Disney exec says storytelling is B.S. when it comes to B.O.

Contributed by
Dec 15, 2012

Everyone knows that if you make a movie with a good story, people will flock to see it. Right? Well, one studio executive begs to differ.

According to Variety, Walt Disney Animation Studios chief technical officer Andy Hendrickson was giving a talk at an international conference and said that the studio's focus going forward will be on making "tentpole" movies—in other words, big-budget blockbusters. Or, as Hendrickson described them:

"A tentpole film is one where you can seed the desire to see the film to everyone in every distribution channel. It's the only kind of film you can spend $100 million marketing."

Since there are more movies coming out than ever before, but the number of tickets being sold has not grown much since 2005, Hendrickson's reasoning is that the only kind of movies that really get a huge amount of butts in seats are behemoths like Pirates of the Caribbean and the latest superhero epic.

In fact, Hendrickson said, you don't even need a good story to get people to come to one of these films: "People say 'It's all about the story.' When you're making tentpole films, bulls**t." He pointed to Disney's own Alice in Wonderland ($1 billion at the box office) as an example, saying, "The story isn't very good, but visual spectacle brought people in droves. And Johnny Depp didn't hurt."

Yes, Andy, but what about other Disney projects like, say, Tron: Legacy? The story was pretty lame for that one, and while it did okay, it didn't exactly blow out the box office—otherwise a sequel would already be filming by now.

Is this an example of cynical Hollywood thinking—that you just put flash and spectacle on the screen and people will watch any old crap? And if not, how can you argue with the kind of money that a truly rotten movie like Alice in Wonderland made? Is a good story important to you?

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