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Rant: How Did Bolt Flop, But Madagascar 2 Flourish?

by
December 1, 2008

Rant: How Did Bolt Flop, But Madagascar 2 Flourish?

Something is very wrong with American moviegoers. I was both shocked and saddened to see the box office results for Disney's Bolt on its opening weekend. It earned barely $26 million, which is pretty bad for the opening of a Disney animated movie. What frustrated me the most, however, was that DreamWorks' Madagascar 2 took in $63.1 million on its opening weekend. How could American audiences spend nearly $37 million more on an inferior film, one the promotes poor values and lacks the very passion that makes both Disney and Pixar's movies so wonderful. To actually justify my anger towards Madagascar 2, I spent my own hard-earned money to see it last week in order to judge both movies fairly. After 90 minutes without a laugh, I walked out utterly depressed by the state of today's careless audiences.

As it stands at the moment, Bolt's domestic total is $66.8 million while Madagascar 2's domestic total is $159.5 million. Technically speaking, Madagascar has a 14 day head start on Bolt, and Bolt may eventually earn the same amount in the end, but I'm still shocked that so many moviegoers spent their money a DreamWorks animated movie over an authentically entertaining Disney animated movie. I tried seeing Madagascar to gain a bit of a perspective (that I didn't have before) and attempt to understand what makes the movie so appealing, but gained nothing. All I did gain was more hatred towards DreamWorks and a blinding headache. Were audiences really so easily persuaded by Will.i.am's "I Like 2 Move It" song?

DreamWorks Animation operates with the sole purpose of making money - they make nothing but big gimmicks. There is no honest storytelling and there is no genuine entertainment found within their movies, they're nothing but contrived stories built around money-making ideas. This time it was that annoying "I Like 2 Move It" song that every kid in this country can sing by heart. DreamWorks knows that they've sold all 90 minutes of their movie with a 3 minute song - so why care about anything else? By the time someone buys a ticket, they've already watched that song in its entirety in the trailer and on TV. All they're doing is spending more money to watch a phony story built around something that they've already seen for free numerous times beforehand. Why were so many moviegoers convinced otherwise?

Disney used to make similar mistakes with their movies, given their background is in theme parks and gimmicky money-making attractions are how they strive. If it weren't for John Lasseter, however, Disney would still be stuck in that same rut. But now that they've transplanted the heart and soul of Pixar into the studio that Walt Disney built, they've started making movies with heart and out of pure passion for telling great stories. Jeffrey Katzenberg and DreamWorks Animation are doing just the opposite. They're trying to make a quick buck and that's exactly what they did. They have no reason to complain - they've already made $160 million off of Madagascar 2. In all reality I don't care how much money Bolt makes in the end, but because money is the only way to measure anything in Hollywood, I have to use it.

Madagascar 2 is a ridiculously clichéd animated movie that wasn't made to tell a good story but rather because the first one did so well. If parents wants kids to be taught things like animal cruelty, the idea of sacrificing, that hijacking and stealing can be beneficial, or any number of other absurd values that it glorifies, than they can choose Madagascar 2. But if they want their kids to be taught about love and compassion, honesty and loyalty, all while enjoying a good laugh, then Bolt is the way to go. However, moviegoers didn't care to think twice about these options. Instead, more of them chose to see Madagascar 2 than Bolt. I could analyze the marketing tactics of Disney and Paramount all day long, or criticize Disney's decision to put Bolt up against Twilight on its opening weekend, but that's not what this is about.

Who I'm not criticizing are the studios and their marketing departments, but rather the American moviegoers for their carelessness and lack of concern over quality. Every single day we hear about more sequels and remakes being made in Hollywood, but when original ideas come along, they're shamelessly ignored. Bolt is an original idea, developed by the creative minds at Disney (like co-director and co-writer Chris Williams). In comparison to Madagascar 2, which couldn't be more unoriginal, Bolt was an idea developed from the start as a story worth telling. This is where Disney, and Pixar especially, really stand out in comparison to studios like DreamWorks Animation and Blue Sky (of the Ice Age movies). I'm sure those who saw Bolt could feel the passion that the entire creative team put into it.

What hope do we have for Hollywood when movies like Twilight and Madagascar 2 can succeed, and original movies like Bolt and Australia fail. American audiences shouldn't be allowed to complain about sequels and remakes and adaptations when that's what the majority of them prefer anyway. If Bolt does end up making more money than Madagascar 2, it doesn't mean I'll be satisfied. Ask yourself which of the two you would've chosen to see and why. If your reasons don't include good storytelling or originality, then Disney may need to overhaul their marketing in the future - and the American moviegoer may also need to overhaul their interests. As Roger Ebert said in his criticism of society: "It is about the death of an intelligent and curious, readership, interested in significant things and able to think critically."

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  • http://www.williammize.com William Mize
    My $10 went toward seeing Bolt this past weekend and I loved it. I thought it well worth the money, and you can really see the interplay and relationship between Disney and Pixar (as far as storytelling and creative talent) really paying off. A great little story, with plenty of humor and heart. Madagascar 2 won't even make my Netflix list.
  • James Caplinger
    The reason people did not see Bolt is because all the college kids went home to see their families over Thanksgiving. Also In Digital 3D at our movie theaters around Pennsylvania, Did not attract me. I do want to see Bolt, but if it means sitting through another 3D movie, I may have to pass up the event.
  • Jeremy
    I have not seen either one but my vote was to go see Bolt last weekend. Looking at the box office totals, it looks to me like no movie scored over 31 mill so it seems more like a Holiday thing rather than a charge for Madagascar 2. Not a fair review really but oh well. Most people do like to shop on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend rather than sit in a theater.
  • http://www.iheartmovies.org Mike
    I think really, as you said, that their decision to run it against Twilight killed it. Regardless of the quality level of Twilight, they had to know it had a built in audience from the book series and that running it against Twilight would be risky. Also, the trailer for Bolt makes it pretty lackluster (to me) versus the three minute clip that Disney released. Once I watched that, I was able to see a lot more of what the film was comprised of rather than seeing it as another non-Pixar animated film (ie Dreamworks and the bunch they dish out over and over). Regardless, the worst of all of this is the fact that people are in love with movies that are simple and require no thinking. They favor the gimmick-filled and cheesy plot over the deeper emotional story and that's where there really is a problem. While we bitch and moan for better content, we praise (in terms of giving our money to) the worst films (why the hell is there still a _____ movie series by Aaron Seltzer and crew?) and ignore the better films when it comes to the box office.
  • -Peter-
    I'm ashamed to say I wanted to see Madagascar 2. Only for the lemur though. I haven't seen either yet, but if I do see one in theaters it will be Bolt, I'm sure.
  • http://www.thatmoviesite.com Jeff W.
    Bolt has not flopped in my books. Bolt was by far the superior movie, but you have to look at what else opened opposite it...Twilight. Madagascar had no competition. When I was at the showing f Twilight, there were plenty of younger girls that would probably like Miley Cyrus, so they obviously chose Twilight over Bolt, but now they will be going to Bolt. Also, Bolt accomplished something you rarely see in wide release movies, a week to week gain!! Bolt will have long legs and hopefully beat Madagascar in the long run.
  • http://www.atomicpopcorn.net Atomic Popcorn
    I think it comes down to people loved the first film so why not see the sequel. Everyone loved Star Wars - and everyone went to see the prequels. They all sucked but fans still flocked to see them. Bolt is a superior film in all sense of the word, but to folks who don't know much about movies, see a sequel for their kids to see and wham, that's where the hard earned cash goes.
  • Devon Shaw
    Amen, Alex. Every word of it.
  • Bezelbub
    Bolt had John Travolta in it... that is enough to make it a flop!! LOL Bolt will make the money back in time. It already beat Twilight this weekend so that is a start. Plus Madagascar has 4 cute penguins
  • Rob
    Ummm...maybe because it stars miley cyrus...who is a horrible actor....yeah...pretty sure thats why I didn't wanna see it. Also, Travolta has lost his game. And didn't they totally rip off the mobster pigeons from Animaniacs? Just didn't look good to me. Maybe the movie is, but its all about the advertising.
  • TookyG
    I was with you right up until you said Australia was original.
  • mcmojo
    Wow! Talk about ranting about the wrong movie. Bolt was average at best. It was not that funny, original or heartwarming. Madagascar 2 was funnier, less original and less heartwarming. Neither film was great, and neither film was terrible. There are plenty of other films that don't do well theatrically that should get you angry at moviegoers - Bolt is not one of them.
  • http://www.dvd-dweeb.com dweeb
    Its simple, the American movie going audience loves crap. Witness all this schlock reality on television, the lowest common denominator always seems to win out.
  • http://www.killsmedead.com Liz
    "American audiences shouldn't be allowed to complain about sequels and remakes and adaptations when that's what the majority of them prefer anyway." The people who are going to see crappy movies are not the ones complaining about sequels, remakes, and adaptations, though.
  • Johnny Crow
    Well James C. Im a college kid and I went home for thanksgiving and saw it with the fam and it was excellent. Madagascar 2 was funny but not a quality film. The difference in quality is so obvious, but lets face it, the majority of people are ignorant towards good films.
  • S
    Disney didn't DECIDE to run BOLT against TWILIGHT. Disney chose the weekend the moment POTTER vacated, and then TWILIGHT seconded the motion. It's a high-traffic weekend, and Disney's last two films have not be stellar. But BOLT should have legs and perform over the holiday, because it's a good solid movie. Great thoughts and article, very well presented. Enjoyed reading.
  • Chris
    One potential reason could be that there are lots of families in the United States. But that doesnt answer why Madagascar did better then Bolt. Another reason is that the producers of Bolt decided to release it during the same weekend as Twilight. They should have known that preteen little girls were going to go apeshit over the stupid vampire movie. But then how many preteen girls take their little siblings to a movie. Maybe its because parents have to decide which movies they can sit through. I personally dont have any major issue with John Travolta but someone i can not stand with every fiber of my being is Miley Cyrus. I think her music sucks and little girls are buying into it. so that could be it. The main reason im not going to see it is the plot. A dog who plays a superhero dog on a TV is oblivious to the fact that he doesnt have super powers. I don't know if im missing anything but that sounds ridiculous even though i doubt that Madagascar's plot has a plot any more interesting then that. Also if Australia is so original why isnt it getting good reviews.
  • American Movie Goer
    First off all, if a majority of people went to go see Madagascar, then obviously the only perception of whats funny and whats not that is wrong is yours...Money talks, b***s*** walks. As far as "values" go, I don't think people go to movies for "values" anymore, because quite frank you don't find values ANYWHERE anymore, so you might as well get a good laugh. I watched both Bolt and Madagascar, and i'll say I watched Madagascar twice because it was hilarious and wasn't any worse to watch then any of these other movies exposed to kids, I've been in many a R-Rated movies with kids in them so its time to stop being so SOFT and just get over it Disney is old school and Dreamworks is bringing in the new, which BOTH kids and adults can enjoy. So if you weren't such a negative critique then you would have liked Madagascar as well, and if you think you could do better and outsell Dream Works, then why are you writing?
  • http://www.critical-acclaim.info grendel
    My kids and I laughed more in Madagascar 2 than in Bolt. We saw both. Bolt was, as another put it, a lackluster film. Miley Cyrus was terrible as expected. John Travolta was un-impressive. And as for the story...I see very little different in this film than Benji or countless other animal friend movies. And to be quite honest and against the current hype machine, John Lasseter take over of Disney means more and more of the same. At this point Pixar is looking just as run of the mill as Dreamworks.
  • John D.
    I had no idea that John Lasseter of Pixar was the producer of Bolt until recently. I don't watch much TV either so if they were touting his name on advertisements, I wasn't aware of it. Also, Alex, if you look at the history of Disney's in-house CGI productions, most of them have been subpar. Dreamworks Animation, on the other hand, has experienced a lot of success with their films (Shrek, Kung Fu Panda). That alone gives Dreamworks an edge marketing-wise. The quality of the film doesn't necessarily have much to do with it. Maybe I'm just not as cynical, but I don't think people purposely go out and spend $10 hoping to see a crappy movie; some people just have bad taste. "Bolt was by far the superior movie, but you have to look at what else opened opposite it…Twilight." That's mostly irrelevant. Both films are of two different genres and are geared towards different demographics so they're not directly in competition with each other (except when it possibly comes to adolescent girls).
  • John D.
    Also, I want to add that I'm sure it's the kids who decide which movie to go to on a family outing and I'm sure their tastes aren't as refined as most adults. Haven't you ever loved a movie as a child only to realize later on in life that it was pretty bad stuff? Anyway, I digress. If kids had to choose between Madagascar 2 (a sequel for something they've seen before and probably liked) and Bolt, I'd say most of them would probably go with the former.
  • Mike S
    A few possible reasons for Bolt flopping: 1) Travolta is synonomous with low standards. When his name is attached to a movie I know that they won't get bogged down worrying about "quality". 2) Miley Cyrus is fast becoming the new Britney Spears. As in, someone I don't want my daughters to have anything to do wtih. She is another kid who is growing up too fast and that is not going to help a kiddie movie make money. 3) Most importantly, the movie has a very generic quality to it. From the actors to the story to the animation. It just looks blah. I'll rent it for my kids when it comes out on DVD.
  • Betterchill
    I saw Bolt this weekend and it was great. I dont think I am even going to bother seeing Madagascar ... all I hear are negative things.
  • ScottyR
    Original storytelling? That would be nice. How about reviewing an original movie instead? Nice essay. Now if only you could use your powers for good instead of mediocrity. My god. Bolt Vs Madagascar 2. No matter who wins, we lose.
  • http://www.graphic.it Flavio
    One word: "kids". They sure liked the song "We like to move it move it". Pretty sad if You ask me.
  • Maxwell
    ''Bolt was by far the superior movie, but you have to look at what else opened opposite it…Twilight." ''That's mostly irrelevant. Both films are of two different genres and are geared towards different demographics so they're not directly in competition with each other (except when it possibly comes to adolescent girls).'' I disagree with John D on this one, when a huge movie like twilight opens it draws everyone's attention and NOT ONLY young girl's, i saw A LOT of people of all ages (including boys and men) going to see Twilight out of pure curiosity, the buzz around the movie hurt Bolt even if they dont appeal to the same demographic. The «Event» that was Twilight's release is something you have to consider when you look at Bolt's number. There's also the fact that Madagascar was the first released movie of the 2, a lot of families dont have the money to take the whole family to the movies twice in a month... twice in 14 days...
  • darrin
    madagascar 2 didn't flop because its a sequel, with a good story line. bolt however is basically the same story you heard before, a lost dog trying to make his way home with a little twist the dog is a movie star. Another problem was that it came out when twilight was comin out. That film could suck but there was a hype. Any way bolt is a good film, just like speed racer. it justt didnt get the attention.
  • Mickey Mouse
    The economy being what it is means families have to choose very carefully what they see in theatre if there is a sequel to something they like vs. another unknown movie then the decision is easy go see the sequel. Also, Disney’s recent track record with animated movies (Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons) wasn’t anything to write home about.
  • http://colorpalette.com j. todd
    I saw both films with my kids. Bolt was hands down the best. And even though there were some similarities to other Disney and Pixar films I thought it was the best animated Disney film in years.
  • http://www.skonmovies.com/ Sean Kelly
    If you spend all your time worrying about kids films, you'll miss out on all the good things in life.
  • Nick
    Bolt was mediocre at best, it seemed way to cheesy to me and they had me wishing for the ending within the last 30 mins. Madagascar wasn't that much better, the only parts that kept me watching were the ones with the lemurs or the penguins. The whole back story on the lion was meh, and the dancing lost my interest but other than that it was not as horrible as most people are making it out to be. In the end though, neither of them really deserve that much praise.
  • Spider
    I haven't see either film. "Madagascar 2" is a sequel that was highly anticipated and is a pre-sold concept. The audience was already built-in. It also helped to be released 2 weeks ahead of the rest. "Bolt" on the other hand, was released along with "Twilight". Big mistake! Disney should have known better. The power of the pre-teens and adolescents was evident based on "Twilight's" 1st weekend take. Even then then, "Twilight" was already a pre-sold concept with a string of books occupying the shelves at our local Barnes & Noble. All in all "Bolt" should fare well based on word of mouth. This reminds me of when "Hellboy 2" was released the week before "The Dark Knight" opened. Had "Hellboy 2" been released in August as originally planned (as the movie posters suggested), it would have raked well over 100 mil as opposed to the 75.7 mil. it took in domestically. This just goes to show that sometimes the studio suits fail to cater effectively to the right demographics and therefore blunder the release dates too.
  • Bry from Chi
    I haven't seen either one yet..but I'm not concerned about Bolt versus Mad 2. I'm more concern with movies like Saw 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. THAT is more disturbing to me than a few animated animals acting up.
  • al
    Bolt flopped? it pulled in more money its second weekend than its first. Sounds a lot more like the surprise hit Borat to me.
  • Matt
    You didn't laugh once at Madagascar 2? You're a sad, sad man. The only thing that saddened me about American audiences was that total piece of crap Twilight is still doing well nationally - tho' we only got one strong weekend out of it.
  • Andrew
    As a disclaimer, I haven't seen Bolt. But isn't Bolt's misconception of reality the same as Buzz Lightyears? Good story but not entirely a new fresh story either. And with that preconception I guess I didn't want to see something that wasn't going to be better than Toy Story. Granted I wouldn't pay anything more than free to watch Madagascar 2
  • Jaf
    Two unfortunate things: Maybe moviegoers are sick of Disney and it's time for a new animation studio champion because honestly, Disney is also in it for the money. Why do you think Toy Story 3 is in the works? (Toy Story wasn't supposed to have a sequel; rather it was meant to be standalone.) Come on now, Kung Fu Panda and Shrek 2 weren't so bad. Who can forget the fact that Beverly Hills Chihuahua was released only a few months ago and now we're getting another movie with a canine protagonist so soon? To be fair, I'm not American.
  • David
    I can't believe what I'm going to say, but I've to agree with you Alex. Whoa! the other day I was thinking about you when watching some Madagascar "something" (it could have been a trailer on tv, I didn't bothered to watch it) and thought that you might be praising for it. I didn't watched Madagascar 2 because I started watching the first one in dvd, and after 15 minutes without a single laugh I turned it off (it was the part where the old lady beats the lion). Of course, what could u expect from a sequel? more stupidity! I've yet to see Bolt, however I think it's cute... zzzz nothing else. If Bolt is "a good film like SpeedRacer" like someone pointed up there, I won't enjoy it. I hate cliches and commonalities. The only 3d movie from Disney on the topic of Madagascar that I came to truly enjoy is The Wild, directed by "Spaz" Williams (the very same guy that animated the pseudopod from The Abyss, the T-Rex in JP 1, the T-1000 in T2:JD, The Mask, etc etc). Far better than Madagascar (and Bolt from what I've seen in the trailer).
  • ha1rball
    Madagascar 2 all the way baby!!! it was waaay funnier then Bolt! Silliness isn't always a bad thing especially in an animated movie for kids! I like em big, I like em chunky... hahaha cracks me up
  • Micah
    I do admit, Bolt looked like a blast. But personally, I refuse to pay money to ANYTHING that in ANYWAY contributes to the success of Miley Cyrus. And I've been scanning the web and tons of people agree that's why they're skipping it or waiting for the dvd. Even though everybody who saw it was satisfied, I still question what's going on behind the minds of the producers/director who decided to pick a girl from a crudely acted, poorly written, cookie-cutter show to let her star in their film. In my book, any film competing with Madagascar 2, Quantum of Solace and Twilight and ends up earning $26 million on opening weekend is a hit.
  • SlashBeast
    The first Madagascar was an unfunny bore so it was pretty safe to say that the sequel would be the same. I think the reason that Madagascar 2 made more money is because it's a franchise, people saw the previous film and somehow thought it was something more than a cliche-fest. The franchise is more recognizable than a brand new filom and a brand new character such as Bolt. It's too bad though, we have to endure endless sequels to crappy movies where movies with actual quality don't last long.
  • Shige
    Hold the phone. Other people have a different taste than you ? Incredible.
  • billy
    this is disneys fault ,they didnt do there research onwhat movies they were gonna compete aganist,madagascar 2 did,...disney thinks there the shizz ..stupid monopoly disney always trying to take the small comp down...epic fail
  • http://blogger.xs4all.nl/vads Vitor
    People (children) are much more attracted to colours and busy posters. If you compare both posters (Bolt and Madagascar 2) you can easily see that Madagascar 2 "offers" more fun, characters, etc. for the children. And the song "I like 2 move it" ofcourse helps. My son didn't even see the movie and he was already singing it. That helps: he told me he wanted to go see the "I like 2 move it movie". That says enough.
  • http://www.myspace.com/kevjohnphotography kevjohn
    meh, I saw Quantum of Solace this weekend. Somehow I've fallen behind in my moviegoing. I have no interest in Madagascar 2 at all, as the first one did nothing for me. For the cost of a full price ticket to see that, I'll be 2/3 of the way to affording the Kung Fu Panda dvd. I'm only kinda sorta interested in Bolt. That one can probably wait til the DVD comes out though. I'm sure it'll have one of those bonus shorts featuring the hamster, who seems like the most interesting character in the movie judging by the trailers.
  • http://www.feoamante.com Feo Amante
    MADAGASCAR 2 vs BOLT M2: has a built in audience and good will from the very good, very successful first movie. Plus the fact that the voice actors on their own are quite popular. BOLT: No built-in audience. Previous Disney animated efforts with a dog hero (UNDERDOG, BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA) were uninspired, lackluster, money sucking garbage. None of the voice actors for BOLT are popular. M2: is aimed at the same audience age that goes ape for Barney, 3.2.1. Penguins, and The Wiggles. It also comes from the company that brought us all three SHREKs, BEE MOVIE, and KUNG FU PANDA. Nothing but good word coming out for the sequel in the last 6 months. BOLT: Animated Disney movies of the past 10 years, mediocre (THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE, LILO & STITCH) at best. Last good Disney animated movie was MULAN (1998). Word that BOLT was so troubled that John Lasseter had to be brought in, couldn't have been good for audience participation. You know, if you give it just a little bit of thought, it really isn't all that difficult to figure out.
  • Blue Silver
    @46 "You know, if you give it just a little bit of thought, it really isn't all that difficult to figure out." ......... of course, from a logical stand point, just about everyone who posted above mentioned what you just have....SO NOTHING NEW!!!......However, from an informational standpoint BOLT is John Travolta's voice. What bigger name do you want??? BOLT also made as much the second weekend as the first( not counting Wed and Thurs.). $26.2mil 1st....26.5mil..2nd. This is rare! Just like a few posters above mentioned that word of mouth would do wonders...I believe it will. So far, it seems to be working.
  • michael
    i agree. what is worng with people?
  • http://wanderingbell.blogspot.com Bill
    I did not see Madagascar 2, however, I would have to imagine that it did better than Bolt because it had a built in audience from the last time. The first movie was good enough. It could have been better, but there are very few movies about which the same can not be said. I did however see Bolt and have to say that I was dissappointed. The basic story was good. However, I left unsatified. Unlike a lot of movies where I could point out what I would have liked to seen, I cannot do the same for Bolt. It just never really seemed to have that high point that I've come to expect in a Pixar film. My tuppence for what its worth.
  • Nathan
    I love John Lasseter and give everything he does the benefit of the doubt. My father (who loves pixar) said Bolt was "ok." Granted I am sure he thought Madagascar 2 was a piece of crap. The choice between Bolt and Madagascar 2 is probably being made by the children of these parents, and children are, well, simple. I think any adult may have chosen to take their kids to Bolt, but I doubt they get the choice. The kids want to see Madagascar 2 and that is what won. I do find it distressing because someday I want to take my kids to see movies as good as the Pixar ones. But if movies like Madagascar 2 keep outscoring Bolt, that won't happen.
  • matt
    screw them both.go rent wall*e.
  • ShriekoftheVulture
    Oh please. When has it been such a crime to like the movie that is funnier instead of the one with more "depth"? The trailers for Bolt looked like a direct to video rushed hackjob movie, while the trailers for Madagascar 2 looked funnier and colorful. And you're right, people's tastes so horrible, Why do you think Disaster Movie and Speed Racer were the highest grossing movies of the year and The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Wall-E all flopped. Wait a minute... Bottom line is, how two animated movies are doing is not a good way to judge the entire population. Madagascar 2 was pretty funny. And I haven't seen Bolt but I doubt it is good enough to warrant the tired, hyberbolic, ranting and whining you are doing.
  • George
    Madagascar 2 was way better than Bolt. If Lasseter ends up implementing much of the same narrative/plot philosophies of Pixar, than I don't think things will be looking too good for Disney. Hopefully Disney will make a good strong comeback with Princess and the Frog. Personally, I'm really excited about Tale of Desperaux. It looks great and BIG. The problem with Pixar (and now Disney) is that the films they're making are too small in scope from a plot perspective. This is why I'm hoping Princess and the Frog will succeed; because it has a classic princess premise with a young waitress struggling to make her dreams come true and a big, bad, scary villain. Remember those? I just miss that good ol' fashion Malifisent/Cruella DeVille/Ursula factor that has been severely lacking for many years now. Madagascar was just fun, cute, and funny. I enjoyed Bolt too. But I think it would have been far more entertaining and far more successful had it been about Bolt the way he is in the tv series and managed to capture the green eyed man's cat (who was way funnier-along with the fat one), and if he actually had to save Penny and her dad + if Rhino was maybe a lab hamster at the CIA too and got to tag along with Bolt and the evil skinny cat. THAT would have been fun. But without the super bark being that powerful, obviously.
  • http://rhptkfgs.blogspot.com ramez
    I was more disapointed with AUSTRALIA and QUANTUM OF SOLACE failing compared to the anthropomorphic garbage that plagues the animation industry now a days.
  • Kevin
    Maybe viewers are sick of uncreative hollywood producers casting annoying tired actors and celebrity neophyte actors to do voice over when a thousand other hard working actors could do the job and be more enjoyable to listen to. Who cares to hear John Travolta as a dog and Miley Cyrus as a whatever, really do they think that would be a draw? Doesn't matter JT and Miley got paid anyway, so much for the sequel.
  • Kyle
    I had to see both movies, due to having a little brother who has not yet outgrown his Disney/animation phase. In my opinion, Bolt was far better. DreamWorks is good sometimes (SHREK 1 and 2, KUNG FU PANDA, OVER THE HEDGE), but Madagascar 2 was absolutely awful. The lemurs and the penguins were the only good parts. Ben Stiller is starting to bore me, and I expected better from Chris Rock. Despite the great cast, the hippo and the giraffe falling in love was totally stupid and illogical. Disney hasn't been great either as of late. They've watered down their movies, and the villains are no longer genuinely awesome, like Maleficent, Jafar, Ursula, etc. Beverly Hills Chihuahua likely gave me an aneurysm, and it was clear that Jamie Lee Curtis and Drew Barrymore were in it for the paychecks, and it only sucks money from your own (hence my created term for such movies: paycheck-grabbers). As much as I abhor Miley Cyrus, this movie was good for other reasons: the psychotic hamster made me laugh, Susie Essman as the cat was pretty decent, although the predictable Disney plot kind of bored me. Overall, Bolt was better. I'm sad that I (and anyone else) had to sit through Madagascar 2 and Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
  • Ian
    Just my 2 cents- I saw Madagascar 2 and was entertained more by the lemur and penguins than I was the rest of the movie. Hate on Madagascar all you want, but you can't deny the fact that the penguins and Sacha Baron Cohen are hilarious. Now, I haven't seen Bolt, and quite frankly have no desire to. John Travolta is good, yes, but Miley Cyrus and the rest of the movie look un-interesting to me. Hey, maybe I'm an un-educated bumbling moron about this stuff, but I can't help but think how much better Disney would be if Walt was still around. Look at Disney channel now compared to when Walt was around. Now we have Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, and all these other money making machines that are just brainwashing little kids even further. Call me a little kid if you want (I'm 15), but I don't like how Disney has gone down the tubes (imo). Yes, Disneyland and all that jazz is still great and I still enjoy, but look at Disney TV. /pathetic rant rebuttal
  • efraincarreon
    i would have loved to have seen bolt. it really does seem like a much better and entertainin than madagascar
  • twispious
    saw bolt and i felt bored the whole way,there was movement but no real adventure in the plot-the 3 main characters were cute and occasionally entertaining,but held no real uniqueness.and every other character in the movie was one-dimensional,so the movie was unimpressive even in 3d and the voice acting below par.i would rather have seen madagascar 2,on the basis that the first one was hugely enjoyable alone.
  • TBone
    Ok...I apologize if someone already pointed this out, but after reading the first 15 or 20 comments I just gave up and had to point out the obvious, well obvious if you know how to think. Bolt...is for younger kids. Twilight...is for older kids. Neither...is for adults, sorry. My point is the fact that they opened on the same weekend is not an excuse for Bolt not doing well. They are different target audiences. Also look at the success of the first Madagascar.
  • http://www.avatarmoviezone.com Chris G.
    Well, Bolt actually saw increased business over the holiday weekend, performing slightly better than it did its first weekend, which is a really cool thing. I think word of mouth, the family appeal of the film, and the 3D factor will lead to it having very strong legs at the box office and potentially nearly matching Madagascar. Look up Beowulf and Journey to the Center of the Earth on boxofficemojo, both of those films received a 3D release along with their regular release. Just for some states, if you look from Beowulf, to Journey, to Bolt, you'll see that not only did the number of 3D theaters they were playing with increase, but also, the box office legs of the films have steadily increased due to 3D, Beowulf and Journey both saw fairly small drops going into their 2nd weekends, and now Bolt has actually managed to have a 2nd weekend out perform its first weekend. It'll hold strong over the holidays too, and the 3D factor will only lead to more success. As an animated film, it may not be a huge hit, but for the Digital 3D genre as a whole, its going to be yet another installment that surpasses the film that came before.
  • hawk
    funny you should quote Roger Ebert...he liked Madagascar 2.
  • LeeMan
    first of all alex, don't rant like what you are saying is pure fact. saying madagascar is much better than bolt is just an opinion, and you shouldn't take the situation so seriously anyway, there are many reason y bolt did not do as well 1- madagascar is an established franchise 2- there werent many kids movies out when mad 2 came out, so the demand was bigger 3- twilight took away a few fans 4- most familes cant spend their money on both films, so they obviously went to the one that came out first 5- bolt played in over 400 less thaters than mad 2 and finally... 6- i do agree that bolt made a little less money than i woulda thought, but alex go on any website and you'll see that the average opening weekend prediction for mad 2 was around 60M, wheres botl's was around 40M, so no one really even expected bolt, which is a new,original movie to soar as high as mad 2, a well established franchise with a built in kid audience. see?
  • xCloudbox
    I'm tired of everyone using the excuse that Miley Cyrus and John Travolta are the reason that Bolt did not do well. Maybe there are people who didn't go see it simply because of these actors, but that's just stupid. They're just VOICE acting, they're not really even in the movie. And Miley Cyrus is barely in the movie to begin with. She honestly doesn't have that much screen-time. I think, and this has been mentioned, that more people went to see Madagascar 2 because they saw (and possibly liked) the first one, instead of choosing a movie they're unsure of, such as Bolt. I'm not sure about other parts of the country, but where I live, at least on TV, I didn't see a lot of advertisement for Bolt either. The only reason I knew about it in the first place was seeing a trailer for it before the Dark Knight way back in July. Most people I told to go see it had never even heard of it. My girlfriend and I saw it and we loved it. She went into it not wanting to see it and came out of it wanting to see it again. We laughed A LOT and we even cried a bit. I thought it was fantastic and I would never step foot into a theater to watch a Madagascar film.
  • Jojo
    I agree. Madagascar blows. Bolt was great and Australia was amazing. Fox actually finally had second great movie of the year after Horton.
  • tzarinna
    Alex, you want to share a picture of your dog? :( ;) I saw both. I think "Madagascar 2" was a better send off for Bernie Mac, more so than "Soul Men". It could've been a lot better but I did laugh. My god the possibilities if they let Sacha Baron Cohen on a longer leash. :o I think "Bolt" is kind of like "Wall-E" it could very easily go over kids heads. Besides, 3D movies are way more expensive. My friend treated me, but was completely unaware of this and was pretty disgusted, lol. I wanted to go to a matinee but she wanted to tag along, so we ended up going to a later show, kaching.
  • tzarinna
    Oops, I forgot to say that I really liked "Bolt", really cute, 3D was very low key. Rhino stole the spotlight, and I choked up a couple of times. Reminded me of "Homeward Bound"
  • Will S.
    @ 63 He put "rant" in the title for a reason. To forewarn readers that what they are about to read may not be 100% justified or true. It's a rant, not necessarily an argument. However, I totally agree with his sentiment. Bolt was a great movie when compared to the pile of crap that was Madagascar.
  • dasong
    this is exactly how i've felt about dreamsworks for the past decade... every film they've made is to just make money... they're boring, cliche and sickening... almost every pixar movie that has a great story is mimicked by dreamworks version that tries to relate to the audience by being culturally "relevant" instead of telling a damn story... what made me really sick was shrek 2 and 3... absolute garbage with a plethora of placed ads (sponsorships)... here's a brief comparison that still sickens me today... while pixar hires the occasional blockbuster star (kevin spacey), you can tell they do that with discretion and it doesn't usually go to the main character's role. toy story - Toy Soldiers (COME ON!!!) a bug's life - antz (stallone, woody allen, gene hackman, dan aykroyd, jlo, sharon stone, christopher walken) monster's inc (one of the most creative stories ever) - shrek (let's hire mike meyers and cameron diaz and eddie murphie and place a lot of ads) nemo (story story story) - shark tale (let's hire will smith, jack black, robert deniro, angelina jolie and make some more money with an inferior story) i'm just surprised dreamworks didn't come out with "Indy Cars!!!" starring Keanu Reeves to rival Cars. And I'm waiting for them to release a "robot" movie to ride the Wall-e bandwagon even though it's 6 months late. If they hire enough stars, they just might make some money.
  • ScottyR
    Gasp! Nooooooo! American movie goers have no taste in family films! Breaking news if the world hadn't bowed down to Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Anyone wanna go see Synecdoche New York? Or bitch about the Punisher? I just don't care about Madagascar 2 OR Bolt!
  • dave13
    *cries* But Bolt was so amazing! it will always be the case, sadly. american movie goers are a bunch of snot nosed idiots. though to be fair Alex, you complain about not enough people going to see a movie, but you have no reviews for said movie. I feel like if you wanted people to see a movie badly enough to rant about idiot movie goers, you should have instead written an amazing review of Bolt.
  • Samm
    Yes Madagascar 2 is really bad, but you come off a bit nearsighted by saying DreamWorks only makes "big gimmicks". Shrek 1 and 2 were very good, and Kung Fu Panda was entertaining as well.
  • ShriekoftheVulture
    "it will always be the case, sadly. american movie goers are a bunch of snot nosed idiots." Oh Yes, they're idiots because what YOU find funny is different to what they find funny. Moron.
  • Vader
    Nothing to see here, people liked a different movie then the OP, qq moar get over it.
  • Dusty
    I have always hate the Thanksgiving release spot... I am too busy recovering from the stomach aches to give two craps about what movie is on... We are going to BOlt this weekend... too much in a holiday weekend.
  • Subbu
    Guess Mad-2 is just worth for watching the feats of Lemur (King Julien) ;-) I enjoyed it, so no issues... Btw bolt 3D has nothing in special than Bolt non-3D; somebody can correct me if I am wrong.
  • Jack Meoff
    Dude... Dreamworks made SHREK.
  • viral
    "But now that they've transplanted the heart and soul of Pixar into the studio that Walt Disney built, they've started making movies with heart and out of pure passion for telling great stories. Jeffrey Katzenberg and DreamWorks Animation are doing just the opposite." jeez did someone steal your lollypop! that has got to be the worst ranting ever and mind you i have read through a lot of rants on this site... offcourse there are going to be people who say that this is his site and he can say what he wants and all that... but honestly you say you are saddened that bolt didnt make the same amount of money as madagascar 2 made and then you go on lavishing platitudes about the philantrophic nature of the disney movies? honestly i havent read a more convoluted sense of reasoning... if it were only for "pure passion for telling great stories" they should hold free screenings... i love this site for its trailers etc... but honestly this is just weird...
  • josephus
    I think we are talking about Apples and Oranges here. Two different kid shows with different story types, all for the love of money. I went to see both Madagascar 2 and Bolt and thought they were both really good, but for different reasons. The penguins and their antics make the Madagascar series. They are the sole reason I put up with it. The other characters do nothing for me. My children however were more attentive and interested in this movie than Bolt because there was more movement, music, and silly things to laugh at. It is mindless, and that is what makes it great as a KIDS movie. If you have children or been with kids a lot, then you know that you might have about 30 seconds to a minutes worth of their attention when you're giving them instructions or asking questions - that's if you're lucky - and shows that don't keep that attention become boring and a waste of time for them. Kids don't want to think about a war on terror, the environmental decay of our world, or about their dog being lost, they (especially really small kids) want to just jump up and down and have fun and play. That is what makes Madagascar 2 a moneymaker. Parents see their kids are happy and having fun, like we did when we watched Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry (now those were wholesome cartoons, right?), and so they facilitate their children because they want to see that. Bolt on the other hand was a bit more serious with a great story and better story telling. The character creation with the cat really adding to Bolt as a character at a constant rate, and that awesome hamster popping out with one liners, made the seriousness bearable for me. My children were really quiet throughout the movie, except to laugh at the hamster when he would say his lines. Wall-E recieved comments from viewers on firstshowing.net concerning the serious content of the movie in spite of how good it was. Bolt is in the same boat in some sense because even if it is closer to the human heart than Wall-E, it is a movie that can require some parental guidance due to the loss of a loved one (pet), and potential for death in the story line. My daughter, for example, cried when Bolt found that he had been replaced after traveling acorss the country, and cried harder when he was trying to save his master from the fire in the studio. She was balling in fact because she thought they were dead. Overall, though, my family loved Bolt as much as they loved Madagascar 2 - but for different reasons. The reasons for the poor turn out may be because of Twilight or whatever, but it also may have been because our economy is not doing so well and families are living on budgets that may only allow them to see a movie in a theater once a month or even two months. With Madagascar 2 coming out before Bolt, maybe we all couldn't afford to make it. My family did a rare thing in attempting to see both movies, and it definnately cost us.
  • Tyler
    I think this has taken "overthinking it" to a new level. This movie made more than bolt because children see the comercials and say "ANIMALS!!!!!", not "which film is better on an intellectual level?"...come on...
  • http://www.feoamante.com Feo Amante
    TYLER! Knock it off with the rational statements! This is a fan site! Fan as in Fanatic! We're fanatics here! We're arguing over the intellectual merits of cartoon animals! The subtext of this is the fall of American culture and society due to their appreciation of one form of animal cartoon over the other. There is no room for reason here! I don't want to have to tell you again!
  • Chris
    Alex great artical I agree 100% However the rating of it may have hurt it. I am in Canada and it was rated PG not G that parents like me prefer to take their kids too. Now we did go and loved it. my kids were glued to the screen. and i loved it.
  • jrat
    $80,000,000 in what, like 3-4 weeks. How the hell is that a flop? Confusitron.
  • http://www.somnicelestia.deviantart.com Sean Cruz
    Wow, I completely agree. Disney and Pixar have always had the power of great story-telling and along with it, the creativity to capture the imaginations of little kids and even adults such as myself! I am an artist and it is my dream to one day work for Disney and Pixar and I prefer Pixar way over Dreamwoks. But it is truly sad how washed and shallow the American moviegoers are; their idea of entertainment has been so twisted and broken it's not even funny. Nowadays, who cares about important values such as love, selflessness, true friendship, honesty? So many people just rather see the opposite: self-centeredness, sneaky lies, cheap sex, and fights. It's truly sad. And I believe the media is to blame. All our shows, many celebrities, many people who are supposed to be our role models, are self-centered and involve themselves in all manners of unhealthy lifestyles. They all promote self-preservation and it just keeps brainwashing people.
  • http://www.feoamante.com Feo Amante
    Yeah, these dang ol' American audiences man! They just make my blood boil! My left arm go numb! Also I taste copper! Clunk! But you know, AUSTRALIA isn't do so well among Australian audiences either. (according to webwombat.com.au) Despite being on far more screens than any other movie in recent history, it fell in ticket sales 30% in its second week. Its at #1 in Australia, but for perspective, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 and FOUR HOLIDAYS (What they call FOUR CHRISTMASES in Australia) are doing better in per screen ticket sales. SHREK 3 was a huge hit world wide and MADAGASCAR 2 is doing well in Phillippines. But no, its just us lousy dumb American audiences. Oh why CAN'T we be as brilliant as the rest of the world? Spoiled, selfish, vicious, AND self-loathing: that's one heady combination!
  • Zach
    Criticizing audiences for liking "inferior material" is an indicator a reviewer isn't actually reviewing movies for other people. Once you start issuing statements such as: you need to realize that you're not actually doing a review of the mechanical quality (how good was the writing? Were the effects clever?) of the movie, you're simply issuing an opinion. Any regular person can issue an opinion regarding the entertainment value of the movie, and it would be as valid as yours. I don't know who you're reviewing movies for, it's certainly not for families with young children (who, quite obviously, judge Bolt's storyline/trailer to be inferior to Madagascar's storyline/trailer).
  • jimmy
    Bolt is incredible and both madagascar movies suck. It comes down to marketing, Madagascar started earlier, had an established name, etc. etc.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net/2008/12/01/rant-how-did-bolt-flop-but-madagascar-2-flourish/ b2radar
    dude madagascar way better.i havent seen both movies but i think bolt is just _ _ _ _ _. most people watch trailers before movies and look at mad 2's trailers.kids would just love mad.i am 9 and i am going to watch mad 2. i am in aus.american movie goers are just retarted because u said. well thats not true for some people but i agree with u guys for other movies.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net/2008/12/01/rant-how-did-bolt-flop-but-madagascar-2-flourish/ b2radar
    i have now seen mad and think about 3/30 parts of this movie are good.i have also seen bolt and think WHERE IS THE HUMOUR?????????????????????? i personally think mad 2 average but bolt:BOOO! mad 2 average but the parts which were good ruled like hell. p.s.not only little kids like the i like 2 move it song.
  • Jammet
    Come on, this isn't traditional animation any longer. Disney was great when they made movies like the Lion King or The Beauty and the Beast. Dreamworks also made fantastic animated movies, though a bit more fast paced - usually. Except maybe the Prince of Egypt. Comparing CG animated movies is getting tedious, however. Okay, Bolt clearly is the better movie among these two. Still, in todays world of 'bigger, cheaper, faster, funnier', it doesn't have the charme we used to enjoy when movies were still animated with pencils and maybe computer aided colourising. You just don't have the same freedoms. Of course I'm biased here. You are, too, in your article. Brooding with hatred towards Dreamworks, that's just plain not being fair, no matter how hard you try. Madagascar 2 is a splendid movie, very funny, poking fun at rather unusual topics, keeping things a bit more fresh. And guess what, that's not the first time Disney made a fantastic and/or superior movie, *and* still failed to get the public attention it deserved. This happens to every other movie, by the way. Can't watch them all.
  • Jordan
    Now that Bolt has been out for a while and is now released on DVD, Bolt has made over $280 million WORLDWIDE, compare that to High School Musical 3 which only made $225 million worldwide, it was only like $30 million short of making what Twilight grossed worldwide. Also remember Bolt had like half of the hype all of these films had so in short, Bolt did not flop and acutally did better than most films. Also you have to remember it opened behind 2 BIG movies, and it had a steady gross.
  • http://www.feoamante.com Feo Amante
    Now that both have been out for a while I saw BOLT twice and Mad2 once. I don't suspect I'll be seeing Mad 2 again, but if my nieces and nephews want me to watch BOLT with them again, I'll do it. It ain't Pixar (but Disney is getting closer. Thank you John Lasseter!), but it was way better than Mad2.
  • Angelea
    wow dude you should name this article "why I hate madagascar" i saw madagascar and some parts made me cry which is good cuase its hard to make me cry yea the movie may have bad morals but what movies dont ...just turn on your tv and you will see bolt was a fantastic movie but you cant compare it to any other movie because of its originality the only way you caould possibly compare it to something ...it would be by maybe a sequel dreamwork and pixar are both doing good with movie making and stop critisising people b/c they want to go see a movie
  • zachary
    BOLT!!! BOLT!!! I TOTALLY LOVE THE MOVIE! madagasgar 2 SUCKS!!! i saw BOLT like 7 times in the theaters. but madagascar 2 i ON PURPOSE saw it ONCE!!! madagascar 2 = :( BOLT = :) i am watching BOLT on dvd as i type! BOLT is so BE-AWESOME. i am glad my family does not have madagascar 2 on dvd. and i can not believe that in kca. BOLT LOST over madagascar 2! i promise that if there is going to be a BOLT 2. i will spend my allowance every two weeks(since my sister does not work at monaco theaters anymore) to see it a lot more then once. p.s. never forget BOLT!!!
  • Brian
    I agree 100%, Madagascar 2 was a shallow sequal to a mediocre film, really nothing more than a cash in. Bolt on other hand is the first Disney film in years that I truly enjoyed, it had humor, action and a lot heart.
  • http://www.animationsource.org/ steet
    Madagscar and its sequel are very poor films, and I couldn't agree more with you. Especially on the scenario side. Although I didn't like Bolt that much either...I prefer traditional animated films like they did in the 90's over ANYTHING 3D which all have poor stories. But I'll admit Bolt was better than the average. BTW, go there to find fansites on animated films.
  • http://www.animationsource.org/ steet
    Oh, and we're talking about Bolt there!
  • Daniel Rossam
    madagascar.. totally no moral taught just a cheap piece of joke.. But Bolt.. teaches about Love and to be strong. either way Twillight.. talk.. talk.. and talk.. Bolt is the choice and wil make a great Disney Series
  • brian577
    A series? God no! Bolt was great but a series would just cheapen it, fortunately thanks to Lasseter Disney no longer makes bad "direct to DVD sequels" of it's feature films. I would never, ever, EVER watch a sequel because I know it would just be a cheap cash in.
  • DISNEY THE BEST
    Madagascar 2, I hate it. BAD, BAD BAD!!!! Bolt, I love it. GOOD, GOOD GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • ben
    bolt was 10 times better than madigasca i liked madigasca but it wasnt as good as bolt. bolt is one i could watch agien and agien but madigasca isnt.
  • Minez
    While Bolt is excellent, close to ingenious, Madagascar was a loud, blatant, stupid, obnoxious mix of colors, loud music and ugly characters I wouldn't subject myself to again for money. Bolt is a cute, warm and fuzzy movie with that certain Pixar charm. It was quick, fast-paced and intelligent with a whole lot of laughs packed into it. A by far superior movie by all standards. Once again, I cannot overstate how much I agree with you Alex. Nor can I overstate the importance of choosing high quality entertainment over the mindless crap known as Madagascar.
  • Foxfirecyberninja
    No, they intended it as a homage to Animaniacs.
  • Foxfirecyberninja
    No, Dreamworks pretty much sucks
  • Foxfirecyberninja
    And yet all the voice actors working on Bolt, except for one, are extremely famous.
  • Guest
    I know I'm late here, but I just wanted to say that I agree 100% with Alex. Bolt was a wonderful, intelligent movie filled with heart, warmth, and endearing characters. Also, anyone who doesn't want to see this film just because Miley Cyrus and John Travolta are voices in it, are just being shallow little pieces of shit. Bolt was a good movie, and that's that. Everyone whom I have personally talked to about it has enjoyed the film. Thank you so much for this post Alex, and thank for recognizing that Madagascar 2 was a bad, mindless film.
  • Guest
    ...By the way, it doesn't matter if a film is hand-drawn or CGI, the most important thing is the STORY. John Lasseter knows this, and Bolt had a good story. If people don't like a film solely because its CGI, then again, they are just being shallow pieces of shit.

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