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In Response to Cinematical: Pixar's Ratatouille In Trouble?

by
January 3, 2007

Ratatouille PosterNot all of you know of Cinematical, but it's a movie blog that I read as well, as their structure and staff means they get out about 20 to 30 fairly short new blog posts every single day. Erik Davis from Cinematical put a post up yesterday titled "Will Ratatouille Ruin Pixar?" about the marketing troubles the new Pixar film Ratatouille will be facing in the midst of the upcoming summer's huge opening schedule, which originated from a similar post by blogger Jim Hill (Media). After reading Erik's post on Cinematical, I had to respond actually in support (as much as I can) of Ratatouille's success. I think he's overlooked some of the dynamics and exaggerated quite a bit on what to expect. There's only been a 30 second teaser trailer and nothing more, we don't even really know the story, but there's plenty more to my response.

I don't have much to say about its subject matter of rats and that rats don't exactly appeal as much as any other Pixar film, because I slightly agree, and separately, because I believe we don't know enough - though that comment comes in a later paragraph. First things first, talking on the subject matter - come on, your 8 year old sister isn't going to go see a movie about giant robots blowing stuff up. That aside, she may not see a movie about dirty rats, or will she? We all know that if the character is setup right, they'll at least go and see it. Now comparing to Flushed Away, people went, but the movie was pretty bad in my own opinion. It wasn't a Pixar film - by far. And given Brad Bird is directing this, I predict it will have solid reviews. So that is a very big starting point for its success. Great reviews and a more comfortable introduction to the character will get people a bit more involved. One thing to note: the people interested in rats, pets, or animals, is WAY more than those interested in Nascar - why did DreamWorks even make a rat movie to begin with?! Because they know that, too.

RatatouilleNext, there is the emphasis with its name, which is already memorable. I mean, we're talking about it now! I've heard that it's "hard to pronounce" obviously, but that's all part of the scheme. Do you remember when the name for the new Nintendo console, the "Wii" was first announced? Everyone hated it, and I mean, they were angry, but in a matter of hours, millions and millions of people were talking about it on the internet and media everywhere. It was just a name but it was so unique and so striking that it planted itself firmly in the minds of millions in a matter of hours after being officially announced. I think the same is already happening with Ratatouille, although not yet as wide scale. The name is hard to pronounce, but it's also a bit "fun." That makes it catchy to begin with, and I believe it has some sticking power with kids - but then again I'm not a kid so I can't completely confirm that. I think this name scheme is already a positive for it, now let's just hope they can remember Ratatouille as easily as they can remember Shrek.

Erik also mentions eventual competition of Transformers and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix starting a week later after Ratatouille's June 29th release. I don't imagine Transformers or Live Free or Die Hard (both released on July 4) taking away that much box office business from it, but I do think Harry Potter (released two weeks later on July 13) will be a big killer. However, with its strength as a Pixar film and hopefully very high reviews, I think it will continue to live strong. Additionally, Harry Potter is PG-13, and although most parents will still take young kids to Harry Potter, they know they'll be much safer taking their children to this Pixar film, which will likely be PG if not G (unless it comes down to Shrek 3 vs Ratatouille). I think some competition concern is of course very viable, but I believe it will still live strong part of the way through July.

Ratatouille

Lastly, not all that much is known about the actual content of the film. Sure, they released a 30 second teaser in front of Cars, but that was a brief introduction. The photo above was taken some while ago and appeared on Aintitcool.com, showing that there are some real people involved, too. The basic story is about a rat, that's all we really know, but there is obviously a lot more we don't. When they push out their next 2-minute-long trailer, then we'll be introduced to the story in much greater depth, and it may be a whole different world. I think Erik may be jumping a bit too deep into this without that much known about it.

I can't exactly guarantee any of this is true or factual, but I do believe Erik did over exaggerate his concerns just a bit. I don't think Ratatouille will be one of the highest grossing Pixar films ever, but I do believe it will have a very strong opening weekend (with no real competition except Evan Almighty the week before) and last fairly well through all of July. Combined with great reviews and a guaranteed damn good story from Brad Bird, there is quite a bit we've yet to discover about Ratatouille, but I'm supportive of its success. We'll talk on this matter again in July!

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  • Of course I exaggerate, it's my job to exaggerate a little bit. I do agree with some of your points -- let's face it, Pixar's name alone will get a whole ton of butts into those movie theater seats. However, I do think they will have a hard time marketing it -- they'd be smart to make fun of the name in their advertisements, as it's a bit ridiculous to name a kids film Ratatouille. And, contrary to your belief, I feel the name will hurt the film, not help it ... if they do not go after the name right away in their ads. And you're right, we don't know a lot about the film -- but what we do know is not all that catchy or original. Oh wow, an animal wants to do something people do! Far out! I dig Brad Bird and I'm hopeful he'll give us a good story, but also keep in mind there are no big-name voices attached to the film, and Janeane Garofalo (the pic's biggest name) is about as annoying as a mosquito bite -- so marketing this based on who is in it is a lost cause. And I wouldn't bank on the so-called good reviews helping it blow away the box office. Critics are dying to bash a Pixar film, and if Ratatouille gives them anything, they'll bite ... and bite hard. Hey, for all I know, I could be totally wrong -- keep in mind, I'm presenting a possible scenario, I'm not saying this will happen or should happen.
  • Charlie
    I agree with Erik strongly in terms of the title. I'm still stumbling over it and I'm reduced to calling it "the new Pixar movie". But perhaps that is all that needs to be said. The Pixar logo alone can sell a film while many other animated films cannot. That is why they pump their films full of name celebrities and cram it above the title. Despite that, I think the film will be very successful. Being a childrens film, it is guaranteed a large audience and a longer staying power. For the most part, many of us are waiting for Pixar to slip up and make a truly bad movie. We thought the dud would be last summer's Cars, but it turns out audiences could get emotionally invested in a story about automobiles. I think initial doubts will vanish to acclaim come June and everyone on this board will be talking about how Pixar has done it again.
  • The title's not that hard. Rat-a-too-ee. Every official movie logo that you see (movie poster, teaser trailer, etc.) has the pronounciation right there - it's even on that book cover in the middle of the article. I agree that people will see Ratatouille solely based on the fact that it's a Pixar movie, but I also believe that it will be an amazing movie, and the only people who should have anything to worry about are detractors and competitors.
  • Nick
    I thought Cars looked like crap, and I saw it (as I assume many others did) because it's Pixar. They have a 7/7 track record as far as quality, and audiences seem to agree. They're the Criterion Collection of CG animated movies. It'll do well, and it'll probably be very good with Bird directing.
  • Meg
    Not that it matters or anything (or maybe it does), but early word on Rat says that it's one of - if not THE - best films Pixar has ever made. I'm talkin' Toy Story/Incredibles story quality. I'm surprised at the number of people who seem to WANT Pixar to make a bad movie - as if they're aren't enough of them out there already! Seriously, a company finally starts making good movies, every single one of them doing great at the BO and with critics - and people WANT them to screw up? What? Isn't that sort of a lose-lose situation? As long as they keep pumping out great films, I'll keep seeing them. They're not "due for a dud" by any means and it's completely stupid to even say so. I don't really care if it makes as much as Cars or not, in the end. I just want to be entertained by it.
  • angie
    hello my favorit rata is ratatuƧouille it's biurifor i love you bye angie
  • mj
    hi ratatolle is so cool and harry potter 5 ll lllis cooooooooooooooooool
  • RaphaĆ«l doyon
    Yhaaaa !! I love you ratatouilee !
  • Marylee Doyoon
    It so cutee !! :)
  • whitney
    this is such a good movie they should make a number 2 because it would be a good one too you should make it like 4 kinds of these movies that is how good it is.
  • john Marrick of kansas,usa
    this movie was such a great influence to kids... like me, i'd love watching RATSSSS!!! especiually ratatouille! the movie was awesome and nobody can beat it in the US top choices: movie of the year just a few comments about the movie: *it's very romantic that children could never have to watch it! *very pathetic *so many romance in the air *YUCK!
  • Dina
    I love it!!~~~~~!!!!~~~~
  • can they make (RATATOUILLE) movie soon ? this cartoon is very good i like it. yasaman (iran)
  • veronica
    la pelicula ratatouille es muy bonita y muy divertida yo y mi hermana la vinos en el cine y la verdad es muy bonita y bien hecha felicito a los que la hicieron
  • Dolly
    We Lovvvvvvvvvvvved It............. No One Can Watch Just Once !

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