This has to be a disappointment, and, frankly, I'm surprised. Disney's The Princess and the Frog has finally reached the $100 million mark in its ninth week. For such a high profile movie - the return of Disney feature animation - this is just a shock.
I haven't seen this movie yet, but in all honesty, I haven't been to the movies since Ponyo back in August. I just haven't had the time or money. Besides, a Disney fairy tale isn't exactly my angle (I'd rather watch documentaries and spin Miles Davis records); but I did expect this movie to be a big hit with families, and that doesn't appear to have happened.
Disney has now released two hand-drawn animation films - Ponyo, Princess and the Frog - to great critical acclaim, but tepid support at the box office. Is there a rational explanation for this? Could things have played out differently? How much did Alvin & the Chipmunks and James Cameron's Avatar influence matters? Perhaps in this economy, there just wasn't enough money to go around.
My concern is that executives will see this as further evidence that the public is no longer interested in hand-drawn animation. Disney's next feature, Rapunzel, is GCI, and that's a telling sign. Princess and the Frog was a return to Disney's roots, but it was also a risky experiment. It was like Chaplin's City Lights and Modern Times, silent film masterpieces in the age of sound. Between Pixar and Avatar, it will be very tempting for business minds to pull the plug on traditional animation entirely. I hope that doesn't come to pass.