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Will "Enchanted" clean up at the box office this Thanksgiving?

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Will "Enchanted" clean up at the box office this Thanksgiving?

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Giselle28 writes in to say:

I really enjoyed the stories that you recently posted on JHM about "Ratatouille" and "WALL-E." But when are you going to write about the movie that I'm most looking forward to this year, "Enchanted" ? Do you have any new spoilers to share with your readers about this new Kevin Lima film?


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

You could say that.

Last month, I was lucky enough to see a five minute long excerpt from this live action / animated romantic comedy with music. And based on what I saw, "Enchanted" could really be something special.

Of course, before I can discuss this scene, I first have to explain the basic premise behind Walt Disney Pictures' big holiday release for 2007. And -- in order to do that -- I'm going to have to reveal a certain portion of this motion picture's plot.

So if you really don't want to know anything about "Enchanted" before it hits theaters on November 21st, now would be a very good time to bail out of JHM.

 

Still with us? Okay. Here goes ....

 

"Enchanted" opens in the animated fairy tale land of Andalusia. Where the beautiful Princess Giselle ...


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

... has fallen for Edward, the handsome prince of this realm.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Unfortunately, these two's plans to wed upsets Edward's mother, the wicked Queen Narissa.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Since she thinks that no woman is ever good enough for her son, Narissa uses her talent for the dark arts to trick Giselle. After first disguising herself as an ugly old crone, the queen then lures this naive young girl (On her wedding day, of all days) to what she says is a magical wishing well.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

But as Giselle is getting ready to make her wish, Narissa actually pushes her into the well. Which turns out to be this portal between the fairy tale realm and our world. Which is why this formerly animated beauty eventually emerges from a manhole in the middle of Times Square as a real-live human being.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Or should I say a real-live Disney Princess? Which means that Giselle is an absolute innocent among all of these jaded New Yorkers. Trying to apply what she knows of her world in our own. Which is why -- as this sweet young thing bumps into a disgruntled little person as she crosses Eighth Avenue -- Giselle calls after him, saying "Grumpy? Is that you?"

Finally, seeing this fish-out-of-water flail her way around NYC, handsome divorce attorney Robert Phillips (Played by Patrick Dempsey of "Grey's Anatomy" fame) takes pity on poor Giselle (The human version of this sweet character is played by talented newcomer Amy Adams). Which is why Phillips invites the girl to come stay at his apartment with Robert's daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey).


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

As this cynical attorney and former toon spend more & more time together, Giselle find herself falling for Robert. And Phillips also develops strong feelings for this rather bizarre but extremely beautiful young woman.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

But what Giselle doesn't know is that Prince Edwards has decided to mount a rescue mission for his missing bride. So he too jumps into that magical wishing well back in Andalusia, zooms through the portal and eventually emerged in modern day Manhattan as a really-for-real flesh & blood handsome prince.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

And if Prince Edwards has journeyed into the human world, can his mother -- the evil Queen Narissa -- be all that far behind?

Okay. That brings you up to speed on the basic plot and premise of "Enchanted." But what the above bare-bones outline really doesn't do is reveal how sweet & smart this Barry Sonnenfeld production is. How cleverly it takes those fairy tale conventions that we've seen in Disney's "Snow White," "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty" and then reuses them in new & clever ways.

Take -- for example -- what happens when Giselle decides to show her gratitude to Robert by cleaning up his filthy apartment. She starts out as every Disney princess does when she faces a situation like this. By bursting into song.


Copyright 2007 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

And -- of course -- Giselle's singing voice is so beautiful that it automatically lures all of these creatures out of the forest. And they immediately pitch in and start to help the princess clean up Robert's apartment.

But let's remember that this is New York, folks. And there are no forests nearby. Just a somewhat dingy inner city park. So who comes to Giselle's aid but rats, pigeons and roaches.

Still, this Disney Princess isn't bothered by the somewhat shabby assortment of creatures who come to help her. She's just grateful that they're there. So Giselle just keeps singing as this sea of roaches come swirling up out of the drain and then remove all of the soap scum from the tub. And as a dozen or more rats jump into the kitchen sink and begin scrubbing the dirty dishes.

And throughout this effects-laden sequence, Giselle dances around the apartment singing "The Happy Working Song." Which is one of the five new tunes that Alan Menken & Stephen Schwartz have written for "Enchanted." Though "The Happy Working Song" may eventually receive special recognition from musical theater fans. Given that it's the very first uptempo number (To my knowledge, anyway) that rhymes "determine" with "vermin."

FYI: All of the CG critters that help Giselle clean up Robert's apartment? They're being rendered by the effects wizards at Tippett Studio. That Berkeley, CA.-based FX operation is handling the computer-animated characters who appear in the live action portions of this Walt Disney Pictures release.

Anywho ... Given how witty and well-staged the "Happy Working Song" sequence of this film is, I'm beginning to think that "Enchanted" (Which Disney is already promoting as "A classic fairy tale for the real world" as well as "A modern day fairy tale with a twist") could be a really huge hit for the Mouse House. That it won't be just traditional animation fans who will be turning out in droves to see the wonderful work that James Baxter's team has done on this ambitious live action / animated project. But also teens & romantic comedy fans, who will be won over by Bill Kelly's clever screenplay.

I know that -- in the weeks and months ahead -- all eyes will be how well "Meet the Robinsons," "Shrek the Third" and "Ratatouille" do. But trust me, folks. Come November of this year, "Enchanted" may be the one that really cleans up at the box office.

Your thoughts?

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  • Wow. Enchanted. I loved the premise of this movie from the beginning actualy. I thought it would prove to be very good.

    I can't quite get myself as to how cleaning roaches and pigeans might be considered amazing. But I just don't know, it sounds kind of weird. But think about it folks. Jim is the guy who even criticized Cars as being a crappy movie. So he might be onto something.

    I'm just not sure. We'll see what happens I guess. But the truth be told. This movie does sound very interesting. And Kevin Lima has been involved with some high profile projects for the mouse. I'm hoping this film does well, I really am. I can't wait to watch it either!!!! The film I'm most excited about is Pirates 3, then theres Ratatouille, and then enchanted, then meet the robinsons, then theres national treasure. Disney is going to have a good year this year. haha. I can tell by their movies!

  • Take a little "Cool World" where an animated girl becomes "real", mix in MTV's "Joe's Apartment," the definitive singing and dancing cockroach movie, trace the hag from Snow White, and *voila*.    Marketing needs to worry about the headline: "Disney's latest animated success, not made by Disney - again."

    I am far far away from the target demographic, and I don't see anything here that will make me buy a ticket. It should do very well at the box office, with the chick-flick November market all to itself. Seinfeld's Bee Movie comes out on Nov 2, and Beowulf is Nov 16, so the boys will be animated out - it's up to the girls how well Enchanted does.    

  • While the movie does look to be very good (and very traditional Disney), I just know Jim is highly overestimating it's box office potential. These type of films don't usually go beyond the $100m number. Just look at the grosses of films like Cinderella Story & Ever After. I just think he's putting too much pressure on this film to succeed.

  • Whatever works to get Disney 2d animation off the ground again has my support. Even if it isn't animated by Disney.

  • Princess Diaries + $30M = Box Office for "Enchanted"

  • I loved Splash

  • I've always been excited for this, and I laughed throughout reading this article.  I'm easily amused, but this sounds like such a clever and fun movie!  A lot of these spoilers reminded me of "Snow White" and "Cinderella" both of which I love, but, in this case, somehow that's okay (all princesses have some things in common).  I can't wait to learn more about this film and to see it in November!!!  Thanks for the great article, Jim!

  • I am really quite looking forward to this film. My only worry is that it becomes perhaps too cyncial and Disney ends up mocking itself just to compete with the success of Shrek.

  • Finding ways to take on their own success can only be a good thing.  It's clear that the Disney Princess franchise is hugely successful.  So taking some time out to not take themselves seriously could win dividends.

    My only concern is unclear target audience?

    Is there enough romantic comedy to be a date movie?  Is it not enough "princess" to appeal to the 6-11 year old girl set?  

  • Rufuf3696 -- Not animated by Disney?

    I am happy to reassure you that your information isn't entirely accurate.

    Where do you think James Baxter and his team came from? I guarantee you most of the artists who are animating "Enchanted" are the same folks who worked on "Lion King", "Tarzan" and "Beauty & the Beast", et al. Maybe these scenes weren't penciled under the Sorcerer Hat roof on Riverside Drive, but it's the same talent that brought all our recent favorites (and the disappointments, we have to admit) to life.

    (Yes, I realized it's the same as saying "Prince of Egypt" was a Disney film since all the principles emmigrated from the House of Mouse. That's not what I mean. I'm not being literal, just offering some encouragement of Disney's re-imergance into traditional animation.)

  • I think audiences will really connect with this Disney-going-back-to-classic-concepts movie. But I think that it will either be a HUGE box office blockbuster or a HUGE box office bomb. I don't think it can be a moderate success, you either connect with it or not.

    I hope the animation by James Baxter Animation is up to par, because the first few minutes of a movie a very important to set the tone of the whole movie.

    That "Happy Working" scene sound GREAT!!! :D I'm so looking forward to this movie, can't wait till its November.

  • Whatever, Haters, this movie sounds cute and fun. Plus, I'm a sucker for a musical so I'd be there no matter what.

    Also "The Happy Working Song" segment description actually made me laugh out loud. Just the thought of this beautiful princess singing while flocks of pigeons and roaches and rats are brought in...that's just clever.

  • I think this movie will be great - at the box office... it will appeal to nearly anyone who has seen a princess film (young or old)... and that is about everybody... or greys anatomy... (where dempsey kinda plays a 'prince'  like character any way... "Mcdreamy" = "Prince Charming" .... ;) )  The 'older' girls will go for dempsey and the kitsch factor... they will remember growing up with ariel, belle and jasmine... and will remember the 'rules' that a fairy tale movie must abide by...  

    the cynicals amoung us will enjoy the movie as it proves just how unrealistic the princess movies actually are... as disney itself takes a stab at their formula and makes fun of its own creations - which other studios (dreamwork's shrek anybody...?) have already done so successfully....  

    any body who laughed at snow white's cleaning routine or the stereotypical 'I want song', 'Love song', 'Villian song' (lets not forget that sarandon sang in Rocky Horror...) formula will probably like this movie...

    and lets not forget that we have alan menken thrown in for good measure... to make fun of his own songs no doubt too!

    I think this will be the next Who framed Roger Rabbit? movie... (I am hoping that perhaps Giselle has an animated sidekick, or that there are animated/live action fights towards the end or something...?) ... im guessing that robert and giselle will end up happily ever after in princess land... or prince charming and his new girl... they will probably borrow from Beauty and the Beast in that scene... :)

    any way, as you can tell i am excited...!

  • I think this will do really good in the box office.  It has a lot of good things going for it. It has the princess/romantic comedy that will tweens will love.  It also doesn't hurt that it has Patrick Dempsey in it, which with the the success of Grey's Anatomy, will pull in a lot of people.  And the fact that this will be the first time we see some traditional animation in a few years definitely helps this movie.  And come on, who doesn't love some Alan Menken music!  I think I'm the most excited about hearing some of the songs that will come out of this movie. "The Happy Working Song" sounds great.

  • Sounds like Snow White meets Splash to me ... Could be good ... I'm sure it'll be a Princess Diary kinda hit ... I'm not in the target demo, so I could care less, but it'll probably do well.

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