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September 05, 2006

Two Disney Movies, Two Titles Containing "9/11," Two Strangely Different Outcomes

Why is the U.S. media such an eternal catastrophe? My standard explanation is that 99% of the disaster can be explained by the fact the media is (mostly) giant corporations, required by law to make as much money as possible. No conspiracy is required.


ABC, after exploring all advertising avenues, has decided to show its upcoming two-part U.S. film, "The Path to 9/11," commercial-free when it airs next week...

In yet another surprise move, ABC has revealed it will also offer both parts of the film as a free online download at Apple's iTunes Music Store and stream the miniseries on its own Web site,

So..."The Path to 9/11" cost $30 million and was written and directed by conservative ideologues. Factually speaking, it's predictably craptastic. And yet Disney is glad to lose at least $30 million on it.

By contrast, this was Disney's treatment of another political movie -- one that eventually grossed over $200 million:

The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Bush, executives at both Disney and Miramax said Tuesday...

A senior Disney executive elaborated that the company had the right to quash Miramax's distribution of films if it deemed their distribution to be against the interests of the company. The executive said Mr. Moore's film is deemed to be against Disney's interests not because of the company's business dealings with the government but because Disney caters to families of all political stripes and believes Mr. Moore's film, which does not have a release date, could alienate many.

''It's not in the interest of any major corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle,'' this executive said.

So, right wing movie: Disney happily loses $30 million by running directly into a "highly charged partisan political battle."

Left-wing movie: Disney refuses to make gigantic amounts of money because they're so very scared they'll "alienate many."

It's not all about the money.

Posted at September 5, 2006 11:19 PM | TrackBack

Greenwald and Digby are positing this is meant to help end the LunaXian boycotts of the bicoastal Amusement Shakedowns.

I think the idea is this: Disney shit is corny, but not in the self-conscious, ironic, or hipster kinds-of way. Straight-up, "over lips, over gums, look out stomach here it comes" corny. Even De La Soul isn't Disney corny.

And who should be able to be counted on as the biggest cornaholics in this country? The traditionalists, pining for some 1950s... well... Disneyland version of reality. But aparently one of them got seen at one of Disney's "teh gay" days, and suddenly it's all about soddomy, and how that awesome purple stuffed dragon is Satanic and pro-drug and stuff, rather than dropping a thousand dollars to get high on Snow White memories in a totally non-ironic fashion!

So there probably is a business case to be made for appealing to the Dobson zombies.

Posted by: James Cape at September 6, 2006 04:02 AM

Weird, uh. I don't know if the media are conservative, but they sure seem to be Republican.

Maybe spending $30mil to help the Repubs is consistent with the requirement to make as much money as possible?

Posted by: abb1 at September 6, 2006 07:03 AM

sk, Cape, Scruggs,

Corporate profit and corporate interests aren't always about selling something or marketing a product set to a specific audience. Most business is about extracting rent from a position of limited monopoly control. That's essential how oil companies make money. You want to drive your car? You pay the price for the fluid that makes it go. You want some nutritional value in your food products? You pay the vig to ADM for the synthetic vitamin package that you can mix into your batter.

I don't think it takes a genius to see that Disney needs big help on Copyright issues, (gotta keep control of Mickey and Snow White), Broadcasting rights (ESPN is now a disney property), among other things and the best way to do that is to get some credits into the old PR bank account from the political party that's most likely to uphold, defend, and extend their existing monopolies.

There was a reason that Abramoff and others came out of Microsoft's PR shop before going full blown lobbiest. Remember that not so subtle and quite bothersome anti-trust suit in the Clinton era?

There is a reason Verizon and friends are cozying up to Ted Stevens to try to push through a teired pricing model for internet service.

Monopolists know who is the sugar daddy.

I know I'm being unfair by singling out to republicans, but the official narrative is that the Dems are the populist party so when they do this they don't do it as nakedly as the republicans are doing things right now.

Posted by: patience at September 6, 2006 07:18 AM

So when do the shareholders start standing up and pitching a fit? Isn't that supposed to be how this capitalism thing works...thekeez

Posted by: Jeff Keezel at September 6, 2006 11:01 AM

They are striving for the long-term goal of big money, not the short-term goals of making little chunks of money off individual movies.

In the long-term, the corporate government (which is what capitalism has evolved into in the US) earns that big money for corporations. So, even if the corporations lose money on individual pieces of propaganda, they profit in the long-run by supporting corporate government.

I don't know if any of this is reversible, absent revolution.

Posted by: blondie at September 6, 2006 02:13 PM

No comment on the big picture question of media motives, but pulling commercials from a controversial program is a good way to protect your sponsors (and thus yourself) from a boycott. It's a lot harder to target an entire network's group of sponsors.

Was it CBS that was forced to give Showtime the movie about Reagan because right wingers threw a fit that James Brolin ("Mr. Barbra Streisand") was playing Reagan?

Posted by: Whistler Blue at September 6, 2006 03:10 PM

Jonathan, this biased analysis overlooks the fact that Michael Moore is considerably overweight.

Posted by: Michael Bérubé at September 6, 2006 06:49 PM

Come on guys. Disney is fully controlled and has been since Walt's days. This is nothing but a zionist propaganda arm. They made a movie about freemasonry for chrissakes! (National Treasure) Making it out to be heroic.

Posted by: sf55 at September 7, 2006 12:26 AM

Bin Laden set out to battle the Infidels and all he got was a lousy Mickey Mouse T-shirt.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at September 7, 2006 09:43 AM

A minor $30 million investment by Disney in the 9/11 Flim of Lies will get them back (conservatively) $3 billion in revenue from copyright extensions and other corporate-guarantee-of-profit bills which will be passed by their sock-puppets in Washington.

That 30 mil is an investment which will (if the Repubbies retain control of the Houses) return 10,000 per cent. A return, which, by the way, is so extreme that it's not capitalistic; it is a magnitude of return which can only be defined as "theft".

Posted by: Hairhead at September 7, 2006 04:39 PM

All the self interest comments may be true, but what if... the leadership is simply conservative? As in, they buy the line that the country was saved by the strong hand of our current president? I don't know if I think that Walt Disney is run by coolheaded machiavellians who, looking calmly at both sides of the issue, decide to lean right because it will get them IP money. If they leaned left and helped the Dems by making a movie that showed Bush calmly cutting brush while CIA guys followed him around, begging him to read the big memo that Bin Laden was planning to attack ("We shortened the words, Mr. President. There are no hard words in the whole document") what happens -- the Dems come in and they say, oh, we are ideologically opposed to rewarding businesses that helped us?
I don't think that's the Democratic party we've ever seen. Does anybody remember Hollings (D), known as the Senator from Walt Disney?
So perhaps ... those corporate honchos are believers.
I know, it is too simple. Yet it may be the case that a considerable part of the upper 1 percentile believes and acts like Cheney. Maybe the image of Limbaugh's audience being blue collar gulls, while the white collar folks really know what is going on is a crock.

Posted by: roger at September 7, 2006 11:13 PM

"No one could have predicted that terrorists would fly dumbo jets into buildings"

Posted by: disneycorpse at September 10, 2006 12:24 AM

What will all this controversy amount to when terrorists pull off another major attack? With the enemy planning the next phase (it is only a matter of time), with the whole mideast falling deeper into chaos than ever, how will anyone be able to rationalize why the US government's concern now is over horse slaughtering?

Posted by: S Robidoux at September 10, 2006 11:39 AM