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Anton Ego's final speech:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize that only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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You're welcome. I can't vouch for its accuracy -- I found it on a discussion board by searching on "Anton Ego speech" in Google -- but it looks right.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 3 weeks later...

Toon Tuesday: Why "Ratatouille" 's good-but-not-great box office numbers are now causing problems for Disney's marketing department

By now, you've probably heard that -- over this past weekend -- "Ratatouille" finally officially achieved really-for-real blockbuster status. Earning over $200 million during its initial domestic run.

Mind you, it did take this new Brad Bird film quite a while to reach that milestone. As you can see by the chart below . . . Of the six Pixar films that earned at least $200 million over their initial domestic runs, "Ratatouille" took the longest. . . .

Of course, were you to ask the people who work in Mickey's marketing department about what Mouse House senior management really thinks about this particular Pixar production's box office performance, you'd hear a very different story. One that involves a lot of finger-pointing as well as people attempting to shift blame to other departments at the studio.

"But why would people want to assign blame when it comes to 'Ratatouille' 's domestic box office performance?," you ask. Well, you have to understand that -- up until this last Brad Bird film -- Pixar productions have always finished in the Top 5 during their initial domestic runs. . . .

The way I hear it, the folks up in Emeryville are not happy about this prospect. Not just because "Ratatouille" has already been knocked out of the Top 5. But because -- for the first time ever -- there is the very distinct possibility that this animation studio's latest release will not be in the domestic Top 10 as 2007 draws to a close.

This is why there's now a new party line when it comes to discussing "Ratatouille" 's box office performance. Nowadays, Pixar die-hards don't really like to talk about how this Brad Bird film did during its domestic run. They'd much rather prefer to discuss how well this animation studio's latest release is doing overseas.

Of course, the only problem with doing that is that it then opens the window to comparing "Ratatouille" 's grosses to those for "The Simpsons Movie." And while it no longer seems likely that this 20th Century Fox release will be able to eclipse that Pixar picture's domestic earnings, "The Simpsons Movie" is still kicking "Ratatouille" 's butt overseas (i.e. Having earned $291.0 million versus $172.3 million to date). . . .

Jim Hill Media, September 4

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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In case anybody cares how well the film is doing overseas, here's Variety:

Disney's "Ratatouille" finished a distant second with $8.5 million at 2,809 in 34 markets, led by a $2.9 million opening in Australia -- where school holidays start Monday -- and its sixth French frame with $1.5 million for its sixth straight victory. The Paris-set toon's been embraced by French audiences with a $52.6 million market total, trailing "Spider-Man 3" by only $400,000 as the top grosser of 2007.

"Ratatouille" also crossed the $200 million mark in international grosses, the ninth pic to hit that milestone this year following "300," "Spider-Man 3," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Shrek the Third," "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," "Transformers," "The Simpsons Movie" and "Live Free or Die Hard." With more than three months left, 2007 has already matched the total of $200 million grossers released last year -- underlining the key driver in this year's 20% hike in overseas biz for the major studios.

"Ratatouille" is also the 25th Disney pic to top $200 million internationally and has nearly matched the domestic cume. And it's still got plenty of gas in the tank with October openings set for the U.K., Germany, Italy and Scandinavia.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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A lot of people have listed issues with the way people and animals interact in this movie, but Kristin Thompson notes, on the blog she shares with David Bordwell, one thing which I never even noticed but definitely makes good sense: "(The film wisely sticks to soups, desserts, and, yes, ratatouille, sidestepping the problematic notion of an animal cooking other animals.)" Eek, that would have definitely raised problems. They did an excellent job of never even suggesting such a thing, so that the absence of meat didn't even occur to me until now.

That's just how eye roll.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For those who care about this film's box-office performance, you might be interested to know that Ratatouille had some of the strongest "legs" of any film so far this year. Of all the films that have made over $20 million so far this year, only eight made more than four times their opening-weekend take over the course of their entire box-office runs, and Ratatouille is one of them. In fact, it ranks 4th, behind Sicko, Amazing Grace and Knocked Up:

  • Sicko -- $4.6 million -- $24.4 million -- 5.3x
  • Amazing Grace -- $4.1 million -- $21.3 million -- 5.2x
  • Knocked Up -- $30.7 million -- $148.6 million -- 4.8x
  • Ratatouille -- $47 million -- $202.7 million -- 4.3x
  • Hairspray -- $27.5 million -- $117.4 million -- 4.3x
  • Wild Hogs -- $39.7 million -- $168.3 million -- 4.2x
  • Stardust -- $9.2 million -- $37.4 million -- 4.1x
  • Hot Fuzz -- $5.8 million -- $23.6 million -- 4.0x
For whatever that's worth. At the very least, this would indicate it had good buzz.

Almost all the other summer releases, by comparison, opened huge and then flamed out pretty quickly. Transformers, Spider-Man 3 and Harry Potter 5, for example, may have grossed a heck of a lot more than Ratatouille in total, but they made about half their total cumes in just the first week of their respective releases.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I find it reassuring that the other films, some of which still underperformed at the box office (I'm thinking chiefly of Stardust), also must have had good word of mouth. If only they hadn't been so weak out of the gate.

The big head-scratcher: Wild Hogs? I haven't heard a single good comment about that movie, but I probably hang with the wrong crowd. It occurs to me that I haven't heard a negative comment either from anyone who's seen the film locally, because I don't know a single person who saw the film.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Wild Hogs was a pretty funny movie. I just don't get what all the negativity about that movie was all about. It wasn't anything special - just fun. It kinda reminded me of Night at the Museum in the way it snuck up on you and made you laugh.

That's just how eye roll.

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In an unusual side story, since the release of Ratatouille, sales of pet rats and their accessories in Paris has risen 40%.

Story here.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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It wasn't anything special

Out of context from your comment, but that's why I didn't like Wild Hogs that much. ;)

Perfectly understandable. But obviously a lot of people did.

That's just how eye roll.

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In an unusual side story, since the release of Ratatouille, sales of pet rats and their accessories in Paris has risen 40%.

How unusual is it? IIRC, the same thing happened with clownfish after Finding Nemo, and when Disney did its live-action 101 Dalmatians I seem to recall some sort of PR effort to caution audiences against impulse acquisitions of Dalmatians (which I don't think are great family dogs).

Of course the localized Parisian effect with Ratatouille might be a unique twist. But then Ratatouille is a unique film. :)

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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In an unusual side story, since the release of Ratatouille, sales of pet rats and their accessories in Paris has risen 40%.

How unusual is it? IIRC, the same thing happened with clownfish after Finding Nemo, and when Disney did its live-action 101 Dalmatians I seem to recall some sort of PR effort to caution audiences against impulse acquisitions of Dalmatians (which I don't think are great family dogs).

Yes, but Clownfish and Dalmations don't have pink eyes.... little pink eyes... little pink beedy eyes... eyes that don't seem to be living... until they bite you... and then those little pink beedy eyes roll over white.... AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dave Poland:

[Ratatouille] just passed Cars to become Pixar's #5 worldwide grosser of all time. And Toy Story 2 is well in view, likely to be passed this week, just $10 million away. The film did over $21 million in the last week. ...

The final worldwide number looks to be about $520 million... still not enough to take The Incredibles' #3 slot and likely to come up just behind The Simpsons' $525 million worldwide. But $530 million, beating out both films' positions, is possible

So do ya think that maybe all the authors of those "Ratatouille is a dissapointment" stories owe the best mainstream animated film of 2007 a bit of an apology?

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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SDG wrote:

: What a great comeback story.

Possibly. As I sort-of mentioned at Jeff's blog, I'm not too surprised that Ratatouille (which celebrates French cuisine and British critics) is doing better overseas than it is domestically, whereas Cars (which celebrates the American highway) did better in the U.S. than it did overseas. (The fact that Ratatouille is a pretty good movie in some ways whereas Cars wasn't also helps, though the foreign market sure seems to enjoy a lot of trash a lot more than we do, too -- so that's neither here nor there, I guess.)

The fact remains that Ratatouille is Pixar's worst performer DOMESTICALLY, by far, since A Bug's Life -- and after you adjust for inflation, it is Pixar's lowest earner Stateside, PERIOD. (Ratatouille has $204.4 million, whereas the $162.8 million made by A Bug's Life in 1998 translates to $228.4 million today, if BoxOfficeMojo.com is correct about the average ticket price increasing from $4.69 to $6.58 in that time.)

But $204.4 million is still a good catch in this day and age, even if it doesn't quite make the film one of the year's top ten; as Jim Hill suggested last night, the issue here may be "brand fatigue", the fact that Pixar movies are no longer regarded as "events" the way they once were. But a good non-eventful film is still better than a bad eventful film, so hey.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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FWIW, as a follow-up to my earlier post on films with "legs", here is how the Pixar gallery lines up (with the "first" weekend in the cases of A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2 being the cume as of the end of their first weekend in wide release; each film was released in a single theatre one week before it opened wide; both films, as well as the original Toy Story, also happened to open wide on the Wednesday before the American Thanksgiving, so the first-weekend cume includes the money earned on that first Wednesday and Thursday):

  • Toy Story (1995) -- $39.1 million -- $191.8 million -- 4.9x
  • Finding Nemo (2003) -- $70.3 million -- $339.7 million -- 4.8x
  • Ratatouille (2007) -- $47 million -- $204.4 million -- 4.3x
  • Monsters, Inc. (2001) -- $62.6 million -- $255.9 million -- 4.09x
  • Cars (2006) -- $60.1 million -- $244.1 million -- 4.06x
  • The Incredibles (2004) -- $70.5 million -- $261.4 million -- 3.7x
  • A Bug's Life (1998) -- $46.1 million -- $162.8 million -- 3.5x
  • Toy Story 2 (1999) -- $80.5 million -- $245.9 million -- 3.1x
So while Ratatouille had the smallest opening since A Bug's Life, it has the third-best "legs" of any Pixar film to date -- beaten only by Finding Nemo and the original Toy Story.

And, interestingly, Toy Story 2 had the best first-wide-weekend cume of any Pixar film to date, but the worst "legs" of the bunch.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I'm not sure how well that summary does at encapsulating the "legs" a movie has, since it punishes movies for having a strong opening weekend. That's a matter of early buzz, not legs. The number of weeks in release, perhaps with the number of theaters carrying it at the widest release factored in, would seem to be a better metric.

That's just how eye roll.

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So while Ratatouille had the smallest opening since A Bug's Life, it has the third-best "legs" of any Pixar film to date -- beaten only by Finding Nemo and the original Toy Story.

Funny, I'd say A Bug's Life easily had more legs than any other Pixar film.

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ratatouille continues to surprise overseas:

"Ratatouille" has cumed $346.8 million overseas -- well above Disney's forecasts -- and $552 million worldwide. It may still have enough gas in the tank to have a shot at becoming the 29th pic to hit the $400 million mark internationally.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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