“Quality is the Best Business Plan,” or Even More Proof That the Experts Don’t Know Jack-Jack.


You know those lists of bad predictions from the 1800s and early 1900s, where people who should have known better say stuff like, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers” (Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943), or “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” (H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927)?

Well, add Richard Greenfield of Pali Research, Chris Marangi at Gabelli & Company, and Doug Creutz of Cowen and Company to that esteemed company. Don’t know their names? You better learn ’em while these guys still have jobs: They’re the analysts from that now notorious NY Times article, back in April, “Pixar’s Art Leaves Profit Watchers Edgy,” who predicted doom for Pixar Animation Studio’s 10th feature, Up:

Richard Greenfield of Pali Research downgraded Disney shares to sell last month, citing a poor outlook for “Up” as a reason. “We doubt younger boys will be that excited by the main character,” he wrote, adding a complaint about the lack of a female lead.

Mr. Greenfield is alone in his vociferousness, but not in his opinion.

“People seem to be concerned about this one,” said Chris Marangi, who follows Disney at Gabelli & Company. Doug Creutz of Cowen and Company said qualms ran deeper than whether “Up” will be a hit — he thinks it will — but rather whether Pixar can deliver the kind of megahit it once did.

“The worries keep coming despite Pixar’s track record, because each film it delivers seems to be less commercial than the last,” Mr. Creutz said.

Big freaking yawn. Of course, now, Disney-Pixar can pun, “Up yours!” since, to the surprise of none who’ve seen it, Variety reported yesterday that

After less than a month at the multiplexes, Disney-Pixar’s 3-D toon “Up” has enough lift to likely become the second-highest-grossing Pixar title at the domestic B.O. after “Finding Nemo.”

Through Sunday, “Up’s” domestic total was $187.4 million — the second best of any summer film to date. Par’s “Star Trek” has cumed $231.9 million. …

At the rate it’s going, “Up” will soon surpass the $206.4 million grossed by Pixar’s “Ratatouille” in summer 2007, and the $223.8 million grossed domestically by Pixar’s “Wall-E” last summer.

“Finding Nemo,” released in 2003, cumed $339.7 million domestically. Next-best Pixar grosser is “The Incredibles” at $261.4 million.

Based on its performance, box office observers now believe “Up” has every chance of surpassing “Incredibles.”

john_lasseter_372x495That quote in our hed, “Quality is the best business plan,” is attributed in the Times piece to John Lasseter, right, one of Pixar’s co-founders, and chief creative officer at Disney, post the Mouse’s $7.4B purchase of the famed computer animation company in 2006. It speaks to the focus on making compelling films via captivating stories that has always marked the Pixar way.

Even Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO, seems to be learning how Luxo rolls: “A check-the-boxes approach to creativity is more likely to result in blandness and failure.”

Or, as Up‘s cranky protagonist, Carl Fredericksen, would say to those analysts,



1 comment so far ↓

#1 Ray Winbush on 06.17.09 at 10:07 am

I’ve seen “Up” ***five times***: 3D, Digital, regular and it is indeed a story for the ages…I loved it!!! An adult cartoon that deals with love, loss and commitment.

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