Pixar and Disney at odds over Big Oil

Pixar and Disney at odds over Big Oil

Cars 2 Lightning McQueen Mater

Pixar’s John Lasseter wants to save the planet. The folks at Disney, which owns Pixar, want to turn a profit.

Can’t they all just get along?

The villain in Pixar’s new “Cars 2″ feature, opening June 24 is … wait for it … Big Oil.

Shocked? Anyone who saw Pixar’s “Wall*E,” with its slams against consumerism, shouldn’t be. But while Pixar films try to work their way into the hearts and minds of a gazillion kiddies, their corporate string pullers are squeezing every last cent out of the Pixar franchises. And burning plenty of non-alternative fuel in the process, no doubt.

Listen to Lasseter tell the Wall Street Journal about his intentions regarding “Cars 2.”

We revamped the whole story, the whole bad-guy arc. To me, there always needs to be a logic to our movies. No matter what subject matter it is, they have to be logical for the world we’re creating. I kept thinking about, “OK. A spy movie in the world where cars are alive. What would be a really good kind of über bad guy? Who is an über bad guy?” I kept going to big oil. This is before what happened in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why isn’t alternative fuel more… Why isn’t everybody jumping on that bandwagon? It makes so much sense: Electricity, solar, whatever. There’s ethanol. There’s all this stuff you could be doing. And so I thought, well, that could be really cool in that you could have big oil versus alternative fuel. That’s when we kind of crafted the bad guy’s story.

Never mind Lasseter’s warped logic regarding the current potential alternative fuels have for feeding the world’s energy needs. Doesn’t he realize how much oil will be burned bringing “Cars 2″ merchandise to the marketplace?

Should Lasseter, CEO of Pixar and director of “Cars 2,” be criticized for trumpeting green causes while helping Disney burn so much energy for a profit? Would love to hear an opposing view … let ‘er rip!

And please inform Jon Stewart, who still thinks Hollywood isn’t an ideologically-driven dream factory, about Lasseter’s motivations.

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(Photo: Grem (voice by Joe Mantegna), Acer (voice by Peter Jacobson), Siddeley (voice by Jason Isaacs), Lightning McQueen (voice by Owen Wilson), Mater (voice by Larry the Cable Guy), Finn McMissile (voice by Sir Michael Caine) bring “Cars 2″ to life. ©Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

KNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 2:43 am

Sad. I was really looking forward to this movie: something without superheros that was just fun and friendly and not agenda driven.

Remember the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” show? It was created by Jay Ward who was a conservative. He hired liberal writer Bill Scott and they worked together. The show hit both conservative and liberal targets and was all the funnier for it. I wonder how many open conservatives work for PIXAR?

cftotoNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 3:01 am

The agenda doesn’t ruin the film … your appreciation of it shouldn’t hang on this plot point. But it’s worth noting all the same … my ‘official’ review comes this Friday.

Brian K HinesNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 3:07 am

Wow, did Pixar just hit the bottom of the creativity well and keep digging? Lasseter thought it would be ‘cool’ to pit Big Oil against alternative fuel? Yeah, Syriana. Cool movie that one was. I kind of had a feeling that Pixar was tapping out. Cars 2? Monsters University? Brave? As sad as it is to say, sounds like their run is just about over. Especially when their core audience is already sick of hearing about the evil of the people who fuel their SUVs so they can take their kids to soccer and heat their homes so they can sit down and enjoy American Idol.

JohnFNWayneNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 3:49 am

Has a solid 89 at Rotten Tomatoes. Usually Pixar movies run above 90. I really enjoyed the first “Cars.” I like it more with each viewing. The small-town atmosphere, friendship themes, and obvious targeting of young, energetic, boys makes it right up my inner-child’s alley and I think it’s vastly underrated and undervalued. Some critics never warmed to the original. I always thought it had something to do with Larry the Cable Guy.

As far as marketing goes, this has to be Pixar’s most successful movie. Of the boys in the family under the age of four, I bet a third of all their toys are “Cars” related in some fashion.

EricPNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 6:41 am

Annnnnnd so much for seeing this in the theatres. Then again, while I could technically walk to my local theatre (and typically do — oooooh, a conservative who actually cares about the environment … and occasional exercise), maybe I’ll drive around the block before seeing a matinee. Nah, judging from the words of Lasseter, a guy who we all seemingly thought had his finger on the pulse of middle America and not failed energy ideas which have been around since I was seeing Dinsey movies at the drive-in, Cars 2′ll be best saved for streaming video on Netflix. Can’t have extra DVDs manufactured on my behalf now, can I?

KNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 6:45 am

The agenda doesn’t ruin the film

Thanks in part to numerous “message” films and TV shows, the state of California can now instantaneously turn off the power to my house at the whim of a bureaucrat. The bill for gas and electricity is through the roof and my government mandated toilet and washing machine are achieving third world levels of service. Most likely, this is just the beginning.

I’m beginning to feel like an undesirable in 1934 Germany – so when there’s a product placement ad for the Hitlerjungen in a movie I’m watching, I’m frankly not all that consoled if the message itself seamlessly advances the story or not.

cftotoNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm

K – I understand. I feel it’s my duty to be as fair as possible to the movies I cover. So if a film has a message I disagree with but still delivers the entertainment, I’ll say so. It’s certainly your choice not to support these films. It makes sense.

LizNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm

So Lasseter is taking NASCAR-based characters, set in a 1950’s style town that depends on business from road tripping visitors, and injecting it with a 21st century anti-fossil fuel message? This is not just disappointing, it defies logic.

the permanent newbieNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Heck, I’d take this farther. These are sentient cars we’re talking about here. The equivalent in a movie with human characters (as in 99% of the form) would be a spy story with the villains being a consortium of greedy, wicked, conspiratorial … farmers. Ooooo-kay.

MattNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I’m beginning to feel like an undesirable in 1934 Germany

Really?
Godwin’s law is still in effect while discussing a kids movie?
Seriously?

Look, maybe this is a misstep from Pixar and maybe not. I have had my doubts going in to past Pixar films and always walk out happy.

Personally I don’t see the need to shield my kids from ideas. If my 5 year old daughter wants to discuss the issues surrounding energy I am happy to do so but I suspect she just wants to go see Lightening McQueen and Mater, and laugh for a little while.

Besides, when my kids are old I really hope that through innovation this discussion is completely irrelevant. They can look back and think about laughing at animated cars. Not big oil vs alternative fuels.

Mark B. MorrowNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Maybe everyone can just take a deep breath and wait until they have seen the movie before condemning it. At this point, who knows how much of a plot point Big Oil will play. It isn’t as though Big Oil is Mother Theresa anyway.

EricPNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Good point, Mark B, but that’s not what turns me off to seeing this in the theatre. It’s the press junket preaching Lasseter’s pumping out there. Much like I said when the eco-crap spewing from the Inception stars in the run-up to that movie, when will the studios put leashes on their talent? Granted, kinda hard to do in Lasseter’s case, but he’s still not bigger than Disney … technically.

opusNo Gravatar June 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm

It wouldn’t be such a big deal for me if this were an isolated case with Pixar and the film/tv/entertainment industry in general. This type of thing has become so prevelent for so long that I no longer have any patience for it and can’t bring myself to give anyone the benefit of the doubt anymore.
Exposing kids,people or ones self to other ideas is perfectly fine and healthy unless it’s a constant beat, beat , beat of what amounts to propaganda and where ALL other ideas/points of view are not only ignored but villified.

LizNo Gravatar June 22, 2011 at 12:28 am

We’re going to see the movie when it comes out because my son is such a big fan of Cars and PIXAR movies, and I’m sure we’ll enjoy it. It’s just sad that Lasseter has made known his intentional environmental messaging. It seems like there are only two themes in kid’s media nowadays: “It’s OK to be different/Don’t fear the Other”, and “Stop destroying the planet and wasting natural resources”. This is hammered into them at school, on TV, in movies, etc. That PIXAR, who has reliably given us great stories with traditional themes, is embracing eco-evangelism is disappointing.

cftotoNo Gravatar June 22, 2011 at 2:42 am

I think Opus really nails it with his comments. It’s the drip-drip-drip that drives some folks on the Right to distraction.

I’m as big a fan of Pixar films as anyone all the same. Even the blatant anti-consumerism of “Wall*E” didn’t infect my review – the wan second half did, though.

PaulaNo Gravatar June 22, 2011 at 5:29 pm

I would have preferred a sequel to Finding Nemo. I never thought the characters in Cars were that memorable.

jicNo Gravatar June 23, 2011 at 1:02 am

I never thought the characters in Cars were that memorable.

They made a memorable amount of money.

MycroftNo Gravatar June 24, 2011 at 2:54 am

What is it with you guys?
John Lasseter is going after Big Oil and you’re complaining?
Hallelujah!
It’s about time that somebody makes a movie exposing OPEC for the villains they are! Restricting the supply of oil to maintain high prices, using oil revenues to fund extreme Islamic foundations and the violent suppression of their own people. From the Middle East to Venezuela, these cartels are a blight on humanity and I’m proud of Pixar for going after those bastards!
Uh, that is what he’s talking about, right?

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