Wall Street Thinks Geezer Film Won’t Sell

Earlier, I wrote about Pixar animation studio’s new film, Up, which features as its main character a 78-year-old “curmudgeon” who rebels against being put in a nursing home. While it’s done well with critics and audiences, not everyone, apparently, is happy with the idea of a geezer-centered animated film. According to the New York Times, “To the extreme irritation of the Walt Disney Company [which owns Pixar], two important business camps — Wall Street and toy retailers — are notably down on ‘Up.’”

Apparently, Wall Street believes that the key audience for Pixar films–pre-pubescent males–won’t be interested in a flick about a grumpy old man.

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.

Worse still, no one is going to want to buy a geezer action figure, or any of the other spinoffs that often end up making more money than the movie itself does.

Retailers, meanwhile, see slim merchandising possibilities for “Up.” Indeed, the film seems likely to generate less licensing revenue than “Ratatouille,” until now the weakest Pixar entry in this area. (“Cars” wears the merchandising crown, with sales of more than $5 billion.)

Target and Wal-Mart say they will stock little “Up” merchandise, mainly because there was not much interest from manufacturers: Thinkway Toys, which has churned out thousands of Pixar-related products since 1995’s “Toy Story,” will not produce a single item. Disney Stores will offer “Up”-related products, but even that will be on a limited basis, according to analysts.

So talking toys and cars sell, but haute-cuisine French rats and pissed-off old codgers are a bust.

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