Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wall Streeters can't mind own store, so become...film critics???

Brooks Barnes reported in yesterday's New York Times that Wall Street analysts, who were unable to prognosticate the downfall of their own businesses, are now acting as film critics. They are down-grading their ratings on Disney because they don't believe the movie Up will be a hit. (Up is produced by Pixar, which Disney acquired for billions a few years back.)

And these folks are to be believed why?

Even the experts producing the movies have difficulty in forecasting the success of a film. Back in the mid 1970s, every studio in Hollywood turned down Star Wars. Fox finally took it on, but never truly believed in it; Fox was sure their big hit for 1977 would be Damnation Alley (which I'm sure you all remember). They distributed Star Wars just to have something to ride the sci-fi wave that Damnation Alley would create for them. In fact, Fox was so sure there was no future for Star Wars, they negotiated a deal that let George Lucas retain all merchandise rights and all sequel rights. We all know how that ended up. Similar stories could be told about many blockbusters and many flops.

Barnes also suggests that Wall Street is worried because Pixar seems not to care about the marketplace. Barnes reports that Pete Doctor, the director of "Up", has said that the film's commercial prospects never crossed his mind. And that Pixar co-founder John Lasseter regularly says that marketability is not a factor in deciding what pictures to produce.

And Wall Streeters really believe that? Pixar has yet to produce a flop. The Pixar folks seem to have an inherent sense of what will sell, which is primarily a good story with intriguing characters. The Pixar folks don't have to think consciously about marketability, because it seems to be ingrained. Remember, "marketing" is figuring out what the public needs or wants, and providing same to them. If the public wants stories and characters, then the Pixar folk are right on the ball.

I suppose if the Wall Street gang had accurately predicted their own melt-down, I might be more willing to believe them when it came to movies.