Three days ago, Disney Animation Studio’s 52nd feature, Wreck-It Ralph, debuted in theaters at the top of the domestic box office, earning $49 million domestically and a total of $61 million worldwide. The film was released only four weeks after Disney’s last animated feature, the stop-motion Frankenweenie from director Tim Burton.
Promotional image for Disney Animation Studio's Wreck-It-Ralph, image copyright Disney
Even since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) defied expectations with its wildly successful theatrical debut, critics have predicted the demise of Disney animated films. Walt Disney Animation Studios has suffered setbacks several times over its 80 year history, from suspended animation during World War II, to the studio’s decline in quality and popularity in the 1970s, to the massive layoff of animation staff in 2000.
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In the fall of 2009, the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion dollars, transferring control of Marvel’s comic book and movie library to Disney, along with a library of 5,000 characters, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Daredevil, and Captain America.
Logos from Various Marvel Superhero Franchises
This summer, Disney released the blockbuster megahit, Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), which grossed more than $1.5 billion worldwide, and the studio has several more Marvel films in production, including Iron Man 3 (2013), sequels to Thor (2013), Captain America (2014), and The Avengers (2015), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), a film starring that OTHER team of Marvel superheros: Drax the Destroyer, Groot, Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, and Gamora. Never heard of them? Me either!
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Disney’s latest family film, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, (currently in theaters) has gained notoriety on the web, thanks to a viral video that has been viewed more than 2.7 million times in two weeks (and even got a mention in TMZ and other entertainment blogs).
Promotional image for The Odd Life of Timothy Green, image copyright Disney
The Odd Life of Timothy Green tells the story of a childless couple whose lives are charmed when a mysterious little boy materializes in their garden. The film has been panned by critics (38% on Rotten Tomatoes) who have called it “schmaltzy”, “manufactured” and “shellacked with sticky sentimentality”.
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2012 was another blockbuster year for superhero flicks. This summer saw the launch of a brand new Spider-Man franchise with The Amazing Spider-Man (73% on Rotten Tomatoes) and the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises (87%).
The Cast of The Avengers Assembles
The Dark Knight Rises is on its way to a $500 million domestic box office gross, but it is unlikely to surpass this summer’s truly heroic feature: Marvel’s The Avengers (92%) which stars not one but six Marvel superheroes and has grossed more than $617 million domestically and $1.49 billion worldwide, securing third place in the All Time Worldwide Box Office.
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2012 has been a great year for Joss Whedon. Best known for creating the cult smash hits Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog, the writer/director has had two critically acclaimed films hit theaters in 2012.
Screenshot from The Cabin in the Woods by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon
Whedon’s first film of the year, The Cabin in the Woods (co-written and produced by Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard), was filmed in 2009 and then shelved for two years when MGM Studios filed for bankruptcy. The genre-bending satirical horror film was eventually bought by Lions Gate in 2011 and ultimately released in April 2012. The film (which stars Thor’s Chris Hemsworth) has grossed more than $60 million internationally and received a 90% certified fresh rating from RottenTomatoes critics who called it original, inventive, and “the canniest genre deconstruction since Scream“.
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