Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Marketing Disney's Rapunzel...er, Tangled

Following up on a story posted a couple weeks ago, more information has been published regarding Disney's renaming of this fall's animated release RAPUNZEL to the bland title TANGLED.

The title RAPUNZEL would have followed in a long line of Disney movie titles named for lead characters, going all the way back to Disney's first full-length animated feature, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937), and continuing through titles such as PINOCCHIO, DUMBO, BAMBI, PETER PAN, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, SLEEPING BEAUTY, THE LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN, MULAN, POCAHONTAS, and many more.

Disney's THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (2009) -- which incidentally is due on DVD next week -- did not financially perform to Disney's expectations, and Disney executives apparently feel that boys were reluctant to see a film with PRINCESS in the title. Thus, RAPUNZEL has evolved into TANGLED, and Disney plans a marketing campaign focusing on the swashbuckling male hero.

Here is a teaser trailer for RAPUNZEL/TANGLED.

Retired Disney-Pixar animator Floyd Norman isn't impressed with the new title: "I'm still hoping that Disney will eventually regain their sanity and return the title of their movie to what it should be. I'm convinced they'll gain nothing from this except the public seeing Disney as desperately trying to find an audience."

Disney has also shelved plans to film Hans Christian Anderson's THE SNOW QUEEN.

It should be noted that THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG made a respectable $222 million worldwide to date. However, that amount pales in comparison to the $700 million worldwide pulled in by Disney-Pixar's UP (2009), which features male protagonists. UP also had a bland, generic title, although other Disney-Pixar films, including RATATOUILLE and WALL-E, have used character names in the title.

Disney has also recently turned down a sequel to Sandra Bullock's highly successful comedy THE PROPOSAL (2009), apparently because of the lack of ability to sell merchandise tie-ins.

All the above raises many questions:

Is Disney now going to be avoiding films, animated or otherwise, with women in leading roles?

Does the name change really make sense? Consider the relatively recent successes of THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, MULAN, and more.

Perhaps Disney is the victim of its own success and there is a backlash to the company's heavy merchandise marketing of the princesses to little girls?

Or is the relative success of UP simply a reflection of that film's high quality, compared to the very solid but not spectacularly good PRINCESS AND THE FROG?

Click the title of this post for an L.A. Times story; more info on the name change is at Slash Film.


Blogger UGN said...

From Mrs Ung:

I think that the appeal of Up had to do with the strong emotional reaction that many of us adults had to it within the first 15 minutes of the film. It was such a shock that it really made the film memorable and one could recommend it on that point alone.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for your input! I'll confess: I still haven't seen UP because I know my emotions are going to be manipulated by that sequence, which is supposed to be really good. I've got to find the right time when I'm willing to deal with it (grin). It sounds like you found the thing I've been avoiding a key factor in the positive word of mouth?

Best wishes,

2:04 PM  
Blogger Sally said...

I actually have avoided UP for the same reason. I'm kind of disappointed that they changed the name to Tangled because it does seem rather unnecessary. Besides, it jars the film from the succession of previous character-title films. I think you're right about Disney's overloading of the Princess marketing thing. I think if they had let up just a touch, they wouldn't feel the need to refocus their marketing strategy for this film. Ah well. I'm looking forward to the movie nonetheless. Great post!

6:32 PM  

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