has his fingers in all the holiday pies), it captured the imaginations of an entire generation, and it can still be seen advertised all over the backpacks and binders of eyeliner wearing teenagers to this day. That same year another Halloween-themed family film came out of another wing of the Disney conglomerate called Hocus Pocus. But, despite that fact that it starred a trio of actresses who were fairly big names at the time, it hasn’t enjoyed nearly as much attention over the years as Nightmare. And, unless you happen to be a devotee of the movie Newsies (which I know some of you are), chances are you’ve never heard of its director, Kenny Ortega. Sure, Hocus Pocus still gets played on the Disney channel around Halloween every year, as it’s probably cheap programming for the company, but […]


news_harry potter invisible

In a move that would make Walt Disney cheer from his cryochamber, Warner Bros has announced they will halt all shipments of the Harry Potter films starting December 29th. Existing copies will be allowed to sell out, but once they’re gone the eight films will no longer be available for sale. Per Deadline Azkaban, WB is taking a page from the Disney playbook and pulling all eight films from circulation on that date. It doesn’t appear that they’ll actually remove unsold product from store shelves but instead will just stop shipping new orders. What’s interesting is that the final film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, doesn’t hit shelves until November 11th, meaning it will only be available for six weeks before the moratorium starts. Obviously WB will flood stores with copies of the title, so no one should worry about not finding it for sale, but this window of availability is incredibly small for such a major title. Like Disney has done repeatedly with their animated titles, WB is hoping to increase demand for the franchise by decreasing the supply. My guess is next November will see a marketing blitz announcing special editions, box sets, and more available for a limited time only. There’s little chance this will backfire for the studio, but will it actually increase sales? Is the draw of the series the same as it is for classic Disney films like Dumbo and The Lion King? We’ll all find out next […]



What is Movie News After Dark? It is a nightly film industry news column dedicated to hacking away with the precision of a drunkenly wielded axe at the world of entertainment news. It has lopped off a few heads in its day, so keep your eye on it. We begin tonight with an image from the special Fright Night event held at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin last night. In attendance were McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Anton Yelchin and Dave Franco, who looks just a little bit less stoned than his brother James. They made people drink other people’s blood and whatnot. Photo by Jack Plunkett



After the nadir that was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, it was clear that the most lucrative movie franchise of the new millennium needed some freshening up. So, out (reportedly by their own choosing) went director Gore Verbinski and co-stars Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. In their stead, new helmer Rob Marshall is relied upon for his eye for grandiose theatrical imagery and staging, while Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane are meant to add spice and character to the proceedings. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is, well, Captain Jack. Yet On Stranger Tides, the fourth Pirates flick, proves an age-old maxim: the more things change, the more they stay the same. However much the franchise has cosmetically shifted, the new picture is rooted in the familiar: Supernatural-tinged storytelling, murkily-shot battles fought against pristine backdrops, colonial-era costumes and the admittedly unforgettable protagonist, who has become an icon thanks to Depp’s epicene, offbeat take. It is by now a tired formula, rendered in such a way that emotional investment is muted and the more adventuresome aspects are diluted by their adherence to this static aesthetic. Character and atmosphere are sacrificed to spectacle, and the spectacle — sprightly chases, dull sword fights and sweeping, zooming shots of the lush Caribbean sea/countryside — has worn down.



With the exit of Disney studio chief Dick Cook, a few projects that were once on the fast track would ultimately be left behind in the wake of change. Enter the first victim, the McG directed Captain Nemo: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.



In the mid-1930s, Walt Disney put down his pens and pencils to head to South America to battle Nazis. While completely misleading, that sentence is factually accurate, and there’s a documentary coming out Friday to fill in the details. Check out the trailer inside.



We kick our Monday news cycle off this week with some potentially magical, marvelous news that already has the internet calling for a Mickey Mouse version of Spider-Man.



Today, the guys over at Ain’t It Cool got a tip from a reader that George Clooney has been sniffing around the now ramping up production of The Lone Ranger.


A guaranteed classic, no. However, I did leave the theatre wishing I had paid more attention in history class.


The second installment of what will probably be a twenty-three-movie cash cow picks up after the charm of finding the last treasure has worn off.


They say that time heals all wounds. Well, apparently it heals mediocre movies as well.


New on DVD for all you Benjamin Franklin Gates wanna-be’s is the 2-Disc Collectors edition of the surprisingly successful and just sequeled National Treasure.

Nathan Deen


Movie Reviews By Nate Deen on November 26, 2007 | Comments (10)

With high-quality pictures already released this year such as “Bridge to Terabithia,” and “Ratatouille,” along with the mildly recommendable “Meet the Robinsons” and “The Game Plan,” and now “Enchanted,” it has been a good year for Disney indeed.

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published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.27.2015

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