Disney’s Showcase for 2018 looked like a damp squib to begin with.
Whereas before the House Of Mouse would book a swanky venue, say in Melrose Arch to show off its recent successes and future plans (festooned with toys, clothes and other baubles in glass cases), this year’s event took place at Il Grande, a hub near Monte Casino’s movie metroplex.
Here, there were no toys, no pyjama sets, no plushies or Funko-Pop figurines (well, not at least until the presentation was over). Instead, all the attendees had to look at was a rather rubbish video game and fingerfood.
But then, Disney doesn’t really need to push the boat out any more. Its foothold in Africa is unshakable, and not just because it owns probably the most bankable intellectual properties on the planet – Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar and its own internal studios.
No, as we were told by Disney’s Senior Vice President and Country Manager (I’m assuming SA) – the superbly named Christine Service – Disney can now also lay claim to having the highest-earning film in Africa’s history, Black Panther. According to box office receipts locally, Black Panther cracked the R100 million mark easily in SA and went on to dominate cineplexes in both East and West Africa (we weren’t given a blow-by-blow of countries).
Not only that – Wakanda Forever! – it can also lay claim to Africa’s second-highest-grossing film, Avengers: Infinity War, as well as the highest-grossing animated film of all time in South Africa, The Incredibles 2. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It really is very good.
Disney pumps out joy. This is indisputable.
Between Star Wars, Pixar, the Marvel Universe, the animated films and even the recent live-action re-imaginings of Disney’s animated classics, has there really been a dud?
No. No there hasn’t.
Oh sure, there are those who take issue with the Han Solo origin film because Harrison Ford wasn’t in it. There are those that may take issue with the fact that Ant-Man may have to share top billing with The Wasp (in the title of the film, no less). There are those who take issue with the fact that the next Marvel salvo coming down the pipe is Captain Marvel (not Captain Mar-Vel). But those people are idiots. They’re filed and receipted.
But to listen to Ms Service tell it, Disney’s 2018 showcase sounded less like an enticement towards fun entertainment, and more like a beachhead.
That’s not to say kids (both young and old) aren’t in for a boatload of entertainment in the coming months and the coming year – seriously, if you skip the next Avengers film, you’re being painfully hip in a way that’ll only harm you.
But Disney’s 2018 showcase was less about showing the audience in attendance something new as it was about showing off. I doubt there were many hacks in the auditorium who were aware of Disney’s plans for children’s programming for the next year – and even if there were, they’d have a tough time selling it in to any mainstream publication.
I also doubt there were many journalists in the room who didn’t know how well Disney is doing financially – once again this is public knowledge.
No, the only reason to be in this room, for most of the attendees, was to see something that hasn’t been seen before. To take some tidbit back to our readership to validate our existence.
Here, Disney came up short. Leaving aside the local partnerships, local sponsorship deals and figures that showed Disney is eating up the competition, there was nothing new to report.
The fact that Beyonce and Childish Gambino are in the new Lion King movie was reported last year. The fact that the Artemis Fowl novels are going to be a series of films is old news. The fact that there’s a trailer out there for Dumbo, directed by Tim Burton, is old news. The fact that the new Captain Marvel trailer kicks serious ass … is old news.
There was nothing new.
After running through a presentation of shows and movie trailers that have been doing the rounds since November last year, Service took the audience through a presentation of what Disney was doing for Mickey Mouse’s 90th anniversary – which was summed up in a press release that was sent out two days before this event took place.
It was fitting in a way.
After all this time, they still don’t think we have the internet.